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. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

What's the Point Of An Oil Change?

The importance of routine maintenance should be clear and simple, but can often be pushed off due to everyday life getting in the way. Every morning you have a routine. You wash your face, brush your teeth, and perform general self-care. When those things are ignored, you feel bogged down and don’t navigate your day the same way you would otherwise. Your car works the same way.
Routine maintenance involves multiple steps, and there are many checklists out there for the average or even well versed vehicle owner to follow. Our focus in this post is going to be on the routinely forgotten oil change. Each vehicle has different guidelines on how often, what kind, how many miles and the other specs involved with oil changes. Most mechanics will recommend an oil change every 3,000 miles, while some manufacturers specify 5,000. There are some vehicles with synthetic oil, which can allow you to wait up to 10,000 miles per oil change. If you don’t know what kind of oil your vehicle takes, check the owner's manual or call your local go to lube technician.
Here are a few reasons you should change your oil regularly:
  1. Improve your gas mileage. It’s a good idea to regularly check and make sure you have enough clean oil in your vehicle, as dirty oil leads to poor engine lubrication. This will increase the gas consumption your vehicle uses in a trip, so keeping up on clean oil will decrease the amount you’re spending on gas.
  2. Promotes longer vehicle life span and resale value. Regularly maintained vehicles sell for a higher value, according to Kelley Blue Book. If you’re neglecting to change the oil in your vehicle the engine components work much harder and are more likely to malfunction without proper care. 
  3. Keeps the engine cool. Without proper lubrication the parts in your engine will generate friction, which creates heat. If you don’t get an oil change regularly, you run the risk of overheating your engine and the possibility of it seizing. 
  4. Keeps things clean and clear of particles. Dirt and corrosion build up can be deadly to an engine. Over time, these build up and decrease the lifespan of your engine. Old oil breaks down and becomes viscous, turning into a sludge which is inefficient for engines.
There are many reasons to maintain a clean engine, these are just a few. Just like with all of your other investments, you need to maintain proper care to ensure the longevity of them. Your vehicle is no different. It’s okay if you don’t always know what’s needed to keep a good car, running like a good car. There are plenty of professionals out there waiting to help you. The better you take care of your vehicle, the longer it’ll take care of you. Check your stickers, check your oil, and schedule the next oil change today. If you are looking for a good shop, we are always happy to give you a recommendation.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Does That Accident Void Your Warranty

There are typically two types of warranties on a vehicle when purchasing, a bumper-to-bumper and a powertrain warranty. The powertrain on any vehicle is considered any car parts that allow the frame pieces to move or function, so things like the engine, transmission, and drivetrain are covered under this type of warranty. A bumper-to-bumper warranty is for essentially the rest of the vehicle, including tires, provided they have problems before they wear out. Each warranty is completely unique to the manufacturer, but more often powertrain warranties cover a longer duration than any bumper-to-bumper warranty would. Some manufacturers like Dodge, Chrysler or Jeep offer limited lifetime warranties on powertrains, while most others cover between 60,000-100,000 miles (or 4-6 years) while bumper-to-bumper covers 30,000-50,000 miles (generally between 3-5 years).
  • Everyday use typically won’t void your warranty, but the following could:
  • Off-roading, or racing a vehicle putting it through “extreme” usage
  • “Acts of God” otherwise known as damage caused by floods or earthquakes
  • Disregard for routine maintenance, things like oil changes, tire rotations, air filter replacement… you get the idea.
  • Any modification to the vehicle, especially the odometer
Modifying your vehicle can cover a broad spectrum of things, and in some cases that includes installing aftermarket parts. However, due to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, coverage cannot be denied unless the dealership can prove that the aftermarket part itself caused the damage. They cannot deny you coverage for simply using an aftermarket or recycled part, but if that part was installed incorrectly or was defective, and they can prove that it caused damage to other parts on your vehicle, they can deny coverage and require payment for repairs.

Long story short, being in a car accident will not void the warranty on your vehicle, unless your insurance company deems it a total loss. If you are in an accident that requires a salvage stamp on your title, the warranties on your vehicle will no longer be applicable. If you’re maintaining your vehicle, putting it through routine inspection and maintenance, your warranty shouldn’t be voided. Like with anything, make sure you’re reading the fine print and looking into all the aspects of your warranty before you purchase, and if possible avoid installing expensive suspension or lift kits unless you’re willing to risk your warranty.
At Oakdale Collision we do our best to return your vehicle to pre-accident condition. If you have any concerns while your vehicle is in the shop, we’re just a short phone call away!