Airbags: we all see the little signs on the steering wheel, the dashboard, or the doors. Thankfully, airbags are a safety feature we’re never without in modern cars. How much do know about airbags?
When an airbag goes off, it can be painful.
Any crash that causes your airbags to go off is likely to be painful, if not from broken glass, loud noises, a sudden tight hug from your seatbelt, then from an airbag blowing up in your face. It can feel like being kicked in the face and chest by a very strong but fluffy bunny.
Airbags are meant to keep you from hitting the hardest parts of your car, like the steering wheel, dashboard, glass windows, or metal doors. But the force of hitting the airbag can cause (less serious) injuries from abrasions to broken bones.
If your airbags deploy, your car may be totalled.
Whether your car is totalled depends on the value of your car and the extent of your insurance policy. However, if your car crashed with enough force to set off the airbags, it’s likely that your car has suffered significant damage. Repairing or replacing just the dashboard and airbags can cost a few thousand dollars.
Airbags may smell smoky but there isn’t necessarily a fire.
Small explosives are used to deploy your airbags quickly. They may leave a smoky smell in the air but that doesn’t mean that your car is on fire. If you’re in an accident, the first few seconds and minutes can be disorienting.
Give yourself a moment and if your car really is on fire, focus on freeing yourself. It may be harder to get out of a car after the airbags are set off for several reasons. The body of your car may have bent, making it difficult (or impossible) to open the doors or windows. Your seatbelt might have locked into position in the accident to prevent you from moving out of your seat, and it may be tight and difficult to release.
Always have your car checked by a professional after a crash.
Fixing or replacing your airbags, or any other safety feature, is tricky business. Your safety depends on it! Whether your airbags were deployed in a crash or not, always have your car, especially airbags and computerized safety features, checked and scanned by a professional to make sure they’re functioning properly and can keep you safe.
Take your foot off the accelerator.
Ideally, your tires will slow down so your car can slow down. That way, you can get control of where you’re headed.
Don’t immediately hit the brakes.
Braking quickly is a good way to start sliding if you’re not already.
Keep your tires spinning freely to help you gain control of your steering.
After you have control of your steering and you’re ready to stop your car, there are two ways you can brake. Today, most cars have ABS brakes, which will safely stop your car on ice if you press firmly on the brake pedal. If your car is older or doesn’t have ABS brakes, it’s important that you gently pump your brake pedal rather than slamming on the brakes to stop your car.
Think before you steer.
If you have a front wheel drive car (most cars today are front wheel drive unless otherwise specified) it’s unlikely that your instinct will be right.
Steer your car in the direction the rear of the vehicle is sliding. Remember that a small slide requires only a small steering motion, while a bigger slide requires a bigger steer.
Don’t steer too far!
If you oversteer and the back of your vehicle swings back the other way, change your steering accordingly until your car straightens out. If you steer the wrong way and allow the car to continue skidding in one direction, it’s likely that your car will spin in a complete circle until it hits something and stops.
Avoid sliding if you can.
The best way to stay safe is to avoid a slide in the first place. If you must drive on icy roads, quality winter tires and driving slower than usual, especially around curves, will keep you safer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
● Water and nonperishable food,
● Spare tire,
● Phone charger,
● Flares, and
● Jumper cables.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the amount the insurance company pays out on any given claim.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.