Vehicle Maintenance at Home

Are Do-It-Yourself Auto Body Repairs Wise?

Your car recently sustained some damage while rear-ended at a traffic light.  The other driver was found to be at fault, and their insurance company cut you a check for the collision repairs.  However, you’ve decided to forgo taking it to an auto body shop, do the work yourself, and pocket most of the insurance money.  But is that really wise?  Even minor car accidents can cause hidden problems that may not present until later.  And, if you’re not experienced at auto body work the results may reflect that.  With this in mind, here are some potential problems with do-it-yourself collision repairs.

Matching Auto Paint Is Difficult

Matching the original paint for even minor scratches on your vehicle is difficult.  Newer cars use formulas that require two or three coats of different colors or special finish treatments to give the paint job its unique look.  Metallic and pearl finishes are very hard to match.  When you’re done, you may end up with dull or faded patches of mismatched paint.  Also, breathing auto body paint fumes, especially those containing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), can be very hazardous to your health.  Body shops use restorative paint finish processes and safety precautions that may be unavailable to you.

Hidden Vehicle Electrical Problems

Even minor fender benders can jar loose hidden electrical wiring connections.  If you don’t have the equipment and expertise to check the electrical systems, you could later experience problems with your lights, battery, stereo, power windows, seats and door locks.  Some of those could take a while to show up, and then cost you a lot of money to diagnose and fix.

Unseen Frame and Alignment Damage

Even low impact car accidents can cause minor frame bending.  It also doesn’t take much to knock a vehicle out of alignment.  Regarding the body’s frame, if it’s even slightly bent it reduces your vehicle’s ability to absorb an impact at any speed.  Bent frames can also interfere with normal airbag deployments during an accident.  Auto body shops have equipment that measures how straight your frame is, and then straightens it if necessary.

When your car is misaligned, it will pull to the right or left while driving.  In addition to poor steering, a vehicle that’s out-of-alignment causes uneven tire tread wear and more frequent tire replacements.  Most do-it-yourselfers don’t have the ability to check their vehicle’s alignment, and will have to spend some out-of-pocket cash to have it aligned properly.

Windshield Replacements Are Tricky

Let’s say you were involved in a front-end impact that cracked the windshield and you’ve decided to replace it yourself.  Windshield replacements aren’t hard, but they can be dangerous if you don’t have the right tools.  For one, a windshield is very heavy and can easily be dropped.  Or, when installing it you could set it into place incorrectly, unknowingly creating a crack that may grow into a larger one later on.  The windshield must also be sealed properly against moisture and wind or you’ll have leaks.  That’s why windshield replacements are best left up to experienced technicians.

Auto Body Shops Nearby Do It Right

When your car needs some collision repair work done, auto body shops in your area stand ready to answer the call.  Afterwards, your car will look better, drive safer and perform as it should.  They have the tools, equipment and expertise to get the job done right.  And, body shops near you have the safe working conditions and waste disposal capabilities that you probably don’t at home.  In fact, do-it-yourself auto body repairs could cost you a lot more in the end when something goes wrong.  To search your zip code for a better collision repair shop near you, visit now.


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Does Auto Detailing Increase My Car’s Value? blog header

Does Auto Detailing Increase My Car’s Value?

Have you ever noticed how amazingly clean your car is, inside and out, when you pick it up from a collision repair shop?  That’s because body shop technicians know that professional detailing keeps your vehicle looking like new while protecting its interior and exterior.  And, many auto body shops provide in-house car detailing services, including exterior, interior and engine bay.  But will getting your vehicle detailed enhance its worth?  Let’s take a more in-depth look at the three types of detailing, and if they actually increase your car’s value.

Exterior Auto Detailing Restores & Protects

Weather elements and the sun’s UV rays cause your car’s paint to fade and dull.  In addition, your finish experiences scratches, oxidation (rust) and parking lot dings.  Wheel surfaces also get quite dirty, and all these factors can lower your car’s resale value.  To counteract those, professional detailers use these steps to restore and protect car exteriors:

  • Wash and scrub the outside with a deep penetrating brush, including the wheels
  • Dry all surfaces with a soft, microfiber mitt
  • Gently polish out light scratches, oxidation & swirl marks
  • Wax the paint, usually with a high-quality, carnauba-based paste product
  • Methodically clean & then apply protective polish to rubber trim areas

Professional detailing products contain UV inhibitors that protect paint while extending its life.  When a car exterior’s finish is restored to its original condition, it’s not only eye-catching, but it also projects an image that the vehicle was well taken care of, inside and out.  In the end, that adds overall value to your car.

Car Interiors Benefit from Detailing

Auto interior carpeting, upholstery, trim and mats are constantly subjected to wear-and-tear, including food and beverage spills, cigarette smoke, mud and pets.  Additionally, the sun’s UV rays can fade your upholstery, trim and dash.  Professional detailers know how to restore the original beauty of leather, fabric and carpeting using various cleaning and sanitizing processes.

First they thoroughly vacuum and shampoo the inside of your car, and then use high-quality, commercial-grade products to clean and protect the seats, trim, and carpeting.  On leather seats and trim, they first deeply scrub the material and then use special conditioners.  All of these detailing tricks prolong your car interior’s life and removes unwanted odors.  As a result, this adds value to your vehicle.

Detailed Engines Boost a Car’s Value

Have you ever popped the hood on a used car that you’re looking at and the engine was spotless?  Seeing a clean motor instills confidence in a potential buyer.  That’s why dealers have their detailers carefully clean the engines as they prep used cars for sale.  And if you’ve had auto body repairs done, notably for a front-end collision, you’ll see a professionally- detailed engine when the work is finished.  That makes you feel more confident in the repairs, right?  When you are selling or trading in your vehicle, the emotional impact is the same.

Mechanics also love to work on vehicles with clean engines, as it allows them to assess and diagnose problems more easily.  Here’s how most detailers clean up grimy car engines:

  • They gently clean off loose dirt with a light water spray
  • Then they wipe down the engine components with a commercial degreaser, and rinse it off again
  • After drying completely, all rubber, silicone and plastic engine components are “dressed” with special protective compounds to prevent cracking

A clean engine compartment will add value to your car by making it more attractive to a potential buyer or when trading it in at a dealership.

Body Shops Near You Provide Auto Detailing

According to used car experts, annual professional detailing can boost the market value of your vehicle by up to 15%, depending upon the make, year and overall condition.  Without question, auto detailing increases your car’s worth, especially when it’s over five years old.  Not only that, but as long as you continue driving it, detailing will protect the finish from the elements and the inside from wear-and-tear.  And, when a mechanic needs to do some repairs, a detailed engine increases the odds that they will be performed correctly the first time!  As was mentioned earlier, most collision repair shops offer professional detailing services.  To search your zip code for one in your area, visit now.

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Can Minor Fender Benders Conceal Serious Problems?

Can Minor Fender Benders Conceal Serious Problems?

Your car was recently involved in a low impact fender bender which dented the bumper and scratched some paint.  Because the accident was so minor, you’ve decided to skip taking it to an auto body shop.  But is that wise?  Even minor fender benders can cause more serious underlying problems to your car that may not show up until later.  And when those issues finally present themselves, repairs can be costly.  Whenever your vehicle sustains body damage that’s more than paint scratches it’s wise to have it inspected at a collision repair shop.  Here’s why.

Potential Electrical System Failure 

Your car’s electrical wiring is delicate, and even a minor jolt could have loosened wires.  Those won’t be noticeable at first, but could potentially cause a short.  Shorts can lead to power windows and door locks that malfunction, along with your vehicle’s antitheft system.  In the event of a front-end fender bender, a battery connector could get knocked loose, meaning that the battery may not recharge properly and/or the aforementioned electrical components on your car may start acting up.  A body shop technician can inspect your wiring after removing the damaged body panel or bumper cover.

The Alignment May Be Off

This occurs more frequently in front-end fender benders, as they commonly will cause misaligned tires.  As a result, your car could begin pulling to one side or the other, or the ride will seem rough and uncomfortable.  This could lead to uneven tire tread wear and vehicle handling difficulties.  And, replacing a set of tires is an expensive undertaking.  After a fender bender of any kind, your alignment should be professionally checked.

Your Car’s Frame Could Be Bent

If your auto is involved in even a low speed accident, the frame could sustain damage.  Although unnoticeable by you, a slightly bent frame can cause your vehicle’s structural integrity to be compromised.  When that happens, it can adversely alter how effectively your air bag deploys in an accident.  Additionally, your car’s ability to absorb an impact, especially a more serious one, is jeopardized.  Collision repair shops have equipment that can measure how straight your car’s frame is, and whether it matches OEM factory specifications.

Other Lingering Fender Bender Issues

In addition to the fender bender issues mentioned above, there are other lingering and potentially expensive problems that may be concealed from your view.  Those include:

  • Transmission problems- All-wheel drive (AWD) autos are especially susceptible to these even when rear-ended slightly. AWD cars have drive shafts that can easily get pushed into the vehicle’s transmission, creating the potential for expensive repairs.
  • Rust opportunities- Even minor scratches or dings may expose underlying metal, as paint serves to protect the body from water. When it comes in contact with water or road salt, your car’s metal structural materials can rust.
  • Wheel well rubbing- If your car’s body panel gets manipulated at all during a fender bender, metal or plastic material could possibly start rubbing a spinning tire and cause damage to it.
  • Suspension & steering problems- On most vehicles these are very delicate and even low speed impacts can knock them out of whack. That will negatively affect how your car handles or rides.  Hitting a pothole can also cause damage to your suspension and/or steering systems.
  • Engine mechanical performance- If you are involved in even a low speed front end accident, modern engine components are complex and intricate. Minor damage to any of those systems can cause more serious mechanical issues later.

Get Your Fender Bender Damage Checked by a Pro

Even low impact fender benders can disrupt your car’s mechanical performance and compromise safety.  And, any required future repairs can be costly as opposed to getting your car immediately inspected.   When a fender bender strikes have your car checked out by a professional auto body technician right away.  To search your zip code for a reliable collision repair shop nearby, visit now.


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Auto Body Shop - Consumer Inspection

How Do I Inspect My Car When the Body Work Is Done?

Your car was involved in a pretty serious accident, and it’s been at the collision repair shop for a few weeks.  They’ve just called to let you know it’s ready, and you will be anxiously picking it up soon.  At this point you are a little nervous that the repairs were done right, and are wondering what to look for when you get there.  Upon arrival, a technician should carefully walk around the car with you using a written checklist while explaining what was done and why.   Ask them about the shop’s warranty, as many reputable collision repair shops guarantee their work for one-year or 12,000 miles.  That said, it’s still important for you to conduct your own inspection before driving off.   Here are some key inspection tips to use:

Is Your Vehicle Clean?

Dirt hides imperfections and that’s why your car should be spotless inside and out when you pick it up.  Make sure that it has been washed and vacuumed out thoroughly so that you can easily inspect the areas that were repaired.  Even your floor mats and engine should be clean.  In addition, the technicians shouldn’t have left any old parts lying around in the trunk, engine compartment or interior; not even a single nut or bolt.  When you pick up a clean auto it presents the shop more professionally, and gives you less reason to doubt their work.  Once you’re satisfied with the initial “eye test”, a more careful inspection comes next.

Inspect Your Car’s Repaired Area(s)

Let’s say for illustration purposes that your car sustained some major front-end damage.  That means not only were body panel replacements and painting required, but also repairs to the suspension, frame and engine components.  Inspect the following:

  • The body panel seams for uneven gaps
  • Open and close the doors, hood and trunk to notice the fit while listening for strange rubbing sounds. Make sure they open easily and close securely.
  • If an air bag was deployed was it replaced?
  • Check the distance between the tires and fenders and compare those from side to side
  • Ensure that all hoses and wires are connected
  • Turn on your headlights and inspect the beam alignment
  • If the frame needed straightening request a copy of the frame spec printout and have the before and after numbers explained to you

If all those check out, now it’s time to carefully inspect your car’s paint and finish.

How do I Find Auto Paint Job Mistakes?        

Even when technicians have the factory paint codes, one of the hardest parts of the collision repair process is matching paint to the rest of your car.  Existing paint fading dictates that technicians still have to add a little tint to get your car’s restored finish perfect.  Most vehicles on the road have what’s called an “orange peel” paint texture that’s sometimes hard to match.  These are all reasons to pick up your vehicle during the day and look at it in the bright sunlight.  Do so up close first, and then step back several paces from the vehicle to pick up any panel paint inconsistencies.  Look for imperfections due to hairs, dirt specs or overspray.

Other Collision Repair Flaws to Look for

Performing these inspection steps will go a long way in ensuring that the collision repairs were properly completed.  Also it’s important to test drive your vehicle before approving the work, and look for strange noises, poor performance and questionable handling.  Does it drive and steer okay?  Are there strange rattles or shimmies?  If something just doesn’t seem right, ask a technician at the shop what could be wrong.

If you aren’t satisfied with their answers, request to speak with the owner for clarification and/or refuse to sign off on the work until it’s repaired satisfactorily.  Some problems may not show up until later, such as uneven tire wear from a poor alignment, or fluid leaks where it’s parked.  Don’t forget that most reputable shops offer warranties up to 12,000 miles and one-year.  In the end, conducting your own inspection when you pick it up goes a long way in guaranteeing the job was done right.  For a list of better collision repair shops in your area, search your zip code now on:

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How are Auto Body Repair Shops Going Green?

How Are Auto Body Repair Shops Going Green?

Many of us share a passion for protecting the earth’s environment by using increasingly “green” behaviors and technologies.  Many collision repair shops are also now adopting more eco-friendly processes and materials in an effort to do so.   Here are a few of the green practices now being used at an auto body repair shop near you.

Eco-Friendly Auto Body Paints

In the past, body shops used solvent-based paints and coatings.  Those contain chemicals like xylene, toluene and methyl ethyl ketone which are classified as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).  VOCs are hazardous to humans and contaminate our water and air supplies.  Today, more and more collision repair shops use earth-friendly waterborne paint systems on vehicles.

Water-based paints still provide vibrant colors, meet OEM factory standards, and result in tough acrylic paint finishes that protect well.  Other advantages of green painting methods include:

  • Better air quality for the repair technicians and environment
  • Reduce hazardous waste amounts
  • Lower costs because no additives or hardeners are required

The next time your car needs collision repairs, ask the shop first if they’ve gone green with their painting processes.

Collision Repair Shops are Recycling Parts  

Whenever a vehicle has been involved in an accident, there are parts that need to be replaced, and old ones that must be disposed of.  Decades ago many of those would end up cluttering landfills, while possibly releasing harmful chemicals into the surrounding environment.  Today, auto body shops routinely send used materials to recycling centers, including:

  • Scrap metals like aluminum and steel
  • Plastic bumper covers
  • Batteries
  • Radiators
  • Tires & wheels
  • Glass
  • Paint & paint solvents

These materials are being recycled whenever possible, and then reused again by auto replacement part and paint suppliers.  In the end, the Earth stays healthier.

Other Green Auto Body Repair Advancements

In addition to the environmentally-friendly methods mentioned above, collision repair businesses are doing the following in an attempt to produce less waste:

  • Employing paintless dent repair that uses existing body parts rather than replacing them
  • Purchasing materials like oil, cleaning solutions and antifreeze in large bulk containers versus individual plastic bottles
  • Using biodegradable cleaners to tackle spills and clean bay floors with
  • Properly disposing of potentially hazardous materials such as oil, A/C refrigerant, antifreeze and chemical solvents

All of the advancements mentioned above are not only making auto body shops safer and healthier places to work, but also are protecting the world outside their walls as green practices become more widely accepted.

Finding Green Collision Repair Shops Near You

All of us desire for our families an environment that’s cleaner and healthier.  Auto body shops are now doing their part while helping to save the earth one greener repair process at a time.  For a list of green collision repair shops in your area, search your zip code on: now.

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3 Winter Driving Tips to Keep You Safe - Carwise Blog

3 Winter Driving Tips to Keep You Safe

Driving can be dangerous when wintertime rolls around, starting with the bad weather and nasty road conditions.  Other danger factors include more hours of darkness, mechanical failures owing to cold and driver fatigue.  All can exacerbate your odds of experiencing an accident.  Here are 3 safety tips for winter driving:

Winter Driving Tip #1: Visibility Works Both Ways

In addition to there being fewer daylight hours in winter, other reduced visibility factors include snow, rain and sleet.  It’s also true that many drivers simply can’t see as well at night.  With those in mind, here are some actions you can take to make your journey safer:

  • Use your headlights at all times, not just for low light situations.
  • Double your normal vehicle following interval in poor visibility and on wet pavement.
  • Install new wiper blades.
  • Clean off your windows, head and taillights thoroughly when it snows.

A good rule of thumb is: If you can’t see the other driver they probably can’t see you!

Winter Driving Tip #2: Get a Vehicle Checkup

Before winter, have your car thoroughly inspected by a mechanic, especially if you live in regions prone to cold, snow and ice.  They should check the following on your vehicle:

  • Battery
  • Tires and tread wear
  • Antifreeze level, integrity and radiator hoses
  • Heating system
  • Exhaust system for leaks

Neglecting a preventative checkup leaves you open to mechanical failures, which could strand you by the roadside. If this occurs during bad winter weather conditions, your odds for a roadside crash increase.  It’s also prudent to carry a winter emergency kit in your car.

Winter Driving Tip #3: Stay Awake at the Wheel

Cold weather, illnesses and reduced sunlight means that many people are less active in the winter months.  Inactivity promotes drowsiness which, when combined with poor wintertime driving conditions, greatly increases your collision odds.

The holiday season can be a stressful time. Often, that stress contributes to slower reaction times behind the wheel, lack of concentration, or even nodding off.  In an effort to stay alert while on the road and especially on those long holiday trips, get plenty of sleep, increase your caffeine intake, and keep your mind stimulated with conversation and noise.  Crack the window a bit if it’s cold outside so that the frosty air can keep you alert and awake.

If Winter Accidents Happen, Help is Nearby

Even if you implement these winter safe driving tips,  getting in an accident is still an unfortunate possibility.  If that happens, take heart in knowing that there are a number of top-quality auto body repair shops near you  that can get you back on the road quickly, reliably and affordably.  For a list of collision repair professionals in your area and consumer reviews, just enter your zip code here:

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Computer Aided Auto Body Repair

Computer-Aided Auto Body Repair Enhancements

As Computer-Aided Design (CAD) has made automobiles more innovative, collision repair shops have also embraced computerized auto body repair techniques that result in higher-quality outcomes for your vehicle.  From minor dent removals to major auto repair jobs like paint matching, frame straightening and alignments, computer-enhanced auto body improvements are leading the way.  Here are some computerized repair approaches to expect when you take your car into a local collision repair shop.

Computerized Collision Repair Estimates

The first step in any auto body repair process is to have your vehicle inspected for damage, and an estimate generated.  Computers have streamlined that entire process.  Computer-aided estimates save time, as the auto body shop estimator can quickly determine replacement part availability, communicate with insurance adjusters and calculate the total repair costs involved.  Remote estimates at your home or business can now be conducted using mobile computer technology, saving you time.  In the end, estimate processes that used to take hours now can be more accurately completed in minutes.

Computerized Auto Body Paint Matching

In the past, it was nearly impossible for technicians at an auto body shop to exactly match your car’s factory paint.  Not any longer, as computer-aided paint matching technology has changed collision repair for the better.  These computer-directed advancements now allow body shops to perfectly match the exact shade, flake, tint and finish of your vehicle’s original paint job.  As a result, it’s now very hard to notice where your car was damaged in the first place.

Computerized Vehicle Frame Straightening

When you’re involved in a more serious accident, there will probably be structural damage incurred to the suspension and vehicle’s frame.  Frame straightening is another area where computers are now being employed by technicians to ensure precision and safety in the end.  Restoring bent frames to the original manufacturing specifications was nearly unthinkable in the past, but thanks to computerized frame straightening advancements this has become a reality.

Computerized Auto Alignments

If your vehicle’s frame and/or suspension have been damaged in a collision, it will be improperly

aligned afterwards.  This will cause problems when you’re driving your car, while negatively affecting handling, lead to uneven tire wear and reduce ride comfort.  New computerized vehicle alignment technologies allow the technicians to precisely align your auto to a state of perfect balance.  In the end, this will provide you with a safer and more comfortable driving experience.

Computerized Auto Body Repair Improves Results

When your vehicle needs reliable collision repairs, it’s good to know that computerized auto body innovations are improving outcomes while also saving time and money.  Visit today to locate a collision repair shop near you that utilizes the latest computer-aided auto body repair methods.

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Windshield Crack Repair and Replacement

A crack in your windshield or any window in your car can be extremely frustrating, as it is not a problem you can avoid fixing right away.  Many small cracks in vehicle windows can easily grow into large, unrepairable cracks very quickly if not repaired quickly and properly.   If you do have a small crack, or a crack that is less than 6 inches in length, it is likely you will not need to get a full windshield replacement.  Many collision repair shops offer glass repair services and will be able to assess the crack damage to your window or windshield to quickly determine if it will require repair or total replacement.   There are many at home auto glass repair options, as well, if you fancy yourself to be handy with repairs.  It is recommended that you use these kits on very minor cracks that are not deep in order to ensure complete repair.

Windshield glass repair is a fairly simple process.  The collision repair shop technician will first assess the total crack damage in the glass, taking into account the age of the windshield, depth, and length of the crack, and placement.  Many times, if the damage is in the line of sight of the driver shops will recommend that a full replacement take place.  Likewise if a crack is deep enough to penetrate the clear layer of plastic that prevents windshield glass from shattering.  If they determine that the windshield can be repaired, they will clean the surface entirely before applying a sturdy glue that will dry clear.   If done properly, windshield crack repair is a safe and permanent solution to a damaged piece of glass.

Consumers will also be happy to know that windshield glass repair is an affordable option.  Most times, full auto glass replacement is also not an extremely pricey fix, either.  Search today to find a collision repair shop near you that can perform auto glass replacement and repair.

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When to Consider Paintless Dent Repair

Paintless Dent Repair is a popular and usually more cost-effective alternative to full replacement repairs at auto body shops.  Paintless dent repair, or PDR, is a technique used to remove minor dents and dings from car panels, doors, and roofs while leaving the original paint intact.   To do this, technicians will access the back side of the damaged panel and then massage and shrink the dent with unique and specialized rods and tools.  Eliminating the time spent on ordering replacement parts, PDR is faster than conventional repairs and does not use traditional auto body methods like sanding, body fillers in order to maintain your car’s original finish.

Are you unsure if paintless dent repair is an option for you?  

Dents in areas that suffered paint damage or, similarly, dents that have caused your vehicle’s paint to chip or crack are not eligible for paintless dent repair.  It is possible that the process could still be completed, but the cost benefit of PDR may be nominal with the added expense of paint repair.  These are important questions to ask a technician during your estimating process, as it can vary per repair. This method tends to work best when the affected area is on an original panel (has not been previously replaced), when the damage is not near the edge of a panel, and on newer cars, typically with model years of 1990 or later.

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Book an appointment online using Carwise

As many as 35% of online appointments are now made online after hours.  This is why we have updated to include appointment booking, allowing you to complete the entire process of finding and making an appointment with a body shop in your area in one place.  All open appointment slots at participating repair facilities will show up directly within the search results, so you can easily find both a shop and appointment time that work best for you, no need to pick up the phone or wait on hold with the shop.

Online booking gives you the flexibility to make an appointment online at the shop you choose, at any time of day.  Plus, all appointment slots are updated in real-time, providing a smooth end-to-end experience for you.

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