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Four Common Automotive Collision Repair Insurance Questions

After an auto accident, it is important that you have your vehicle damage professionally repaired by a reputable collision repair shop. However, dealing with the insurance adjusters and finding the answers to your many questions can be overwhelming. This is why we have taken the time to answer some of the most common insurance questions that our clients ask during the collision repair process.

Does the insurance company choose where you should have your vehicle repaired? It is entirely your choice as to where you have your vehicle repaired after an accident. Your insurance company may try to steer you toward a preferred shop in their network, but the choice is up to you. In fact, state law prohibits these “steering” tactics. Don’t feel pressure to work with a collision repair shop simply because your adjuster prefers them. Your vehicle is a big investment and you want to be sure that an experienced and reputable automotive collision repair shop expertly repairs any damage.

Once an insurance company makes an estimate, will I need to pay for any additional damage that is discovered during the repair process? An appraiser is only able to make an estimate for the damage that is visible. Once the vehicle is taken apart for repair, the technician will look for evidence of any further damage. He will inform the insurance company of any additional repairs that must be made. It is not unusual for there to be at least one supplement to the original estimate.

Should I choose the repair shop with the lowest price because insurance is paying? That old phrase, “You get what you pay for” is often the case when it comes to automotive collision repair. Just because a shop offers the lowest price, it does not necessarily mean that it is the best place to have your car repaired. The vehicles of today are quite complex so you want to be sure that you are working with repair technicians that can restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition. This includes repairing the outside appearance as well as the safety equipment and special equipment found on modern vehicles. Your car is a big investment so you want to be sure that you receive the best quality automotive repairs available.

Will my car ever be the same? If you use a reputable collision repair shop, your vehicle should be returned to its pre-accident state. This includes returning the function, safety, performance and appearance of the vehicle to like-new condition. Be sure that your technicians use new, high-quality replacement parts. You should choose a shop that offers comprehensive warranties on all repairs. This is one way to guarantee that the customer is completely satisfied with their repaired vehicle.

Repairing your vehicle after a collision should not be a traumatic experience. Find an auto body shop in your area that is experienced in working with insurance companies. They can guide you through the process so you feel comfortable and secure every step of the way.

Dash Repair – How to Fix a Cracked Padded Dash

Weather change is here and the cracked padded dashes are rolling in. With every weather change I get the phone calls. “My dash is cracked and what can be done to fix it.”

Due to the exposer to old mother nature, these materials become dried out and crack over time leaving you with a crack in your dash. Left unattended this small crack can and will get larger.

There are measures that can be taken to prevent the dash from getting cracked in the first place. Now I know your dash is already cracked and your wanting to know how to fix it, but this will prevent further cracks and keep your car cooler and looking nicer, and well…. for further reference.

One way to prevent this is to use a sunshade. This will not only protect your automotive dash from the sun but also keep your vehicle cooler keeping the plastic pieces cooler and less likely to warp and then crack.

Another way to prevent the materials from drying on your dash is to condition them with a good vinyl conditioner-protectant. Now I know I’ve always said to not put the slimy stuff on your interior pieces and parts … But if your vehicle is exposed to the sun on a constant basis, then I would recommend you use a vinyl conditioner. Now I’m not going to say that any old vinyl conditioner will work, because it won’t. Tire shine is not vinyl conditioner! This is probably one of the biggest mistakes made, and I do a lot of repair because of it. Tire shine contains solvents, which as you know from previous articles, it doesn’t mix well with the water based dyes being used on today’s cars. What it does is lifts the dye from the surface, causing it to peel. So no tire shine…What I recommend to my customers is a product made from a leather conditioning producer that I feel from some of the research I’ve done is safe and should work very well, it’s made by Lexol and it’s called Vinylex. Designed by the guys that really know their stuff when it comes to interior conditioning and protecting.

The last and final tip to keeping your automotive interior, including your dash, looking it’s best and lasting longer is window tint. Now in some states you need to be careful with the tinting laws to make sure you don’t get it too dark, plus you need to think of your safety too. I have tint on our family Tahoe and I kinda wish I would have gone a little lighter, at night it’s really hard to see, my Tahoe stays nice and cool, but it’s a pain in the butt at night. I have to roll the window down sometimes just to see. So keep it light and you will be impressed with the results, plus it looks cool.

Now on with the fix for that crack in your dash.

Depending on where the crack is and how big it is will depend on how to fix it and how expensive the repair will be. If the crack is bigger then 2″-3″ and curled up on the edges, the repair will probably not look that great. There is a limit to the size of crack that can be repaired, too big and it probably won’t hold and will look like crap. If the crack is too big, replace the dash pad, don’t try to fix it. Another thing is location, if the crack is up close to the windshield then it’s almost impossible to do a repair without removing the windshield, which can be costly. So with that said you be the judge.

The first thing I do before I start any repair is to mix my color, this insures that at least the color will be right.

Next I inspect the crack in the dash, if the edges are curled up then you will need to trim that off with a razor blade or Xacto knife. The goal here is to get the area as level as you can. Now when doing so cut at a 45 degree angle and don’t bring the ends to a point, what I mean by this is trim all the way around the crack rounding off the ends of the crack, this will insure that the crack will stop and not crack further after your repair.

Of course your next step is prepping the repair area, use your prep solution with a scotch brite pad and clean the area thoroughly. You might need to clean the entire dash depending on where and how large the crack is.

Now it’s time to determine what fix you going to use.

If the crack is smaller then an 1/2″ I usually grab the super glue and do a super glue repair. I do this by spreading the glue in the crack then sanding it smooth with a 240 grit sandpaper, texture with your water based spray grain, then dye.

But there are times when your vinyl repair compound will need to be used, after all this is vinyl. The low cure usually works best because high heat tends to warp the repair area. This is where your patience comes in when doing your repairs. Thin layers of compound work best, curing and dying between coats until the area is level and smooth. You can texture while layering your compound with your grain pads. One little trick I use to help level the repair when using a grain pad is a little rubber squeegee about 3″x5″, it’s what body shops use to squeegee the water off the painted surface when they wet sand. This little thing works great, when you use your hand to imprint your grain into your repair, your hand kinda molds around the area and doesn’t leave a level area but with the rubber squeegee it gives you a little more backing when you go to imprint. Now graining your repair can be tricky, the low cure compound doesn’t grain that well, but if all else fails make sure the repair is level, this is your best hide. If that is achieved then texture with your spray grain.

One last trick up my sleeve is the use of a great product from Urethane Supply Co. This is a two part epoxy like substance that is specifically designed for padded dashes and the name says it all, Padded Dash Filler.
This stuff is the bomb, when it comes to dash repair. Mixes like Bondo and is even applied like bondo, but its flexible. It’s just what the doctor ordered when it comes to dash repair. If the crack is larger then 1″ this is the stuff to use.

Now this product will require you to trim the area and then sand around the area about 1″ to 2″ out with a heavier grit sandpaper like a 180 grit, this gives it something to bite too. Trim down into the foam a little to, so that you make like a little groove for the compound to lay in.

Mix your compound on a small piece of tile, I like using small tile pieces, they clean up easily and are easier to hold when mixing and applying. Now when you get the product they send you the red catalyst, try the blue, it seems to set up a little quicker. The blue you can get at any automotive parts shop. But the red works just as good just takes it a little longer, time is money in my business.

Apply your compound liberally over the repair area, don’t worry about getting your first coat really smooth, all you need is to get it covered, you’ll be sanding it smooth later. Let it set up for a while, depending on the weather will depend on how long this stuff takes. You can speed it up a little with a heat gun but don’t melt it just give it a little boost.

Once hardened start sanding, I usually start with a 180 grit to knock off the big chunks then progressively move my way up to a finer grit like 240 and then to 400.

One coat won’t be sufficient, I promise, this is another layer thing. Sanding between coats. Each coat you apply you will need to make smoother. Again what your trying to achieve is a smooth level repair.

After all is smooth and level, grain with a spray grain then dye.

As far as texture goes, I use two types of spray grain. One is a water based spray grain and the other is Sems Texture Coat. In fact the Sems Texture Coat almost matches the some of the Pontiac dashes to a tee. Now the Sems Texture coat is a solvent based, but I haven’t had a problem with it peeling up against the water based dyes on the dash, so kudos to Sems.

One other trick I have found with the the Sems Texture Coat is after sprayed if you let it flash out a little but not dry completely, you can take your grain pad and imprint your grain into the texture coat, pretty cool huh.

Dash repair is an art and a craft, just like all automotive interior repairs. If the steps are followed right and patience is used in your repairs you success will be good.

Hope this helps in your dash repair adventure. One thing to always keep in mind is to keep your repair as level as possible, this is your best hide.

Tips For Effective Automotive Transmission Repair

A car like any other machine is prone to mechanical failures or problems. Transmission problems are the major encountered car problems and thus automobile transmission repair becomes necessary, once such problems come into existence. The automotive transmission repair system of a car is highly complex since there is always a chance of higher glitches and troubles. Thus, it is always recommended to take the help of a professional while doing auto transmission repair of car, but some basic and good tips can help one to resolve the preliminary issues.

The key elements responsible for transmission problems in vehicle are the bell housing, transmission fluid, filters and gears. The result is that either automobile does not move at all or it does not move smoothly. Hence, one must do the simple diagnosis of the automobile to find out the exact problem. Some of the major transmission problems in cars are:

• Transmission Fluid Leak
Most of the trouble with a gearbox is caused by fluid related problems. Transmission fluid leak is caused due to several reasons like broken seal, loosening of the filler tube, defective pan gasket and poor installation that can result in damage to the car system. Since, the transmission system is exposed to very high temperatures, it can experience a lot of wear and tear, and there is an eventual break down which can cause the fluid to leak. The transmission fluid change with use of sealant at broken parts keep the system trouble-free and enable the car machinery to work efficiently without any damage.

• Transmission Slipping
Transmission Slipping is the second most commonly encountered car transmission problem. It is noticed that nine out of ten times the trouble arises due to irregular increase in engine RPM (Revolution Per Minute), sudden down-shifting (i.e. vehicle at high-speed abruptly shifted to lower gear without changing the speed) and delayed in vehicle`s acceleration. Thus, one experiences unusual jerking movements in automobile while changing gears. The best alternative to sort out such problems is to regularly check the transmission fluid levels and by repairing or replacing the broken vacuum lines of the engine.

• Overheating
Overheating is another major problem that should be avoided to counter the transmission problems in cars and other similar automobiles. Continuous stop and go in heavy traffic or carrying heavy weight in the vehicle triggers the temperature of the engine, causing blockage in the fluid cooler lines. Moreover, it may even bend the metal parts and hardens the rubber seals of the transmission system, creating fluid leaks. Thus, appropriate measures should be taken to overcome the overheating of engines.

Most of the automotive transmission shop in Calgary, Canada, provides the complete auto transmission kits at affordable prices to diagnose and resolve the common vehicle transmission issues. Since, any kind of automotive transmission repair cost is highly expensive, so one should use these kits to sort out the problem.

Do Your Own Small Automotive Electrical Repairs

At the age of plus minus 13, I came across a small, old motorcycle and decided to revamp it all on my own. One electrical mistake made by me, nearly caused that bike to burn to the ground. As it was burning, I tried to pull the burning wires off. Those burning wires caused serious damages and burns to my hands that day.

Which resulted in the project being delayed while my hands were healing. Realizing I need to get help from my older brother as he had more electrical knowledge than I had. That pain and damages did not cause me not to become an auto electrician in later years, I am possessing an auto electrical repair shop for the past 20 years.

This is not to scare you not to do your own small electrical repairs on your vehicle yourself. However, I like to give some advice that the same things do not happen to you. If you have any knowledge about electrical and a few elementary tools, you can tackle small electrical defects on your car.

First you have to become an electrical diagram for your car, and you must make sure it is the right one for your cars model and make

Where to find a wiring diagram for your car

· Go online and see if you can find a free download of the diagram you need diagram.

· There are complete workshop manuals for sale online.

· If you have a friend with the same make and model find out if he haven’t got a manual, then you can make copies.

· If you know somebody that is working at a dealership, you may ask him but take note dealerships normally have an agreement with their employees, about sharing info to any customer.

Where to buy the basic tools

· Start with your local spares shop, normally they have some tools for sale.

· If you want to buy quality tools, you will need to find a shop that specializes just in tools.

· The bigger convenient shops do normally keep the basic tools in stock

Just a word of caution if want to buy a test light, make sure you do become one that is fitted with L.E.D’s. As a normal test light with a globe can cause damages to modern cars that are equipped with electronic systems.

For any small automotive electrical defect on your car, you must use your diagram to find all the fuse boxes in your car. All modern cars do have multiple fuse boxes.

The way to go for you as a novice after you has found all the fuse boxes. Then by using your test light and touching the fuses, the test light must illuminate on both ends of the fuses. If the test light only illuminates on the one side of the fuse this means that the fuse is blown.

Then you must make sure you replace that blown fuse with an appropriate amperage fuse. Replacing that blown fuse may solve your problem. If your actions do not solve the problem, you can decide to call on an auto electrician.

If that fuse you have replaced keeps on blowing there is a short on the car, and your problem is more serious than you thought. Never replace a blown fuse with a fuse that has a higher amperage rate than the one you have removed.

Because that is what caused my bike to burn and can cause your car to burn as well.

Rocco van Rooyen is an Author on Automotive Solutions. As an Entrepreneur running his own automotive repair shop for the past twenty years and Author on the subject, he is at the forefront to provide solutions to all automotive related problems.