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. 

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!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Minor Scratches, Major Problems

When you first purchase your vehicle, you’re extremely conscious of how close you park to others, and every tiny knick in your paint job. As time goes on, you’re less likely to notice the small dings that appear on your car, but that’s not something to be taken lightly. There’s a number of reason to pay close attention to all minor and major things that affect your vehicle, but our main focus is rust.

A minor scratch can chip away and expose larger portions of metal that will oxidize when exposed to moisture. This often sneaks up on a vehicle owner, and before you know it your vehicle has depreciated at twice the normal rate due to a few unsupervised scratches. Our Minnesota winters are certainly not any help, the heavy wet snow can allow moisture to freeze against the paint metal causing the vehicle to rust faster. We heavily rely on salt to help avoid accidents, but can expedite the rust on your vehicle. Regular car washes can help reduce your chances of rust, especially during the winter months. The snow, ice, and constant fluctuation in temperatures will cause the moisture to continually expand and contract against your paint creating larger wedges between the metal and paint on your car.

Light scratches that only touch the surface can be buffed out and dealt with easily. In some cases, you can purchase touch up paint at your local auto parts store or dealership, but this quick repair is not always advised. You’ll need to take into account the year of your vehicle and if a repair is worth the cost for you. In most older vehicles, the first places you’ll see rust are the wheel wells, fenders, and rocker panels. In some cases, when the paint is removed there is additional rust found underneath, the moisture has seeped in between the paint and metal and began eating away at the foundation of your vehicle. This occurs when the clear coat sealant in your paint has begun to fade or chip away due to wear, and can be unavoidable in older models of cars.

Rust is something that more often than not, cannot be repaired. It will generally require the technician to completely replace the portion of your vehicle that has been affected. If the affected area is a quarter panel or a frame piece you’re facing a hefty repair bill, if it’s even repairable at all. The best way to avoid rust, is to pay close attention to all bare metal on your vehicle. Regularly check your car for new scratches or dings. If you notice a scratch in your vehicle that is down to the metal, bring your vehicle in today for an estimate on what can be done. A paint job can add up, but it’ll keep your vehicle rust free, and will cost less in the long run!

Friday, March 23, 2018

It's Road Trip Time

We’re all (not so) patiently awaiting summer, spending our days dreaming of all the great adventures we’re going to have. Whether it’s finally replacing the furnace in your house, or flying around the world, there has to be time for a little road trip somewhere in the middle. If you’re like me, you’re planning on packing as much in when the weather permits as possible. One of the best parts of living in the continental United States is the ability to take off for a couple days in your car, and not worry about where the road takes you.

In the spirit of summer, here is a list of things to look into before you venture out into the unknown.

  • Know the basics of your car. While this is advised for everyday life, it’s most important when you’re going to be in your vehicle for long periods of time. You should be well versed in the language of your car, from things like random noises the rear windshield wiper makes to what each dash light signifies, you want to be read up and ready for anything thrown your way.
  • Learn some road trip games. There are tons out there, from car bingo to 20 questions. Make something up if you have to, but try and keep yourself entertained while traveling from point A to point B. The more you’ve read up on, the more fun you’ll have.
  • Check out your tires! They need to be in good shape for this road trip, depending on how far your adventure takes you. Make sure that you have substantial tread and that the tire pressure is as stated in the manual.
  • Three things; first aid kit, tool kit, emergency contacts. Keep all of these in your vehicle for this trip, and preferably year round. You’ll need to make sure you have a list of your emergency contacts in case of an accident. The first aid kit and tool kit are pretty self explanatory, but keep them around because you never know when you’ll get a flat or need a band-aid!
  • Audiobooks, playlists and podcasts, oh my! The road can be long and boring if you’re not properly prepared. Keep you and your buddies in great spirits by supplying a fun and unique list of things to listen to throughout your adventure.
  • Last but not least, food. This is an important one, you’re going to be swayed into eating poorly while on the road. Gas stations offer all kinds of short term sugar pick me ups, but with every sugar rush, there’s an equally tough crash. Pack high protein and high fiber snacks so you can keep on truckin’.
Road trips are a great way to make long lasting memories with your family or friends. Don’t sweat the small stuff, there’s bound to be a convenience store between stops, but try to focus on what the whole point of this trip is about memories. So get out there and experience life on the road, even if it’s just for a little bit.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Perks of Detailing Your Vehicle

We all crave that new car smell and feel. When you pull a new one off the lot, and it’s pristine, no smells waft out of the seats when you plop down and there’s no ground in goldfish from your kids in the backseat… That new car feeling is desirable, so what if you can get that feeling with the car you already own? There are many benefits to having regular details done on your vehicle, from the mental benefit of feeling clean, to impressing your friends with your sweet ride. What if detailing your car could up the resale value? Guess what, it does. Regularly detailing your vehicle has tons of benefits, and so here’s a couple of reasons why:
  • Having your vehicle professionally detailed will clean out any excess salt from your wheels, undercarriage, wheel wells, engine compartment, and all the other nooks and crannies in your car. This prevents potential corrosion. 
  • Even small scratches in the paint can oxidize, and having those scratches buffed out and sealed protect your vehicle from rust. Professional detailing products contain UV protectant's that will help keep your paint from fading. 
  • The interior of your vehicle will fade from the sun, as well as absorb all kinds of random odors that are faint to you, but evident to others. A professional detailer can eliminate those odors and restore your interior with various products. 
  • They will clean out your engine compartment. You read that right, a lot of people will wash their vehicle and forget that the engine compartment also needs to be taken care of! When you’re selling or trading in your vehicle, a clean engine compartment will instill confidence in the potential buyer by showing them that you maintain your vehicle. 

Market experts say that detailing can up the value of your vehicle by 15%. That’s an incredible jump for any car, especially if you’re in the position to purchase a new vehicle. If you know that you’re going to be in the market for something new in the near future, or even if you’re planning on keeping your vehicle until the end of time, taking care of your belongings will make them last longer. Get your car professionally detailed today for the peace of mind, and to protect one of the larger investments in your life.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Help Us Help You

You know your car better than anybody else, you drive it each day, you know what weird kinks it has, and what new damage has occurred. Before you bring your car in for an estimate or repairs, look over each panel on your car and make sure everything you want fixed is being pointed out to your estimator. We will do our best to return your vehicle to its original pristine condition, but without your help, we can’t meet your expectations.

During the repair process, we aim to get everything accident related taken care of and approved by insurance, but there are times where damage can be overlooked and assumed to be unrelated prior damage. If you know that a dent was part of the accident, then bring it up during your initial drop off to make sure the damage is properly taken care of.

In some instances, there’s a scratch that you hate seeing every day. Let us know, and we can do our best to get it taken care of. If you’re looking for a more thorough fix, we can take care of the damage while your vehicle is in the shop. Getting everything sorted out prior to drop off will keep your time without your vehicle shorter, and will save you time in the long run. 

When you return to pick up your vehicle, make sure to do a thorough walk through with your estimator. If there’s damage that we missed, let us know so we can properly take care of you and your vehicle. There are many standards we have set for a repair, and want to make sure we’re doing the best we can for you. Let us know if anything was missed, or if you feel things were ignored.

Look over your car to make sure it’s been properly washed and vacuumed. We provide clean up to restore your vehicle to how it was dropped off, so make sure the panels are clear of salt or other road debris. Pay attention to any panel gaps, or non-matching painted panels, verify that your repair was properly completed and fits your expectations. Make sure to test that all your lights and electronics are working properly before leaving, so you can safely return home. If you make it home and find you’re unsatisfied with our repairs, give us a call so we can sort it out for you. Our goal is to return your vehicle to pre-
accident condition, and we plan to do the best we can for you.