Winter driving conditions are always a little bit more hazardous, given the fact that on any day during the season you might get snow, ice, sleet, or hail on the roadways. That makes it important that you prepare for it yourself mentally, and that you have your vehicle prepared for those conditions as well.
By following the recommendations on our car maintenance checklist below, you can prepare your vehicle adequately to meet the challenges of winter season driving, and you’ll be better at avoiding accidents or problems that may happen on highways.
Before the bad weather arrives, it’s a good idea to service your vehicle, so might prepare for whatever winter might throw at you. First, it’s a good idea to have your battery checked, because battery power always decreases with a drop in temperature, and that means it will take more power to get your car started. If your battery was already having problems, the winter weather will exacerbate those issues.
Also, have your cooling system checked to make sure you have adequate antifreeze in the system, and that you have the right coolant-to-water ratio to prevent possible freezing. Cold weather may not hurt your brakes exactly, but it’s still very important to have optimal braking performance during winter conditions.
Lastly, have a service technician check some must-have items on your car maintenance checklist like your wires, cables, spark plugs, hoses, and belts. These can cause a problem at any time of year, but if they fail during the wintertime, you might find yourself stranded in an inhospitable area.
You may not have realized this, but every 10° drop in temperature will also generally carry a loss of 1 psi in your tires. That means it’s important to check tire pressure regularly during the wintertime and add air when it’s needed.
You can find the appropriate tire pressure for your specific tires in the vehicle owner’s manual, sometimes on the tires themselves, or on the tire placard in the doorjamb on the driver’s side.
While all-season tires perform fairly well in winter conditions, if you really want maximum performance, you should definitely switch to winter tires for the season. This is especially true if you live in an area where temperatures get very cold, and where you can expect frequent snowfall.
When the temperature stays cold for an extended period of time, the rubber in non-winter tires tends to harden, and that decreases their ability to grab the road. Winter tires are equipped with special compounds that resist this hardening in cold temperatures, so they’re still capable of providing excellent traction on any road conditions, regardless of how cold it gets.
Monitor the fluid level on your windshield washer, because you will probably use your washer fluid much more frequently in the wintertime than at any other time of year. Road conditions will generally get messy whenever there’s a snowfall in progress, and you might have to use your windshield washer fluid to maintain a clear view for driving. You can find windshield washer fluid at most department stores and most auto parts stores, and it’s a simple matter to refill the reservoir whenever you need to.
Winter wipers are more advantageous than ordinary wipers because they are equipped with rubber that prevents the collection of ice on the blades. This will do a much better job of keeping the wipers themselves free of debris, and more capable of clearing off your windshield. When spring rolls around, remember to switch back to regular wipers, because the winter versions are heavier, and therefore more of a drag on your wiper motor.
Any time you head out for an extended winter drive, make sure you’re aware of the temperature change while you’re on the roadway. Fluctuating temperatures can have a big impact on traction, especially if there is a relatively sudden change in temperature. As an example, it’s actually probably safer to drive in 0° weather than it is to drive in 32° weather all of a sudden. At higher temperatures, surfaces become slicker and more slippery, and that will make your vehicle more prone to accidents. At 0°, road surfaces tend to get more crunchy, and that will actually promote better traction.
You could be in a dangerous situation if you can’t see behind you during winter driving. A number of states actually have laws requiring that your rear windows are clear of debris and condensation. When you’re having your car winterized, make sure that your rear window defroster is in good operating order before the cold weather actually arrives.
You’re much better off to fill up frequently in the wintertime because it’s much more important that you have a greater supply of gas in the winter than in the summer. Having a relatively full tank reduces condensation and that can help you avoid any freeze-ups in your gas line. In addition to that, if you ever happen to get stranded in a snowstorm, your engine will be the only thing that can keep you warm until help arrives.
When you head off on any long driving trip, it’s a good idea to have a car maintenance checklist and pack some supplies in your vehicle which will be of assistance during any kind of emergency. It’s good to have some snacks on hand, bottled water, warm blankets, and anything that will increase comfort if you have to remain in place for an extended period of time. Include some drinking water as well, just in case you can’t get out of the car for any length of time.
All the drivers in your family should have a good understanding of this car maintenance checklist for emergency preparedness, just in case one should actually occur to any family member. In most cases, you should never leave your car, because you might lose sight of it altogether. It’s also a good idea to not run your car for any long period of time. Instead, run it for a long enough time to get warm, and then turn it off again, so that you don’t run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Leave your dome lights on to attract attention, so that when help does arrive, they’ll know where to go.
For most people, getting to an unknown auto repair provider is not only a nuisance, but it’s distasteful and very unwelcome as well. With less-than-legitimate shops, you never really know if specific auto repairs are truly necessary, or whether the repair person is simply trying to increase their profits at your expense and their repairs are practically always inconvenient and expensive. These auto repair providers might get all the rest a bad reputation by association, but in fairness these are relatively few.
The problem is, you never know whether or not you have just aligned yourself with one of those few unscrupulous characters. To help get fair value for your money, you should be prepared to ask a number of important questions of any repair service professional. If they’re on the up and up, they shouldn’t mind responding to your questions and helping you have peace of mind.
Below are some of the most important questions you can ask your auto repair provider, and you’ll be doing yourself a real favor if you actually ask these to your repair person, so you can find out a little more about the service you’re going to receive.
Even if you don’t know much about cars, you should ask this question, because your mechanic should be perfectly willing to show you what the problem is, and the impact it’s having on operation. If they are unwilling to show you where the problem is, they just might be trying to fleece you.
While it might be somewhat difficult to demonstrate, a simple matter of taking five minutes to show the customer what the problem is can go a long way toward inspiring your confidence in the auto repair provider in question. In addition, you might actually gain a better understanding of how your car operates.
Some auto repair shops do provide no-charge evaluations, while others have a set fee. Whichever of these two situations is in effect at your auto repair provider, the mechanic should have no problem relating what their policy is.
Don’t be deterred just because your mechanic tells you there is a charge for the evaluation, because it probably is fair that a skilled mechanic be paid for their time, and running diagnostics is a skill that requires specialized training and knowledge.
It’s always a good idea to get an estimate for any repair work you need done, so that things don’t spin out of control and you end up with a whole laundry list of repairs. It’s best to ask for a detailed estimate right at the outset, and not just a bottom-line cost, because you should know what you’re paying for.
When you see an itemized list that shows all parts that were used in repairing your vehicle, as well as a line item for the specific amount of labor involved, you can have a little more confidence that things were done honestly. Have an understanding with your mechanic that they will need to call you if there are any unanticipated problems or expenses, so you’ll have the option of approving or not.
The thing to look for in accreditations is an ASE certification, which is a certification issued by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. This is a nonprofit organization that certifies and tests auto mechanics, for the purpose of ensuring that they have the skill and competence to repair your vehicle.
Other accreditations may be appropriate as well, but you should question them if they start to sound a little bogus. When you hear that mechanics do have the ASE certification, you can have a little more peace of mind knowing that they are qualified, skilled auto mechanics.
If your auto repair provider gives you a whole catalog of repairs which your car needs, it could be legitimate, but then again it might not be. By asking which problems are the most urgent and what are the ones you must take care of right away, you can cut right to the chase and do the work on those issues that require immediate attention.
Have your auto repair person explain to you which repairs are the ones most necessary, and which ones can wait several weeks if necessary. A good auto mechanic will have no problem working with you to schedule other repairs at some future date, while handling the most urgent situations right at the present time. This is also a good way to establish some trust and rapport with your mechanic, since you should both have the same objective at heart.
This can be a really important question to ask, because if it turns out that the problem was caused by some bad driving habits you have, you’ll want to know this so you can correct the situation. On the other hand, maybe this was a problem that’s just common to the make and model of your vehicle.
Most often, you will find that the cause of a problem was some kind of overlooked preventive maintenance to avoid the problem altogether. These are things you need to know, so that you can prevent a recurrence in the future. When you have this information in hand, it might save you a lot of money on future repairs.
Some repair shops are like general practitioners in the medical field – they pretty much handle everything. On the other hand, there are a number of repair shops which specialize in transmission work or brake jobs. This would be useful to know if for instance, you’re having a problem with your brakes.
It might be worth your while to take the vehicle to a shop that specializes in brake repairs. At any rate, make sure that your repair shop is capable of handling the type of problem your vehicle has, so you have a better chance of getting great work that resolves the issue.
If you should encounter some kind of difficulty with your vehicle while driving, the first thing you should do is try to maneuver to the shoulder of the road as soon as you can. This is especially true if you’re on the highway, because vehicle traffic will be traveling at high speed, and if your car is actually breaking down, it could create a very hazardous situation. Safety should be uppermost in your mind in a situation like this, so you should keep a couple of things in mind.
First of all, it’s a good idea to coast along the shoulder of the road until you reach a straight stretch of highway, with no curves in the road behind you. This will allow you to see any oncoming traffic, and it will also allow vehicles behind you to be well aware of your position at the roadside. If it happens that your engine suddenly dies while you’re in the middle of traffic on the highway, and you have no opportunity to reach the shoulder, you should make sure to stay in the vehicle.
It can be extremely disconcerting to be sitting in a non-operational vehicle with high-speed traffic all around you, but if you were to get out of the vehicle and try and reach the side of the road, you might run into a much worse situation. Keep in mind: police officers generally patrol highways, so more than likely a Highway Patrol officer will be along shortly.
If your vehicle requires auto collision repair work on the road, that’s something you can work on after the fact. Your immediate concern is to stay safe, and to try to keep your vehicle free from harm, given the fact that you are in a dangerous situation that could have the potential for disaster.
Here are some things you should do to keep yourself and your vehicle safe before you make it to the auto collision repair shop:
if your vehicle has sustained some kind of damage from your mishap while driving, here are some repair tips you should be aware of:
In many states of this country, it is a requirement that any auto repair organization provide a written estimate to customers which includes an itemization of all services and parts which will be required to conduct repairs. Even if you live in a state which does not have this requirement, you should obtain a written estimate from any repair service, so that you can have a specific listing of everything being done.
Most repair services will gladly provide this estimate because it’s in their best interest also to show the kind of work they can do, and the parts necessary to accomplish repairs. Written estimates for repair work should include a bare minimum of these essential itemizations:
Whether or not your state requires a written estimate when car repairs are necessary, you as the customer should always insist on one, so that you can protect your rights, and make sure that you are not taken advantage of by any repair service.
You should consider this written estimate to be a contract between you and the repair shop, which includes a description of the work to be done and the cost of all that work.
You can avoid a great many problems down the road when you have this car repair estimate in hand because you can always refer to it if any future disputes or disagreements should arise. It’s a very good document to have which you can fall back on, to support your case when any problems surface.
Just as some states require a written estimate from repair services, some states also will allow you to waive your right to a written repair estimate. This is not recommended at all, because it leaves you vulnerable to a considerable number of potential misunderstandings and disagreements down the road.
Whether or not you trust the repair service working on your car, it’s never a good idea to relinquish your right to a written car repair estimate.
A better option would be to at least ask the repair shop to contact you ahead of time if the repairs will exceed a certain dollar amount. This will avoid you to pay an unexpectedly high repair bill, and it will remove the open-ended nature of the contract between you and the repair service.
If you didn’t have this kind of understanding in place, and you have no written estimate, it’s entirely possible that a repair service might spring an exorbitant repair bill on you, and you would have no recourse other than to pay it, or you wouldn’t get your automobile back.
Any time that you actually sign a repair order, it puts the responsibility for all charges directly on you. For this reason, you should make a point of reading the estimate very carefully, and asking for an explanation about anything which doesn’t make sense to you, or which you don’t clearly understand.
You should always insist on a very clear written estimate which specifically details all the costs for both labor and parts, and which has a very clear description of the work to be performed.
If there’s anything on the written estimate which doesn’t seem clear enough to you, you should ask for clarification, or ask to revise the written estimate to include language you do understand. In addition to all this, when you find out that you have major repairs which may be necessary, it’s probably worth your while to get a second opinion from another repair service.
While this may cost you a little extra money and a little extra time, in the long run, it might very well be worth it because a second professional opinion may be in direct contrast to the original estimate you got. When there is a significant amount of money at stake for repair bills, it’s a good idea to either confirm the original estimate or dispute it, and it could end up saving you a considerable amount of money.
A car repair estimate is one of the best ways of protecting yourself as a consumer because they will literally state everything that mechanics will do to your car and the cost of all their services. It will help immensely if you have a trusted mechanic or repair service that you have dealt with for years, and whom you can rely upon to provide quality parts and service, at appropriate fees.
This kind of person or organization will not be seeking to take advantage of you, and will not have hidden fees built into any estimate provided to you.
If you don’t have the luxury of working with a particular repair service for a long period of time, it might be worth your while to consult friends and relatives to find organizations they can vouch for, from whom they’ve got honest and superior work service. If no testimonials are available, the next best thing you can do is consult online reviews of service organizations in your area. When you notice that a number of individuals have had great service and great experiences from a particular organization, you can feel a bit more comfortable that you will receive the same high-quality service.
On the other hand, if you encounter reviews that include a number of bad experiences such as over-charging or inferior work, this would be a good organization to avoid. Apart from this, it’s also a good idea to look for the rating from the Better Business Bureau, so you can be sure that any specific company has been operating under the good graces of that organization.
There is no one who’s going to look out for your best interests when it comes to auto repairs other than yourself, so make sure to do everything you can to avoid an unpleasant experience.
If you are planning a vacation getaway, you’ll probably have tons of things to prepare, and countless details must be attended to on an auto repair shop before you can actually be on your way and leave your home behind. When leaving your vehicle behind as well, there are some tasks which you should be aware of involving how your vehicle should be stored properly.
If you take these tasks and checks to heart and do a good job of preparing your vehicle for some period of storage, you should be able to count on the same excellent and reliable service once your vacation is over, and you’re back at home. Here are some of the things you should be aware of when storing your vehicle for an extended period.
One good suggestion is to avoid activating the handbrake when you’re leaving your vehicle at home for an extended period. This will allow you to avoid having the brake pads getting caught or stuck in place because if that does happen you can count on some major hassles the next time you take your vehicle out for a drive. To be on the safe side, use a wheel lock or prop a stone or piece of wood against one of the tires to prevent any movement of your vehicle. These are much safer approaches than actually using the handbrake for a long time.
If you don’t have a garage, you should cover your vehicle completely, to protect it against weather elements and anything else happening in the neighborhood. Make sure to purchase a cover that is capable of completely covering the vehicle so that the entire body can be covered. There are lots of things that might happen while you’re gone which are worse than a little rain or even a downpour, and you don’t want any unpleasant surprises when you come back from your vacation.
When you plan to be gone a long time, it might be a good idea to remove the spark plugs and spray some oil in the socket, before reinstalling the spark plugs when you return. This prevents rust from forming on the cylinder heads, and it will keep them moist so they don’t dry out. You might also want to invest in some additives you can purchase on any auto repair shop, that can provide a protective coating for the sockets, so you won’t have to worry about any functional issues when you return.
Most of the time, vehicle owners don’t really take the time to clean out their vehicles when they’re headed out for an extended vacation or time away from home. It’s one of the last things that you think about because there always seem to be more pressing issues associated with the trip itself, so, understandably, you don’t think about the vehicle you’re leaving behind. However, it is a good idea to thoroughly clean the interior of the car so that bacteria don’t have a chance to grow on the seats or the carpeting. You may also want to install some air fresheners which will impart a pleasant fragrance to the interior of the vehicle, and give it a nice fresh smell when you make use of it for the first time after your return.
Rust has the potential for forming inside the fuel tank when a vehicle is not used for any length of time. One way to avoid this possibility is to make sure that your gas tank is topped off with high-octane gasoline. With a full tank of gas, there will be no chance for oxygen to combine with the metal of the tank and create harmful rust on the interior. It will also provide a practical benefit because when you return from your stay away from home, you’ll have a full tank of gas and you’ll be ready to take your vehicle anywhere without having to gas up first.
Before leaving, it’s a good idea to check the condition of your car battery, to make sure it’s up to snuff and ready to go when you come back. Another approach would be to remove the battery altogether and store it in a cool place while you’re away from home. If you do this, make sure to store the battery in a place where direct sunlight cannot reach it, because this could degrade the condition of the battery and make it less effective in usage.
Unless you’ve recently had an oil change for your vehicle, it would be a good idea to change the oil and the oil filter when you leave for a vacation at your preferred auto repair shop. Oil that has been used for an extensive period will generally acquire metal filings, water vapor, and other corrosive elements which have the capability of degrading the parts of your vehicle. With fresh oil in your reservoir, none of these components will be able to degrade your vehicle.
Before you leave on vacation, you should check the pressure of your car’s tires, to make sure they are following the manufacturer’s specifications. When the appropriate tire pressure is installed in these tires, you won’t have to worry about any kind of cracking or deflating which might occur. Check to make sure that the valve caps are securely in place, so there are no issues with them. It’s possible that your tires could deflate if they are sitting on any hard surface for a long period of time. You can avoid this by using a jack on each wheel, to lift it off the surface somewhat, so your tires are not bearing the full weight of your vehicle. When the entire car is not resting completely on your tires, most of the pressure of that weight will be relieved, so the tires themselves will avoid being abused or degraded.
While you might think that wintertime is the only season you really have to watch out for your car and take good care of it, you should be aware that in some ways, summer can be just as harsh on your vehicle. In order to ensure that your ride is always ready to go when you need it this summer, here is a handy list of things you should be doing according to our auto care center, and a list of things you should be avoiding.
If you can consistently stick to these tips, you should be able to enjoy a summer of great traveling and enjoyable experiences.
Many of the newer models of vehicles don’t have temperature gauges. Instead, they come with a warning light that tells you when the car is approaching an overheated condition. If your car does have a temperature gauge, make a point of checking it occasionally while you’re driving, especially when you’re driving for an extended period of time, or when conditions are very hot outside.
If you have a newer car that only has a warning light, you should pull over immediately when that light starts to flash, because it is indicating an overheated situation. Don’t continue driving when you realize your car has become overheated because that could lead to more serious consequences.
If you’re going to have to leave your pet in the vehicle while you go shopping, then you shouldn’t even take the animal with you on a road trip. Even when your windows are cracked open on a hot 90° day, the interior car temperature can soar to 140°F. Dogs are not able to sweat, and since they’re covered in fur, their body temperatures can quickly get out of control.
Every year, a number of pets die because they were left in a car on a hot day. Not only is this an inhumane thing to do, but your family members will be distraught if you insist on taking your pet for a ride with you, and then encounter a tragedy because you left them in the vehicle in a parking lot.
Summertime driving will always have the effect of generating higher tire temperatures, and that in turn will increase the air pressure in your tires. It’s good to get in the habit of checking your tire pressure occasionally at your auto care center, to make sure that tires don’t become overly inflated and overly pressured. While you’re at it, give your tires a visual check to make sure there isn’t excessive wear on the tire tread, because this will cause a performance issue.
You can ignore the importance of your tires since they’re the only thing between you and the pavement, so it’s ultra-important that you keep an eye on their condition.
Whenever you happen to be driving in extremely hot conditions, it’s probably best that you don’t use your air conditioning system. This might happen when you’re driving through one of the southwestern states which can reach temperatures of 110° during the daytime. By engaging your air conditioning system, you will be putting an additional load on your engine, and that can easily cause your car to become overheated.
Better to be somewhat uncomfortable without the air conditioning, than to be stranded along the roadside for hours at a time.
Of course, summertime isn’t the only time of year when you should be checking your oil level at your auto care center, but it takes on added importance in the summertime when everything is much hotter. There is no longer a need to use different oil types in the winter and the summer because modern multi-viscosity high-quality oils have virtually eliminated the need for two different oil types.
Any good motor oil works in tandem with your cooling system to help regulate engine temperature, and when your oil level is low, that can cause your engine temperature to soar very quickly. When this happens, the oil begins to break down and thin out, and it will lose its effectiveness as a lubricant. Whenever you notice that the oil level is down a bit, you should make a point of refilling the reservoir up to its recommended operating level. Always ask your auto care center for this.
Many of today’s newer vehicles have the fuel pump situated right inside the fuel tank itself. The fuel pump relies on being surrounded by fuel in order to keep it somewhat cool, and if you have a very low level of fuel, there will be no fuel surrounding the fuel pump. That will make it vulnerable to overheating and increase the likelihood of premature failure.
When the temperature outside soars to higher levels, it can cause your fuel pump to fail even more quickly. Make a point of keeping at least a quarter tank of gas on hand, and to be really safe, you should try not to let your fuel reservoir get below half a tank.
Every year in this country, people buy more than 50 billion plastic water bottles, and even more than 80% of them will end up in landfills, even though it is pretty easy to recycle them.
When you leave plastic water bottles in your car and they become heated up by interior air temperature, they can leach chemicals into the water they contain, and that can cause some major health issues. You’re much better off to purchase a reusable water bottle and fill it when necessary.
Of course, this won’t be an issue if you never leave plastic water bottles in your car overnight or for extended periods of time, but if you do forget about your water bottles, make sure you don’t drink from them after they’ve been sitting in the heat for a while.
Of necessity, autorepair shops must have the knowledge and skillsets to perform almost all types of repair work on vehicles, because the only other line of defense is the actual dealership where the car was purchased.
When the dealer does not service the vehicles they sell, there is literally no other recourse than to engage the services of a qualified auto repair shop. That requires a working knowledge of how cars work in general, and how specific makes and models perform as well.
That can amount to a considerable body of knowledge, but autorepair shops are generally up to the task and can deliver whatever kind of repair work is called for on a vehicle that needs repairs or normal maintenance. The need for this vast amount of knowledge and experience is one reason why labor costs from skilled auto technicians tend to be so high, and why you have to pay so much.
Here are some of the most common services which autorepair shops must be capable of delivering to customers.
Since most cars operate on the same basic principles, the same kinds of repairs are generally necessary, especially given the fact that the moving parts tend to be similar across all vehicles, and the parts which undergo the most wear and tear are similar in all vehicles.
That being the case, here are some of the parts and systems which most frequently need attention on today’s vehicles:
At Showcase, we can provide both collision work and auto repairs at our two locations. For the best collision work in the region, bring your vehicle into our Warren, MI shop, and for the finest in auto care, you should bring your vehicle to our Sterling Heights, MI shop.
Here are some of the services we specialize in at these two locations:
Whenever you have any question about whether or not we can repair some problem your vehicle has, please contact us and talk with our friendly representatives to set up an appointment for repairs, or to find out the answer to a question you might have.
Getting an accurate car damage estimate for the work you need to do on your car after an accident can be critical if you want to avoid being fleeced. There are a great many collision shops where you can be drastically overcharged for parts and service, so it’s up to you to do your homework and make sure that any estimates are in the ballpark of reasonableness.
One of the first things you should do is to find out the actual value of your vehicle, as it stood before your accident. There are a couple of references you can consult in this regard, including the Kelley Blue Book and the National Association of Automobile Dealers NADA Guide.
Of course, if your insurance carrier decides that the cost of repairing your vehicle is more than the car is worth, i.e. the car has been totaled, then they won’t pay for the repairs.
It will be up to you to make a case for demonstrating that the pieces of the car are worth more than the book value, thereby bumping up your repair settlement. In order to do that, you’ll have to provide your insurance carrier with such evidence as mileage records, service history, and possibly testimony from local mechanics. This kind of support should convince your insurance carrier that your car is worth more than a typical vehicle from its make and model class.
It’s important that you understand how the claims repair process works so that you can go about getting the most accurate estimate for any repairs you need on your vehicle. Whenever you file a claim with your insurance company, they will probably put you in touch with a claims adjuster who will confirm your loss, and make at least an initial determination on what it might cost to restore the vehicle to its former condition.
Keep in mind that this initial car damage estimate is merely a benchmark, and it’s not intended to be a final claim payment at all. The insurance company doesn’t expect you to simply accept the estimate made by their adjuster, until after you have personally established that this estimate will indeed cover all the costs of any necessary repairs. The insurance company will also expect you to obtain one or more estimates from your local mechanic or car dealer so that you can compare them to the estimate made by their claims adjuster.
When you do provide these estimates to your insurance carrier, it’s entirely likely that they may choose to accept the lowest bid. From the perspective of the insurance company, they’re trying to avoid paying for an inflated repair bill, but that may not synchronize with what your own perspective is. If you decide to take one of the higher estimates, prepare to justify to the insurance company why that higher estimate is necessary, and why it’s more appropriate than the low bid.
Your insurance carrier cannot force you to get your car at a shop of their choice, but they can ask you to look for other estimates if they feel that the quotes you gave them are too high. There is always room for negotiation if you believe that the preferred estimate by your insurance carrier is too low, and will not cover the cost of repairs adequately. Of course, in this case, you’ll need to justify to the claims adjuster why you feel a higher estimate is more appropriate.
There are some things you can do which will help you to get the most accurate estimates for any repair work necessary following an accident. The first of these is to do whatever research is appropriate on the collision shops that you’re considering to have the work done.
Make sure that any estimates you get are from reputable repair shops which have a history of doing top-notch, high-quality work. Read online reviews and seek referrals from other people who may have had collision work done at those shops.
Ideally, you should have at least three written estimates from different collision shops, and each of these estimates should include a breakdown of all the parts and labor which will be necessary to restore your vehicle. Another tip is to avoid making a decision based on a single car damage estimate. The reason this is wise is that there can be a great deal of variance between estimates, since one mechanic may discover hidden repairs which are necessary, while another one overlooks them.
If your claims adjuster recommends a collision shop where the estimate is substantially lower than other places, this should be a red flag to you, and you should definitely conduct more research. Your best bet is to do a line-by-line comparison of the details on any estimate to see where the differences lie, and then to ask questions about why they omit or include certain parts and services.
One last tip for you to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily have to wait for your insurance company to assign a claims adjuster to your claim.
If you need your vehicle back as soon as possible, it might be worth your while to pay for the repairs yourself and then claim any reimbursement from your insurance carrier. This is a little risky since getting back the full amount for completed repairs is pretty difficult.
To protect yourself, it’s always best to pay close attention to everything listed on a detailed estimate and to work closely with your insurance company to get adequate reimbursement for all necessary repairs. By acquiring multiple estimates, you can ensure that you get the most accurate possible car damage estimate for repair work, and you’ll also be reasonably sure that damage that is not visible has been accounted for. This can be extremely important because there are often internal repairs necessary that are not apparent to the naked eye.
You need to have a good working knowledge of how your vehicle actually works when you need repairs, and how to identify many of the most common auto repair problems.
If you haven’t already got a trusted mechanic, you should make every effort to find one, and make sure you ask the right questions whenever you work with that individual. You should also be aware of your rights as a consumer, so that an unscrupulous repair person doesn’t take advantage of you, and fleece you out of your hard-earned money.
Here’s the best way to head off any auto repair problems which would otherwise be necessary.
Even if you’re not particularly interested in automobiles, it’s worth your while to have at least a general understanding of how they work, because this will really help you to head off all kinds of repair problems. You will be able to identify quite a few vehicle problems simply by conducting a regular visual inspection, listening for unusual noises, smelling odors that are not common, and paying attention to the way your vehicle handles as you drive around the neighborhood every day.
It might not mean much if you see a drop of fluid under your vehicle every now and then, but if you see a wet spot beneath your vehicle, it should be checked out.
Even worse, when you notice a puddle that has accumulated under your car, that calls for immediate action and should be investigated right away. If you notice a yellowish-green, fluorescent orange, or pastel blue fluid… any of these could be an indication that your engine has overheated, or that you have an anti-freeze leak:
You’d be surprised how many auto repair problems can be identified by actually smelling them while your car is operating. For instance, if you smell something like burnt toast, this is often an indication that you have insulation that is burning somewhere, or that your car has an electrical short. It would be best not to drive the vehicle until the actual problem has been diagnosed.
When you smell the unmistakable odor of rotten eggs, this is very often an indication that the catalytic converter or some other emission control device has failed. Diagnose the problem as quickly as possible and repair it if necessary.
When you smell a thick, acrid order, that is generally an indication that oil is burning, and you should take some time to look for signs of an oil leak.
If you smell gasoline vapors after a failure to start the engine, this usually indicates that you have flooded the engine. When you notice this odor, wait a few minutes before attempting to restart the engine.
If you continue to smell gasoline, there could be a leak in your fuel system, and if this is the case, it will be a dangerous situation that requires prompt attention.
When you smell a chemical odor or something like burning resin, that could be a sign of an overheated clutch or overheated brakes. If you’ve been driving on mountain roads, you might need to let your brakes cool before proceeding. When you smell a kind of sweet, steamy odor, that may be a good indication of a coolant leak.
Check your temperature gauge for an overheating indication, and if you don’t see one, it could be that the engine itself is overheated. If you suspect this is the case, you should quickly pull over at the nearest repair station and have it checked out.
You can often identify auto repair problems simply by paying close attention to the sounds that you hear coming from it. When you hear a squeal which is a shrill, sharp type of noise, it could indicate that you have worn power steering, or that you have a loose air conditioning belt. A clicking noise might indicate a loose wheel cover, a stuck valve lifter, or a bent fan blade.
A high-pitched metallic sound heard while the vehicle is in motion, could be caused by excessive wear on your brakes, in which case it’s time for you to have some maintenance done. When you hear a low-pitched rumble, this could be a sign of an exhaust pipe, muffler, or converter going bad, or one which has developed a perforation. It might also be a sign that your universal joint or some other component in the driveline has become worn out.
When you hear a high-pitched tapping kind of sound, this may be caused by gasoline that has a lower octane rating than what should be used in your vehicle. You should check your owner’s manual so that you are aware of the appropriate octane rating for your car, to make sure this isn’t the case. If you continue to hear this kind of pinging sound, it could be that you have a problem with your engine ignition timing.
If you have a knock that sounds like a consistent pounding, it may be attributable to a worn crankshaft, or possibly the connecting rod bearings. It might also be a sign that you have a loose transmission torque converter.
When you hear a random thumping sound that is akin to a clunk, that could be an indicator that you have a loose exhaust pipe or muffler, or that you have a loose shock absorber or some other component in the suspension system.
Most auto collision repair shops are aware of the fact that the repair work on any vehicle only constitutes part of the job, and that other extra services, which are necessary, can make the vehicle owner even happier. The effort put into repairs by any specific collision shop can make the difference between a once-off and one you might visit over and over again.
Given the fact that most auto collision repair shops must follow a pre-set procedure, you can pretty much count on the fact that these repairs will be accomplished pretty much in the same way by any shop you work with. That means the real difference between many different repair shops is in the level of service and the level of customer satisfaction they can provide you.
When your car has been through some kind of collision work, there are a number of things you should check afterward, so that you can be completely satisfied with the service results on your preferred Auto Collision Repair Shop.
Before you drive away from the collision shop after the repair work has been done, you should definitely do a close visual inspection of the repairs, and you should also review them at a distance to make sure nothing looks out of the ordinary.
Specifically, you should check the paint in the affected area, so you can be sure that the texture and color match the rest of the vehicle. Make sure that the vehicle is clean and has no leftover remnants of the repair employees’ work.
Another thing you should do before leaving the collision shop is take a test drive to make sure that any mechanical repairs are in order, and that the vehicle is functioning normally. You should bring up the issue immediately rather than putting it off till later.
After leaving the collision shop, any issues which you identify probably won’t get to have repairs anytime soon, so it’s definitely to your advantage to take care of everything right on the spot.
If your vehicle got in a fairly serious accident, it’s very likely that the airbag will need a replacement.
There really is no way that a reputable collision shop would overlook the replacement of your airbag, but it is possible that a less than scrupulous dealer would deliberately overlook it.
Airbags can fetch a hefty price on the black market, and this could tempt some fly-by-night operators to charge the insurance company for an airbag, without actually installing a new one. This would also allow the repair shop to sell the airbag and bring in additional income for the same lack of new installation.
Make sure to check whether the airbag light indicator is on, or if you hear a hollow sound from your steering wheel when you knock on it lightly.
If your vehicle had any suspension parts replaced during the collision work, they will definitely need to be torqued so they are once again in compliance with the manufacturer’s specifications. If they don’t do this, it could cause an assembly to be loose, and that will have a huge negative impact on the performance of your vehicle, as well as how it handles.
You should make a point of inquiring with the collision shop about their procedures if you need to replace suspension parts, and you should also ask them to provide you with their torque specifications.
If you notice that the car is pulling to one side or the other after it has been repaired, this is probably an indication that the car has poor alignment. This may be due to a misaligned unibody structure or a bent frame, but it’s something that you don’t want to have to deal with on an ongoing basis.
It’s fairly easy to straighten out some vehicles after they’ve been involved in a car crash, but others are more difficult to align. You don’t want to accept a poorly aligned car, because that will wear out your tires much more quickly, and you’ll find that you’re replacing them sooner than you should.
It will also contribute to poor handling of your vehicle, and it will be more difficult to keep it centered in a driving lane.
The term ‘clipping’ refers to welding a whole used section from another vehicle onto yours after an accident. A couple of decades ago, this was a fairly common practice, but nowadays most vehicles have lightweight high-strength materials, and welding sections from other vehicles will frequently cause structural weaknesses to develop.
You should make a point of bringing this up with your collision center, to make sure they don’t have a policy that includes car clipping because that will be unsafe for your future driving.
Some insurance companies require that collision centers use aftermarket parts that might not be up to snuff with manufacturer specifications. This makes it important for you to find out exactly which kinds of repair parts were used when restoring your vehicle.
If the mechanic uses inferior parts to repair your vehicle, it could have a major impact on the performance of the vehicle, as well as what could happen if you get into another collision.
The reason insurance companies will insist on this is that used parts are far cheaper than original equipment parts are, and that means they can save on any amounts paid to your collision center. However, this is definitely not to your advantage, and it could even create a safety issue with your future driving of the vehicle.
For this reason, you should insist on seeing the invoice which details all the restoration of your vehicle, so you can be sure that there were high-quality parts.