Thursday, January 24, 2019

What Kind Of Paint?

A new paint job is a delicate beast, and everybody loves a good one. Today’s body shops are seeing a higher intake volume, and their production schedules are filling up fast. Ours is no different. The industry has had to adapt to the fast paced environment we live in, and through that we’ve seen a change in the way we paint our vehicles. Auto body shops simply cannot wait 90 days for paint to dry prior to washing cars anymore, so we’ve seen a vast influx of quicker drying paints on the market to keep repair times down.
                There are numerous different brands and types of paint on the market for auto body. The four most common types of paint used on vehicles are lacquer, urethane, enamel and water-based.  

·         Lacquer: This paint is rarely seen on vehicles these days due to how easily it chips. It was typically found on vehicles made between 1920-1960. This paint is high-gloss and easy to apply, but does not adhere well and will not last as long as desired.

·         Urethane: This paint is highly toxic, but is effective and easy to use creating beautiful paint jobs. It combines the smooth coverage of lacquer and the hard chipfree abilities of enamel to make an effective and beautiful paint. This is a more expensive option, but by far one of the prettiest ones on the market.

·         Enamel: This is a hard bake on paint. It is what is most commonly used in most body shops. The paint lasts much longer than lacquer, and is applied in two coats, a base coat and a top clear coat.

·         Water-based: Our preferred method of painting a vehicle is using water-based paint. It is much better for the environment, and much easier on our technicians. Instead of using solvents to suspend the pigment in the paint, it uses water. This paint is not as strong as enamel, so it typically requires an acrylic clear coat to protect it scratches and UV damage.

One of the most common questions we hear in this business is “how long do I need to wait to wash my vehicle?” Due to the various different types of paint on the market, an easy rule of thumb would be to assume that you do not have lacquer paint on your vehicle, provided it’s newer than 1960. That being said, you can wash your car immediately after driving it off the lot, though it is not recommended. Remember to always wash your vehicle in the shade, and to use soft terry towels and sponges without abrasive edges to ensure that your paint job stays nice and pristine for longer. If you accidentally scrape up your vehicle, remember we’re just a phone call away!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Winter, All Season or Summer Tire?

There are three main categories of tires on the market for your daily driver, all season tires, winter tires, and summer tires. Each type of tire has its own pros and cons, but when compared collectively, the most important thing to consider is the climate you deal with on your day to day. You want to ensure that you’re purchasing the most effective tire for your time, efforts, and for expense! Lets face it, tires are expensive!

Winter tires are the extreme of the three tires, and the best for living in a place like Minnesota. While you will fair alright with all season tires, for a driver inexperienced in heavy snowfall, we highly suggest the purchase of a true winter tire. They feature tread rubber, heavier depth with heavier patterns, and strong edges to cut into the snow.
  • Tread Rubber: in all season and summer tires, tread will stiffen in cold temperatures inhibiting the proper traction. Winter tires see tread that is designed to remain flexible regardless of temperature.
  • Tread Depth and Patterns: in winter tires, you see a more unique tread pattern or deeper divets in the tread to channel snow and slush, while also expelling water. Summer tires and all season tires have shallow tread and fewer patterns as it’s not an essentially part of driving in warmer weather.
  • Biting Edges: Winter tires also have higher sipe densities, which is tiny slits in the tread providing higher traction on ice. 

Typically when you purchase your vehicle and drive it off the lot, they’re outfitted with all season tires. All season tires were designed to provide year-round performance, making them an extremely popular choice. They are versatile and designed to function well on wet roads and in light winter driving. If you’re looking for tires that will allow you to drive year round without any extreme winters or storms, these are the ones you want.

All season tires are the compromise between winter and summer tires, meaning they have to compromise certain attributes. They don’t provide the same grip or handling of a summer tire, or the same ice capabilities of a true winter tire. Just like with your footwear, you’ll want the more extreme of the three based on what the conditions are outside. Nobody wants to wear flip-flops in a snowstorm or snow boots during a heat wave! The choice to purchase an all season tire should be made when you live in a moderate climate, free of extreme cold or ice, and free from extreme heat in the summer. In the event that your tires are ineffective in a storm, and you potentially ding up your vehicle, we’re here to help!

Friday, November 23, 2018

What is a Total Loss?

A common misconception in the autobody world is that the repair shop dictates what happens to your vehicle if it’s past the point of repair. That is false, while we can write estimates for our direct repair companies; it is always up to the insurer whether or not the vehicle will repair. The insurance company you’re working with will determine the salvage value of your car. Of course, there are easy ways to know what you should receive in a pay out if your vehicle totals, but the check itself is paid directly from your insurance, or the insurance that accepted liability of the claim.

The Actual Cash Value is how an insurer will know whether or not your vehicle is repairable. In the state of Minnesota, it operates on an 80% basis, where if the cost of repairs is higher than 80% of the vehicles value, the vehicle will total out. The ACV can be determined by anybody, so if you’re interested you can certainly double check the quote your insurance gives you. That is often recommended as in some instances, the insurance can “lowball” your settlement to avoid paying a heftier bill. They will use information like the condition of your vehicle, the mileage, and commonly things like NADA or Kelly Blue Book. While the year of your vehicle does play a factor, this doesn’t always mean that just because you drive a brand new car, it won’t total out after an estimate is written.

Once the insurer deems your vehicle a total loss, you have the option of buying back the total, or reaching a settlement with the insurance for the total. If you choose to buy the total loss back from your insurance, that will be a settlement between the two of you. This is not always the recommended path, because often the vehicle is not street safe and you could face penalties from the police for driving it. You have the option of working with us to make your vehicle safe, and keep costs down with aftermarket parts.

If you choose to accept that your vehicle is a total loss, the insurance will typically issue you a check for the ACV less any pending deductibles or fees. If you own the vehicle outright, you get the check in full. If there’s a lease or a loan on the car, the check will be issued to the financing company, any overages will be issued to you, but any overages will need to be paid out by you.

Nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks “Oh boy, I hope I wreck my car today!” but sometimes, that’s the reality we face as vehicle owners. Often times, people are fairly out of touch with the repair process. It’s not often to have a “favorite” collision shop, but we’re here to do our best and be the best for you. So, while we may not be your “favorite” stop, we aim to be transparent and helpfull in this difficult time. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Are Pre & Post Scans Necessary?

Car repair is not a walk in the park for anybody. Clips, moldings, and retainers break. Parts can be delivered damaged or just flat out wrong. There are many variables to every car that comes through our shop, it’s often times hard to predict what all goes into a repair before we’ve fully diagnosed each issue. We do our best to restore your vehicle to pre accident condition any time we see it. As time goes on, the newer vehicles become more and more sophisticated and have updated electrical systems.

If your vehicle is newer than 1996, it has computer systems that can make it difficult to identify underlying issues even for our master technicians. All OEM vehicles newer than 2005 involved in even a minor collision can typically require both a pre-and-post scan, as well as a passenger seat occupancy sensor scan. A vehicle is made up of all kinds of different components, from parts, electronics, and highly sophisticated computers, we do our best to be as well versed as possible in each and every vehicle we see.

Due to the level of intelligence your vehicle is now capable of, sometimes there are underlying issues that can’t be identified simply by looking at a car. You must use a tool to scan the vehicle to try and identify what electrical component is misfiring. Electrical issues that go unresolved can sometimes create serious and dangerous issues with your vehicle. Occasionally, we can run into instances where an insurance company will deny the scans on your vehicle. They’re primarily concerned with the costs associated with doing business with a body shop, not with the safety of you and your vehicle.

A pre-repair diagnostic scan will identify all potential issues that could have been created during an accident, it will identify which systems in your vehicle need to be repaired or calibrated. Any dents, broken glass, battery or electrical issues can flag during a diagnostic scan. The post-repair scan will ensure that all systems are working properly once your vehicle is fully reassembled, and verify that it is safe and ready for you to drive home.

We repair each vehicle to the quality specifications deemed necessary by the OE vendor you purchased your vehicle through. Due to liability reasons, it is often times necessary to scan a vehicle regardless of if your insurance company approves the additional costs or not. If you ever have any questions about the specifications, or if your vehicle has been scanned, feel free to reach out to us about it. We are more than happy to help.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How Do We Know What To Charge

Accidents are never fun, you have to take the time out of your day to get your vehicle to the shop, and play the middle man between your insurance and the body shop. You take the time to bring your car around the city to two separate body shops, and then have to send in two estimates on the damages. So, what happens after you’ve had that additional estimate done?

What most people outside the industry don’t know is that the body shop doesn’t dictate what is done to your vehicle, your insurance does. We create an estimate based on what we believe will be required to repair the car, but that doesn’t mean that the insurance company will pay it. A body shop can give you an estimate on what they know to be damage done during an accident, but they must go off of what your insurance approves for the vehicle. In the state of Minnesota, we are fortunate to be able to approve or decline the use of aftermarket parts, but that’s the extent of control you have over repairs.

Once your vehicle is brought into the shop, the technicians will perform a teardown, and pull all the pieces off of your vehicle to see if there’s any additional hidden damage. This phase is referred to as the blueprinting of the vehicle. It allows the body shop to write a preliminary supplement for the insurance to look over and approve. The insurance has three options. They can have a representative from their company inspect the disassembled vehicle through photos or in person, they can have one of our employees do it for them, or they hire an outside company to approve these supplements. These processes can take weeks, depending on how well established the relationship between the insurance adjuster and the body shop is. 

Your insurance, or the other parties insurance, often dictates the hourly rates, the markup on parts, and the number of hours that can be charged for a certain repair. We have to make sure that we’re getting enough money to do the work, so you can imagine where the back and forth could take additional time while repairing your vehicle. Best case scenario, you find a body shop that’s direct repair with your insurance. State Farm for example has direct repair programs with many body shops across the nation, and this simply means they trust the body shop to write an estimate that meets all of State Farms compliance requirements. This keeps the repair time on the vehicle at a minimum, so you can get your car back quicker than going to a non direct repair facility. 

We are at the mercy of your insurance, and cannot work on a car if they’re not informing us of the work needed to be done. We do our best to keep our customers, employees and insurance companies happy, but we have to work with each insurance to establish a unique repair process for every vehicle that comes through our doors. Keep tabs on your repair, by working with us to get all the necessary information prior to bringing your vehicle into the shop, and remember to keep in contact with your agent to ensure you’re back in your vehicle as soon as possible!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Out of Pocket Or Insurance? What's The Difference

A lot of people wander into the shop questioning if it’s better to pay out of pocket or to file their claim with insurance. Each situation is different, so our responses will be varied. You can never truly know if it’s best to file a claim unless you know what the cost of repairs will be. The first step in any repair process will be to get an estimate done on your vehicle. This is a great way to know whether you can afford the repair, and another way to see if your rates could potentially rise.

In the state of Minnesota, you have the option to have your vehicle repaired anywhere you wish, regardless of where your insurance may be a ‘Direct Repair Facility.’ That’s just a fancy way of saying that the shop on their list knows all the guidelines the insurance requires for a proper claim and repair. In your case, this doesn’t help with anything but timing. A direct repair facility allows the insurance to process the claim without the need to send out an independent appraiser or adjuster, which means it eliminates the time constraints of another person's schedule.

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is whether or not the claim is going to increase your rates. We can’t predict that for you, and it’s very likely it could increase them, but in the end you’re paying for your insurance month to month in case of accident. Why wouldn’t you use it when you get into an accident? As a party in a no fault state, your rates could potentially rise regardless of who files the claim, as it’s considered a two fault accident. The insurance evaluates this with a number of factors such as; the circumstances of the accident, if you have accident forgiveness on your policy, or your likelihood of getting into another incident.

If you’re in a claimant situation, then it’s likely best to file the claim with the other parties insurance. Being the nice guy and allowing the party to pay out of pocket is beneficial if there’s minor damage, but if the damage is extensive, you’re going to want to fall back on their coverage. An owner pay estimate has no real benefits aside from not letting your insurance know about the accident. Some body shops offer discounts on their labor rates for an owner pay, or discounts on parts, but repairs can be an expensive dent in your wallet.

In the end, the decision is up to you. If you’re more comfortable working with an insurance company, or without one, it’s your prerogative to do so. Our goal is to return your vehicle in pre accident condition, and whether that is through your insurance, or in an out of pocket job, the quality of your repairs will be the same. Let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help put this process behind you.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Remanufactured or Aftermarket Parts

Let's talk about remanufactured and aftermarket parts for a repair on your car. 

An aftermarket part is any part for a vehicle that’s not sourced from the vendor or cars maker. These, in some cases, can alter or even void the existing warranty you have on your car. Some companies create aftermarket parts that function the same as the preexisting part, and sometimes they can alter the way your car operates. The goal with an altered part is for either curb appeal or to improve the way your vehicle operates. These differ from Original Equipment Manufacturer parts specifically because they’re not created by the same vendor.
Aftermarket parts have many pros such as being less expensive than OEM, there’s a larger variety available, and you can pick them up at any parts store or the local mechanic in your area. While all of this is appealing if you know the ins and outs of the part, you’re also facing quite a few reasons you wouldn’t want an aftermarket part. They can be inferior parts because they’re not regulated the same way as OEM parts. You’re literally “getting what you pay for” because the cheaper they are, the more likely they are to be lower quality. That doesn’t always ring true, but in this case you have a higher chance of finding a poor quality part as opposed to purchasing directly from your dealership. There’s also a ridiculous amount of parts available in today's market, so unless you’re familiar with a specific vendor, it can be hard to make a choice. These parts also don’t often come with a warranty, which is part of why they are so cost effective.

On the other hand, a remanufactured part is a part that was completely remanufactured to the standards set by the vehicle manufacturer. This process can be performed in many different ways, but often includes re-machining the part to match the original tolerances, durability and quality. They include a warranty, which cover the part and labor for longer periods of time than you’d find with an aftermarket parts. These are commonly preferred over aftermarket, but you’re going to find ones that match your vehicles specifics as opposed to finding ones that add flare to your vehicle.
In the long run, if you have questions about the type of parts you should use on your repair, it's always a good idea to ask a professional.