Thursday, October 31, 2019

Fall/Winter Maintenance For Your Vehicle

Winter is fast approaching, and we want everyone to be ready for it. Here at Oakdale Collision, this is our busiest time of the year. As much as we love seeing our customers return, we also aim to make sure that you don’t have to. With every change of season, you should be inspecting your vehicle for required maintenance, and that list can sometimes feel endless. In order to give you a head start here’s our list of things you should be looking into before winter is officially here. 

  • Check your tread. Better yet, install winter tires on your vehicle. However, if you have all-season tires, simply make sure that the tread is deep enough. Utilize the penny method; insert a penny headfirst into your tire tread. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires. 
  • Test your heat. In Minnesota, this is extremely important. Who wants to walk out to their car the first day of negatives and find their heat is broken?! Do yourself the favor now and turn that heat to the max to make sure it’s working to its best potential.
  • Check your brake systems! This is yet another important part of our fall maintenance. Make sure you get a proper idea of how your brakes are functioning, when they may need to be replaced, and that you can stop in a matter of seconds. Winter is full of slick roads and traffic so make sure that your brakes are in their best shape before you’re in a bad situation. 
  • How are your headlights? Everybody always talks about rock chips in the paint, and your windshield, but your headlights can also chip. After long use, the headlight covers often get scratched and dingy, giving them a dimmer appearance. This is unsafe in the dark, and even scarier in the winter. There are kits online you can order to improve your line of sight, among many other options we can discuss with you.
  • Check all your fluids. Windshield washer fluid will freeze in our temperatures, so make sure you replace the old with one that has a low freeze point. This is also a good time to check your oil and look into your fuel efficiency. Motor oil is also affected by low temperatures and can become thicker and cloggy when cold which affects performance.
  • When is the last time you replaced your battery? This one will negate all other maintenance if ignored. Batteries lose power over the course of their lives, and weaker batteries are more likely not to work when the negative temps arrive. Check your connectors, and battery life now to save you the frostbite later. 
There’s a long list of maintenance you should be tending to for your vehicle year-round, but this is our mini-list to help you maintain now. The sooner you get started on your list, the sooner you will find the larger pieces of maintenance lingering. As always, if you ever have any questions about your vehicle, contact us. We are always happy to help!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Aftermarket or OEM Windshield?

One of the downsides to having a vehicle you love and want to take care of is how often accidents happen. We’re specifically thinking about how often rocks fly up from a vehicle in front of you on the highway and put an unfortunate chip in your windshield. It happens, but what do you do when you either have too many, they’re in your line of sight, or if the whole thing is damaged beyond repair?

Insurance companies occasionally make demands that you may not agree with, but one of the best perks of living in Minnesota is a law that requires the vehicle owner’s explicit approval to replace OEM parts with Aftermarket ones. As an auto body repair facility, we don’t take a stance against or for either OEM or Aftermarket ones, but we will tell you the difference so you can make an informed decision as a consumer.

An Aftermarket windshield has many pros and cons just as an OEM one does. They meet the same requirements that OEM ones do for safety standards dictated by the Department of Transportation. This is often the more cost-effective option when replacing a windshield and are easily attainable. The windshield is a safety-related part, as it structurally supports your vehicle. Due to this, and the fact that aftermarket parts often differ in slight ways, you need to be entirely sure when selecting your glass. A very attentive vehicle owner may notice minimal differences in color, waves and the unfortunate situation of leaking, though this is the exception not a rule.

OEM windshields are identical to the windshield your vehicle came with when it was first manufactured. These windshields have their own list of pros and cons, the largest and possibly only con being the expense. A brand new windshield from your dealership will be much more expensive than an aftermarket option, and may still not be from the same manufacturer as your original piece of glass as most vehicle manufacturers sublet out their glass production.

It is important to be informed before making any decisions involving your vehicle, especially when it comes to a piece as important as the windshield. In the event your insurance company denies an OEM part and you feel strongly about it, most companies can find a way to supply you with the OEM part if you pay the difference in price. We can steer you in the right direction should you need it! If you have any questions about which type of part should be installed on your vehicle, or which company we recommend for windshield install/repair, you can always reach out to one of our employees. We are always here to help!


Friday, August 23, 2019

What Is PDR?

Fall is a wonderful time of the year, full of pretty colors, cooler temps, and lots of hail. Hail season lasts into the winter and gets us ready for our busy season. That being said, hail season can often be just as busy as the winter season, but offers an unpredictable flare to the year. When hail storms hit, all kinds of storm chasers come up from the south and set up shop in the cities. Those storm chasers perform a special kind of auto body repair called PDR, or paintless dent repair. Paintless dent repair is exactly as it sounds, these technicians, and some of our own, remove the dents in your vehicle without painting it. Sounds crazy, we know. 

PDR is a lot simpler than you’d imagine. Picture big bright lights, a disassembled vehicle, and little (sometimes large!) rubber mallets. Your PDR technician is actually using pressure from inside the panels of your vehicle to slowly pound them out, reforming the metal to its original shape. The transformation is incredible to watch, and we highly recommend checking YouTube for a severe hail repair! The reason you can perform PDR in hail dents is because the hail pieces leave ridgeless dents in the panels of your vehicle. Dents from things like backing into a pole or getting rear ended aren’t typically candidates for PDR as the paint has been pushed to the point of breaking. However, we can occasionally fix a dent via PDR even if it has a ridge, as long as the paint has not cracked at all! The beauty of having an auto body shop look over your vehicle and repair it is that we can work directly with your insurance on the damage caused by the storm!

We understand though, you may not have full coverage on your vehicle, may not have the time to drop off the vehicle, or you may just want to experiment yourself! There are certain things you can do at home to attempt to repair hail damage. Heat is one way to get the metal panels on your vehicle to flex and return to its preformed shape. By parking your vehicle in the sun, sometimes certain dents can pop out themselves. We’ve heard of people trying hot water methods and using their hair dryers as well. These are all great DIY techniques if you don’t mind some paint discoloration. The other option here would be to chill the dents, some people have been said to use dry ice. They circle the dent with a piece of dry ice, attempting to coax the dent out of the metal. All these techniques have seen varied results, and we do not recommend attempting to repair your vehicle untrained at home, unless you’re not worried about how the vehicle looks afterwards. Attempts to repair the vehicle yourself could result in voiding your warranty, or loss of insurance coverage for the hailstorm. 

Naturally, we suggest bringing your vehicle into your local body shop, which is hopefully ours! There is no way to guarantee that these home remedies will work for your vehicle, and we always have time to help! Whether you’re just coming in for an estimate, or coming in for repairs, we are here to try and solve your problems as best we can. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

In A Collision? What Are Your Rights?

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, we are not your favorite group of people to see. We get it, who likes getting in an auto accident? Nobody comes to Oakdale Collision, throws open the doors and exclaims how excited they are about getting their car repaired. This is an inconvenience to you, your family, and your wallet. We want to make sure that before, during, and after this confusing time you know your rights as a consumer. 

                You have the right to pick where your car is repaired. This one baffles some people, because your insurance sometimes seems to omit this detail. Your insurance company has direct repair facilities it prefers to work with out of ease and contractual agreements holding the shop to certain rates. Occasionally, they will make recommendations to their clients where they should take their vehicles. This by no means requires you to use said body shop, however. You still have the option to get your vehicle repaired at whichever shop you prefer, regardless of where your insurance mentions. 

                You have the right to pick what kind of parts are used on your vehicle. This one can be a bit less clear, but you have a say in what kind of parts are put on your vehicle. There are typically three types of repair parts we could use; OEM, Non-OEM, or recycled parts. An OEM part is an “Original Equipment Manufacturer” part, meaning it was made by the manufacturer. A Non-OEM part is any part considered aftermarket, or made by someone other than the manufacturer, and a recycled part is exactly what the name suggests, recycled. Some insurance companies have you waive this right when you sign their policy statements, but for the most part you have the right to choose which type of part goes on your vehicle. 

                You have the right to a safely repaired vehicle. You can ask us any time about our processes, what we are certified in, and how we fix your vehicle. After the vehicle is finished, we will present you with an itemized copy of everything we did to your car. Our goal is always return your vehicle back to pre-accident condition, and that includes it being a safe vehicle to operate. 

                Our goal at Oakdale Collision is to build a relationship with our customers based on trust, and assurance that we are the very best at what we do. We know it’s true, and hope that one day you can see it too! If you need an estimate, need a repair, or just have some questions about what you should know as a customer, call us today! We’d be happy to help. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Dangers in Summer Driving

Summer is an exciting time of year. The sun is out, the cabin is open for the season, and hopefully the boat is out on the water. There’s a whole bustle of activity out there, and that’s not always a good thing. Everyone wants to be outside, which means there’s a much larger population of drivers on the road. That being said, it makes sense that summer is the most common time of the year for traffic accidents to occur. 

In the summer, we often see accidents due to construction zones. Especially in Minnesota, which should be renamed the Land of 10,000 Construction Projects, we spend most of our spring and summer avoiding construction. Presently, most of the metro is under construction. Before you take any trips, or have to drive somewhere unfamiliar, look up what construction is between you and your destination, and do your best to avoid it. Torn up concrete and debris can wreak havoc on your vehicle. Expensive havoc.

It’s in our best interests to remain vigilant while driving and pay attention to the road, which brings me to our next biggest cause of accidents; Distracted Driving. Set the right example for your family and keep your phone put away while you’re driving. Pay attention to the road, and make sure that whoever is in the car with you understands how seriously you take the safety of yourself, and theirs. In the world of apps and fancy smartphones, it’s almost inexcusable to be on your phone while driving. Applications now have safety features that include “drive mode” as well as most Apple updates for iPhones. 

Another thing to be conscious of as this summer heats up, is the condition of your tires. Tire blowouts are another one of the most common accidents we see in the summer. As the temperatures rise, bald tires are affected and their chances of blowing out under stress is much higher. This can cause damage to your vehicle, and others if uncareful. 

July and August hold the highest accident rate in our country, August taking the cake. Auto accidents kill more than 40,000 people in the United States a year! It is the leading cause of death in people under the age of 34. Every time you get into your vehicle, you’re risking your life, and the lives of those around you. We hope that you do so in the most informed manner possible. Accidents happen, and we are always here to assist you with any vehicle repairs or questions you may have. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Does It Really Take That Long?

           It used to be that we drove around in giant metal machines, operating purely on fuel and combustion. Things always change, and in today’s world you’re driving around in a high-tech computer. People still view their vehicles as a machine, but a car hasn’t been “just a machine” for the last fifty years! In 1968 Volkswagen introduced the first computer controlled function in a vehicle; the electronic fuel injector. This advancement in the car industry was huge! The ECU is now a standard seen in all vehicles, emerging in the 1960’s and still used today. By 1986 we had our first auto-driven cars, in 2017 Tesla introduced self driving semi-trucks, and today we’re looking at vehicles that are almost completely self-sufficient.

                This loose timeline is just that, very loose. Imagine all the advancements between the 60’s and today. Now imagine the advancements technicians have seen, working on these vehicles day in and day out. The industry now requires certified technicians, who have undergone training through each manufacturer in order to understand the innermost workings of these computers and the machine themselves. This is all great, because we want our technicians to be the best at what they do. When you put it all together though, what does that mean for you, the customer?
                Time. The biggest thing all these computers have changed during our repair process is time. We no longer have the ability to do one day bumper jobs, because that Audi A6 you drive has three sensors in the front bumper that allow you to feel a little bit safer in your car, but also require us to calibrate them if we remove or have to adjust the bumper. Every vehicle newer than 2008 is equipped with sensors in the passenger seat that signal occupancy and when to deploy airbags in the event of a crash, and has to be reset each time you’re in any minor collision. These sensors are a wonderful safety feature, but in that effort to ensure safety we’re also looking at additional time in a simple repair.

                We do our best to get your vehicles returned to pre-accident condition as soon as we can, but we also want your vehicle to be safe, efficient, and in proper working order before we return the vehicle to you. So when you get frustrated at how long your repairs are taking, consider the type of vehicle you drive, and the computer systems you use each day. The more complicated and high tech your vehicle is, the longer the repairs will take. So, yes, it does take that long, but rest assured that we are doing everything in our power to get your vehicle repaired and back to you safe and sound.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Negotiating A Total Loss With Insurance

We can’t always help what situations we end up in, no matter how hard we try. Sometimes, we forget to brush our teeth. Sometimes, we get into a car accident and our vehicle isn’t repairable. If your vehicle is one of the unfortunate ones that does total out, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re getting the best settlement possible. When a vehicle totals out, it’s actually declared a total by your insurance company. A body shop like ours can’t deem a vehicle repairable or totaled, it can only do what the insurance company declares. In the state of Minnesota, a vehicle is declared a total loss once it reaches 80% of reparability. Once your vehicle has exhausted 80% of reparability, your insurance will declare it a total loss and will reach out to you to settle. The thing that most people don’t know here, is that this settlement is negotiable.

If your insurance values your vehicle at something lower than you feel is fair, you can challenge them. You have the right to seek your own appraisal of your vehicle, and should do so. This is the best way to know for sure if you’re receiving a fair value. Anything challenged with your insurance will need concrete proof, so make sure you document any and all upgrade receipts or appraisals you receive that could help your case.

Another thing you should know is that your insurance includes licensing fees in your settlement. Think about this for a second. When you go out and purchase a new vehicle, you have to pay to license it. So, if your vehicle is worth $5,000, and they give you a check for $5,000, you’re actually being shorted the licensing fees to purchase a replacement vehicle valued at $5000. There are numerous things you should be aware of, but this one is often overlooked by consumers.

Customers of larger insurance carriers like State Farm and Farmers need to be aware of the little things that are wrapped into the total loss of a vehicle. Your insurance carrier doesn’t mean anything personal by this, but they do cut corners to save themselves money. The relationship you have with your agent doesn’t transfer over to the claims department. Their goal is to resolve as many claims and total losses as possible, for the least cost to the insurance. If they save $100 on your claim, and save that same $100 on 100 other claims, they’re saving their employer $1000.

A car accident is a headache for anybody involved. It’s an unpleasant, high stress and oftentimes takes a physical toll. You do your best to keep a good standing relationship with your insurance, take care of your vehicle, and to drive safely, but let’s face it; accidents happen. Sometimes a vehicle is repairable, sometimes it’s not. The moral here you need to take away, as with anything, is to know what your vehicle is worth. If you know the value of your car, you should have no problems negotiating with your insurance.