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How to Prepare for Winter Driving and Stay Safe on the Roads

Winter is arriving quickly this year! Road have already been covered in snow or ice from overnight temperatures that drop below freezing. It’s always good to review good habits for winter driving to keep you and your family safe on the roads this winter.

Dress for the Weather

When the temperature drops, it can be dangerous to stay outside too long. Whether you’re just running to the shop or you’re on a road trip, always dress for the possibility that you’ll run out of gas and have to walk to get a refill.

Take Time to Warm Up

You’re not the only one suffering in cold temperatures! Take care of your car and always let it run for a few minutes to warm up before you drive.

Update your Emergency Kit

Freshen up your regulars, like spare clothes, your first aid kit, water bottles, and non-perishable foods.

Add winter specifics like a warm blanket, an ice scraper, salt, cat litter, and a shovel.

Leave more Space

Keep an eye out for ice on the road, especially on bridges and wide-open spaces. Black ice doesn’t discriminate and is especially dangerous when you’re changing speed or direction, whether there’s a bend in the road or you’re braking at a light.

Always leave more space between you and the cars around you when icy roads are a possibility!

Check your Braking

During the winter when roads can be slick, it’s important to brake correctly.

Most new cars (those less than 20 years old) have ABS brakes that are designed for slick roads. If your car has ABS braking, don’t pump the brakes on ice – your car will do it for you.

If you don’t have ABS brakes, don’t slam on the brakes – instead make sure to pump them!

Top up Your Fluids

Low temperatures keep everything in your car much more dense than usual, which makes levels of everything, from fuel to antifreeze, a little lower.

To keep your lines from freezing and your levels correct, keep your gas at least ¼ full. Check your antifreeze and don’t fill it with water, which does freeze at 32F.

Keep an Eye on your Tires

Liquids aren’t the only thing that gets denser at lower temperatures. Check your tire pressure especially when the temperature drops and watch out for flat tires.

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Your Rights as a Car Repair Consumer

There are certain topics that every car owner should know when having their vehicle repaired. Taking your car to the repair shop isn’t generally something people are familiar with (because hopefully it doesn’t happen all that often!) But, if you are in an accident, it’s important that you know your rights as a consumer.

These consumer rights can help you ensure that your car is repaired correctly, safely, quickly, and within your budget.

You have the right to choose your own repair shop.

In most cases, when your car is in an accident, you can choose the shop you want to repair it. Ask your friends, have a quick Google, and look for local shops!

You can ask your insurance company for suggestions but if they’re telling you that you only have a few options, don’t believe them. This is called steering and in most states, it’s illegal.

You have the right to choose your repair parts.

If parts of your car need to be replaced, you can have a say in which parts are used!

Usually, you can choose from three kinds of parts: OEM, non-OEM, or recycled parts. However, depending on your insurance policy, only certain kinds of parts may be covered. (This doesn’t mean that’s your only option!) Each kind of part has unique benefits and costs so if you’re not sure, ask your repair tech or do a little research.

In many states, if a shop is going to use anything other than OEM parts, they’ll need to notify you. To be proactive, ask your repair shop before the repair.

You have the right to a safely and correctly repaired car.

When you take your vehicle to be repaired, you are paying for a service and you can rightfully expect that your vehicle will be repaired correctly and when repairs are completed, it will be returned to you in a safe condition for driving.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you understand how your car is repaired, what is being repaired, what is being replaced, and what to expect. You can ask about your technicians and their qualifications or experience, what they’re doing and why, and what your options are.

Get involved!

The first step in successful collision repair is knowing your rights. The next step is to get involved! When you’re choosing your repair shop, don’t be afraid to ask questions. A great repair shop will answer them and help you understand.

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Your Guide to Aftermarket Auto Parts

If you have to have parts replaced when your car is repaired, it’s likely you’ll have a choice of parts: OEM, aftermarket, or salvaged.

You may have heard the general difference: OEM is the exact part your car had when it was new, aftermarket parts are like off-brand replacement parts, and salvaged or recycled parts have been used on another car.

In general, that’s true. But there is a little more to aftermarket parts than meets the eye.

There are other names for aftermarket parts.

You might hear aftermarket parts referred to as non-OEM parts, generic parts, or competitive replacement parts.

Sometimes aftermarket parts are the best option.

Just because they’re not made by the original parts manufacturer doesn’t mean aftermarket parts aren’t high quality.

Sometimes, they may be made of higher quality materials or included added technology that the original parts didn’t include. Sometimes, they look the same but fit your budget better simply because they are made by a different manufacturer.

Some of the major benefits of aftermarket parts include:

● Non-OEM parts are generally less expensive,
● They’re often more readily available,
● Aftermarket parts generally have great warranties.

Aftermarket parts can come with a warranty.

If you’re worried about the warranty on your vehicle, check with your warranty provider. Sometimes, aftermarket parts come with their own warranty that surpasses your original warranty! Each part is different so always ask.

You can find certified aftermarket parts.

If you’re wondering about the quality about aftermarket parts, look for a certification. CAPA and NSF International are two reliable certifications you can check for.

You may have to ask about the parts used on your car.

If you want to decide whether your car is repaired with OEM or aftermarket parts, ASK YOUR REPAIR SHOP. In some states, insurance companies can choose for you without your consent. In other states you have to be notified or approve the parts used on your car.

It’s not uncommon to use aftermarket parts and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, as a vehicle owner, it’s in your best interest to know what’s going on with your car.

If your have questions, as your repair technician.

If you’re not sure about what’s going on with your car, ask! A great repair shop will help you understand and make an educated decision about your auto repair.

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Collision Repair Myths

The Truth About These 5 Automotive Repair Myths

We truly hope that you never have to deal with a collision repair; accidents can be scary, expensive, and stressful. But, if you are in an accident, we’re here to simplify the process so you’re prepared and you can get your car back to normal as quickly and stress-free as possible.

Let’s uncover some common collision repair myths so you understand the truth behind them.

1. You have to take your car to the repair shop your insurance company chooses.

Actually, your insurance company has no right whatsoever to demand that you use a specific repair shop. You have the right to choose and if your insurance company tells you otherwise, it’s called steering and it’s illegal.

They may make suggestions (you can always ask) but you are under no obligation to listen to your insurance company.

2. Only the dealership can fix your car like new again.

Auto repair and collision repair shops can access repair guides from the automotive manufacturer who made your car and often repair your vehicle just as well in less time or for less money. Some dealerships may have great repair programs, but they can also be really pricey or focus on other aspects of business more than repairs.

3. Your insurance company always covers the cost of every repair.

Depending on your insurance policy, your insurance company may cover all of your repairs, they may cover some, or they may not cover them at all. If you have coverage called “collision coverage” as part of your policy, that’s usually where the details regarding repair of your vehicle are listed. Always ask your insurance company if you’re not sure.

4. You need three estimates before your insurance company will pay.

This is not true at all, one estimate is plenty. However, if you’re shopping around for the right collision repair shop, it might be in your best interest to get multiple estimates. Your insurance company will usually perform their own estimate once you choose a shop.

5. The insurance company’s estimate is always right and they won’t pay a penny more.

Your insurance company might negotiate with the repair shop if they think the estimate is too high; the end goal is to get a safe and affordable repair. However, the insurance company is required to pay according to your policy.

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Safe Driving Tips for a Summer Road Trip

With more people on the roads in the summer, it’s no surprise that car accidents increase during the warmer months too. Summer brings other challenges to drivers too: more road construction, longer days with sleepier drivers, and more drunk driving.

Taking a few minutes to review summer driving safety tips can make a big difference in knowing what to look out for and how to stay safe on the road.

Take Care of your Car

Regular maintenance is important! Keeping your car in tip-top shape helps prevent big things from going wrong whether you’re on your way to the grocery store or driving across the country.

● Check your fluids, including oil, fuel, windshield wiper fluid, and brake fluid.
● Check your tire pressure.
● Check your lights, including headlights, brights, turn signals, and hazards.
● Make sure your windshield wiper blades are in good condition.

Load your car Thoughtfully

Always make sure that children and pets are buckled in tightly and not running around in the car. Not only can they be distracting to the driver if they’re not buckled up, but if you are in an accident, their safety could be at risk. Don’t forget entertainment, water, and healthy snacks for everyone!

When you load your belongings into the back, keep the following in mind:

● Don’t block the driver’s view – this can be dangerous, especially with heavy traffic.
● Distribute the weight evenly to make maneuvering the vehicle easier.
● If you don’t need it, don’t bring it! Extra weight can affect mileage and isn’t good for your car.
● Don’t forget about the roof, especially if you’re entering a parking garage or going under a low bridge!

Take Regular Driving Breaks

If you have more than one driver, take turns driving! Everyone tires of driving after a while, and when we’re fatigued, our reaction times slow and we’re risking the safety of us, our passengers, and others on the road.

Children and pets will likely appreciate a break too! Rest stops along major U.S. highways are perfect for picnics, food, bathroom breaks, and walking.

Anticipate an Accident and be Prepared

If you are in an accident, things will go smoother if you’re prepared. Have an emergency kit for breakdowns and accidents that includes the following:

● Flashlight,
● Water and nonperishable food,
● Spare tire,
● Phone charger,
● Flares, and
● Jumper cables.

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Confused By Insurance Terms?

After you’ve been in an accident, you have a lot going on. The last thing you need when you’re worried about getting your car repaired quickly, safely, and affordably is a bunch of confusing car insurance terms to work through! Check out our guide to auto insurance words you might hear in a collision repair shop.

Act of God

When something out of human control or influence happens (that damages a vehicle) it’s called an Act of God. Things like forest fires, tornadoes and other storms, earthquakes, floods, or a volcanic eruption fall into this category. Acts of God are generally covered under comprehensive coverage, not collision or liability.

Additional Insured or Additional Interest

A person other than the main insured person who is also covered on an insurance policy is an additional insured. For example, if your car is leased, your leasing company is likely an additional insured on your policy.

Carrier

The insurance company, or insurance carrier, is the entity that issues an insurance policy. It’s called a carrier because it carries certain risks in lieu of the main insured person.

Claim

Any request or demand for the carrier to pay according to the insurance policy is called a claim. The person who makes the claim is the claimant.

Coverage

The benefits and protections that are named in an insurance policy constitute the coverage. Each portion of the policy is subject to the terms and conditions of that specific policy, so your coverage may not be the same as your neighbor’s even if you use the same carrier.

No Fault Insurance

Some states require insurance companies to pay losses of their policyholders that are covered in the claims without regard to fault in an accident. This doesn’t mean they have to pay for everything, it just means that the policy kicks in when a covered accident happens and not when fault is determined.

Comparative Negligence

This legal principle is applicable in certain states and means that even when a driver is partly at fault for an accident, they’re still able to make a partial claim. The negligence of each party is compared to that of the other party and the claim depends on the percentage of responsibility.

Contributory Negligence

This legal principle is applicable in certain states and means that a driver who is at fault, even a little bit, is not able to make a claim on their insurance policy.

Deductible

Insurance policies include a deductible, or a set fee that the covered party is responsible to pay toward damages before the insurance can be paid out.

Exclusions

An exclusion is something that is not covered under an insurance policy. It may be a certain event, person, property, situation, or something else. For example, it’s unlikely that damage caused by drag racing is covered under an auto insurance policy, even if an accident occurs.

Loss

This is the amount the insurance company pays out on any given claim.

Steering

If an insurer tries to get a vehicle owner to use a certain repair shop, it’s called steering. Steering is illegal in most states and vehicle owners have the right to choose their own repair shop.

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Caring for Your Car’s New Paint after a Repair

Your car has been to the collision shop, it’s been repaired, made to look new, and you’ve taken it home. If it had a new paint job, your body shop technicians were meticulous in ensuring that the new paint matched the old paint. Paint is tasked with protecting your car from rust, so it’s up to you to keep it in shape.

Look for Flaws

As with any repair, if you notice something isn’t right, say something as soon as possible. This goes for paint too! One of the hardest parts about painting a car after a repair is matching the original paint.

  • Look at the color on a bright sunny day.
  • Check up close and from a distance.
  • Look for hairs, dirt and overspray.
  • The paint should be smooth and even.

Take Extra Care for 30-60 Days

When your car was new, you were probably extra careful with it, protecting its shiny new paint and treating it with some fragility. After a major repair, this is a great way to treat fresh paint! It needs time to cure and harden before it can truly protect your car. While new cars have time in a protected environment before they’re sold, a fresh repair is back out on the road ASAP. Make sure to give your paint a little extra love and care.

The following are some everyday things that can damage your paint.

Dirt Roads & Construction Zones

Loose gravel and dirt is on the road, it’s unavoidable. If you can avoid dirt roads and major construction zones while your paint is fresh, it will go a long way in protecting your paint, which is vulnerable to chips and scrapes from flying debris.

Scraping or Chipping at Snow or Ice

In winter (or long-lasting spring), chipping away at snow and ice on your windshield is necessary. Make sure you’re not scraping it from the paint too!

Splattered Bugs

Splattered bugs on the windshield are an obvious annoyance, but thanks to the acidity of bug splatter (ew!) they’re also damaging to your paint and can become permanently etched into the surface.

Bird Droppings

As gross as it is go find bird poop on your car, the droppings can also be full of acidic berries, hard seeds, and other grainy bits that can dull and scratch the paint on your car.

Tree Sap

Parking under a tree leaves your car vulnerable to more than damage from animals, it might leave your car covered in sap! Sticky and full of chemicals that aren’t meant to interact with car paint, it’s best to find another shady spot to leave your car.

Sunlight

Sunlight can also damage your paint. The UV rays cause paint to dull and fade, just like they can damage your skin.

Commercial Car Washes

Keeping your car clean is an important part of protecting the paint! It’s best to hand-wash new paint in cool water with mild soap with a soft sponge or cloth. Don’t use chemicals, avoid dish or laundry detergent, and make sure your water is clean and not full of dust and pebbles. Avoid leaving it to dry in the sun.

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Do you need a Diagnostic Repair Scan?

So you’ve been in an accident, you’ve gotten estimates, selected your collision repair shop, and you’re ready to have your car back! Your repair technician brought up something called a pre and post collision diagnostic repair scan, but you’re not convinced it’s necessary. So, what do you need to know to make an informed decision?

A diagnostic scan looks for errors in your car’s computer systems.

A diagnostic scan looks at every computer system, sensor, or automatic feature in your car to make sure they’re working right. Today’s vehicles are full of so much technology that they often have hundreds or thousands of computer systems working together to operate things like cruise control, rear backup cameras, blind spot sensors, or lane departure warnings.

Virtually every car produced since 1996 can benefit from a scan.

The mid-90s brought us the first car with computer systems that did not trigger dashboard warning lights. The number of computers in cars today is so much higher than the number of dashboard warning lights – there isn’t room to put that many warning lights in a car.

Today’s computer systems are so diverse, they change so rapidly, and they aren’t standard among different auto manufacturers that there isn’t one scanning system that works for every vehicle. They require wireless access

Your insurance company may not want to pay.

Insurance companies and auto manufacturers are in disagreement over when diagnostic repair scans are necessary. Most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), like Ford, Honda, and GM, have released statements saying that diagnostic scans are necessary for most cars after an accident to ensure passenger safety. Insurance companies want more clarity and more specific guidelines so they aren’t paying for unnecessary scans, or scans that don’t find any errors.

Auto manufacturers release repair guidelines for every car.

Every auto manufacturer (OEM) releases repair procedures for every make and model of every vehicle they produce. Your repair technician should always follow the OEM repair procedures. If these procedures state that a diagnostic scan is necessary, it’s likely for your safety.

If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask your repair technician or your insurance company!

What can you do about diagnostic scans?

You can find many of the official OEM statements regarding diagnostic scans at www.oem1stop.com. If your insurance company states that they won’t pay for a scan and your repair technician says it’s necessary, call your insurance company.

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Guide to Collision Repair Estimates

Following a car accident, the idea of finding the right collision repair shop can seem intimidating and overwhelming. Hopefully it’s a process that you don’t have much experience with (unless you work in the collision repair industry).

Remember that you have the right to select your collision repair shop and nobody, even your insurance company, can force you to use a specific shop. It can help to get a few estimates from different repair shops so you can find the right one for you. The following steps can help you with collision repair estimates.

Research and Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re speaking with representatives at the repair shops you’re considering. One sign of a great repair shop is one that is willing to explain what they do and what you’re paying them for. An estimate might take some time to create, but should include a breakdown of repairs, including the costs for parts and labor.

Consider more than the Total Cost

Remember that parts, labor, and overhead costs can vary from shop to shop. Higher costs do not necessarily mean better repairs or better parts. If you’re looking at shops in the same area and you find one that is a lot higher or lower than the others, ask why. Sometimes, different shops use different kinds of repair parts, and the parts you choose to use can affect the cost just as much as the shop’s location or labor charges.

Shops should always use the OEM repair guidelines, be willing to answer your questions, and have a record of good reviews.

Trust the Experts

While the Internet is a useful tool and it can help you find advice to get a great collision repair estimate, it is not an estimating tool. Every make and model has a specific set of repair procedures created by the manufacturer, and only by following these procedures can an estimate or repair be done correctly. Access to these procedures isn’t free online, so you’ll need to take your car to a repair shop and have it examined by a professional. If possible, take it to more than one so you have something to compare your estimate to.

While your insurance company may have an estimator, they too need to look at your vehicle in order to correctly estimate the cost of repairs. It’s not a process that can be done remotely.

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Vehicle Scans

Your Vehicle’s Computer Systems May Require Diagnostic Scanning

Why? Auto manufacturers require scans of vehicle’s electronic systems in certain situations to ensure they’re calibrated and working properly for passenger safety.

Your auto body repair shop can refer to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) repair procedures to determine whether your vehicle requires pre- and post-repair diagnostic scans.

(Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagen are examples of OEMs. These companies create specific repair procedures for the vehicles they design and produce. Auto repair shops should always follow these instructions.)

What does a ‘Pre- and Post-Repair Diagnostic Scan’ do for you?

Your vehicle is composed of many parts, including computers and electronic systems. Diagnostic scans identify issues in all of your vehicle’s electronic systems. These problems can’t be identified any other way (until they cause serious safety issues).

The pre-repair diagnostic scan identifies all computer systems and diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) that exist after an accident. DTCs show which systems need to be repaired or calibrated. Accident damage, including dents, broken glass, or battery or electrical problems, can cause problems in computer systems that trigger DTCs!

The post-repair diagnostic scan ensures that all the computer systems are working properly after your repair so your car is safe for you to drive. (No DTCs should appear.) Taking your vehicle apart and putting parts back together can trigger DTCs, even if it’s just a bumper or a door handle!

What kinds of computer systems does your car have?

If your car was manufactured after 1996, it has enough computer systems that a diagnostic safety scan can find issues that can’t be found any other way. These computer systems and sensors run through nearly every part of your car, from your windshield and door handles to the inside of your gas tank and your engine.

Think of your fuel tank distance notification, your automatic headlights, your windshield wipers, your rear parking camera, or keyless start or auto-lock features.

Isn’t that why cars have dashboard warning lights?

Scans can identify specific problems in computer systems – warning lights only show that a problem exists. Not every computer system triggers a dashboard warning light.

In 2017, the entry level Honda – the Honda Fit – had up to 500 possible codes that can come up on a scan. The most elite option, like a Honda Pilot, can have 1,000! It’s not possible to have a warning light for every system, and it hasn’t been since before 1996.

Why are we telling you this?

Although these scans are only required for your safety, insurance companies aren’t always willing to pay for them. The decision to scan or not is yours and we want you to make an informed decision.

Will your insurance cover it?

Depending on your policy and your insurance company, diagnostic scans may be covered.

Insurance companies who won’t cover the costs of these scans in any policy are primarily concerned with their business, not your safety. Covering the cost of diagnostic scanning will cost them money and may lead them to increase their prices, which isn’t good for business.
If you believe your insurance company should cover the cost of your diagnostic scans, call them.

For More Information

OEM1Stop.com is a website created by a group of auto manufacturers. It lists their opinions on diagnostic scanning and is available to you and your insurance company.

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