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.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

3M Clear Guard

It wasn’t long ago that protecting your paint job meant installing strange looking vinyl wings to your vehicle, that often left damage from the install. We live in a crazy world and now have the option of putting a sticky clear plastic sheet across the front of our vehicles that will alleviate the rock chips and scratches you would otherwise see in your travels. These clear bras are extremely subtle, and hard to spot unless you’re looking for it. There are numerous different varieties out there, but the clear bra we use at our shop is 3M, which is the best on the market.

Clear film is a great option for vehicle owners that just had their paint done, or are looking to keep a new vehicle looking like new. It’s best installed on high-risk areas of your vehicle, like the front bumper, hood or mirror backs. The films are easy to install, and can be done on site at our shop. They have a multitude of benefits, such as things like yellowing resistance, clarity and self healing technology. 3M originally designed this product to keep helicopter blades running longer, which earned it the nickname of Helicopter tape. However, this product was much heavier and less pliable than what is currently available on the market today. This product isn’t for everyone, or every vehicle. Some people don’t mind the rock chips, or have them already and aren’t interested in repainting their vehicles. Even if you have rock chips, you can get a clear bra installed on your vehicle to protect it from future chips. It does typically run a little expensive depending on where you go to have it done, and how much is being done. We work with our customers to ensure they receive the best value for their money, and can offer advice on what parts of your vehicle could use the clear shield the most.

At Oakdale Collision, we are dedicated to our customers and stand by our products. We want to provide the best experience possible, so if you have questions or would like a quote on clear guard for any portion of your vehicle, give us a call today! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Cars Aren't For Transportation

The autobody world is in constant fluctuation, due to the upgrades we regularly see in new vehicles on the market. Every year we see newer, more luxurious models of the well known manufacturers. Cars are no longer centered around transportation, they’ve become a mode of entertainment, as intelligent as our smartphones. These advancements are great for the consumer, but from the standpoint of a repair facility, it creates an entire new realm of training requirements, time constraints and overhead costs.

The beauty of this industry is in the endless possibilities. In the next coming years, vehicles will become more and more advanced. Here are five new advancements that will change how we repair cars, soon:
  • Augmented Reality Display. This technology is fascinating, and has a bit of a Tron feel. Imagine sitting at the wheel, and having access to the exact distance between you and the guardrail to your right, or the vehicle in front of you. Presently, BMW is working to get this technology into their vehicles, at no one's surprise. This very futuristic tech could be both a handy tool on the road, and as well as an unfortunate distraction.
  • Communication Between Vehicles, or vehicle to vehicle communication (V2V for short). You read that right, cars are starting to talk to one another. Cadillac implemented V2V communication i n 2017, which has been said to be similar to inter vehicle wifi. The purpose is to share the intent of the driver with other vehicles, potentially alleviating the possibility of a collision. This technology only works with other vehicles that have the same ability, but it could cut back on quite a few accidents out there.

  • Self Healing Paint. This technology is already available on the market for various other items, but the jump could be made to vehicles on the market before we know it. Self healing paint is softer than normal paints, and can absorb scratches. You would no longer have those soft scratches in your black paint, and we would see fewer paint jobs.

  • Solar Panel Powered Vehicles. Imagine how fantastic it would be to have a solar powered vehicle. This is possibly one of the most exciting advancements that may sound too good to be true. You should be comforted to know that Toyota has been researching this technology and its development since 2010.

  •  Fingerprint Touch Start. Who has actual keys anymore? There’s no specific date when manufacturers decided that keys were no longer “in” but that does seem to be the upward trend. Tesla features a credit card, most vehicles newer than 2010 have push start. Ford received the patent on fingerprint touch start technology in 2015.

With the constant changing environment we’re in, it’s a good thing we’re constantly working to stay up to date on the advancements we may see coming through our doors. There are so many new and exciting things on the market, we can’t wait to see what’s brought our way next! Come see us with any of your vehicle needs, no matter how old school or advanced your ride may be!

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.