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Parts are parts, right?

Apr 12, 2017

Many years ago, Wendy’s made a commercial that everyone at the time knew by heart. It was about their chicken sandwich. The premise of the commercial was that they sold 100% chicken breast in their sandwiches, and alluded to their competitors that use 100% chicken, but use other “parts” of the chicken in their sandwiches. The commercials message was about “parts are parts”. You can view the Youtube video here. So this months blog is about, you guessed it, parts. Not parts used in chicken sandwiches but rather parts used in the collision repairs to your vehicle.

We have been caught in the middle multiple times when a vehicle owner was told by the insurance company they were getting “new” parts, or “replacement” parts to repair their vehicle. Most vehicle owners have visions in their minds that this means new “Original Equipment” parts that come from the manufacturer of their vehicle. Although the insurance company is right in that they are getting new or replacement parts, it could be said that they are misleading the consumer due to the multiple categories of new and replacement parts. Yes, parts are parts, but there are different kind of parts just as in the Wendy’s commercial. Let me explain.

Parts Categories

We need to break down the parts categories that will likely play a role in the repairs to your vehicle.

Here are a few basic definitions.

OE: This stands for Original Equipment which means these parts are made for your vehicle by the car manufacturer or their vendor according to the original equipment manufacturer’s specifications. These parts are purchased at the dealer that sells the new vehicles. Pretty simple.

Aftermarket: These are “new” parts but are not made by the manufacturer of your vehicle. They are made by a third party based on information they obtain about OE parts, but not necessarily to the manufacturers specifications. Mostly these parts are made overseas and are cheaper in price. This is very attractive to insurance companies as they are always looking for ways to lower their loss exposure.

Opt OE: This is where it gets even more confusing. No one really has a true definition for Opt OE. These parts are sold through a vendor, but not a dealer franchise. These are “left over” parts or may have been rejected by the actual assembly line at the manufacturing plant. Most have defects somewhere and we refer to them as factory seconds. These parts would be equivalent to what they sell at “factory outlet” stores. These are again cheaper than OE.

This ends the definitions of “new” parts, but wait there are more:

Salvage: Sometimes referred to as “used”,  LKQ (like kind and quality) or recycled. These parts come from a salvage yard and are most likely taken from a “totaled” vehicle due to accident, flooding or storm damage. These parts are supposed to be undamaged and are supposed to be equal to the ones that were removed from your damaged vehicle.

Remanufactured: These are damaged parts that have been removed from a damaged vehicle and have been repaired and refitted with some replacement components.

These are the categories of replacement parts. I am not here to argue the relevance of these types of parts or who needs to pay for what, but rather to inform you about the different types of replacement parts. So, as you can see, parts are NOT parts. There is a time and place for each one of these categories of parts. You as a consumer need to choose which parts suit your situation. You have the right to request the types of parts you want replaced on your vehicle, but the insurance company has the right to choose which parts they are willing to pay for. They would expect you to pay the difference in price. Their choice will always be the cheapest alternative. We as body shops cannot force an insurance company to pay for something that they are unwilling to pay for. Insurance companies are obligated to you, the vehicle owner, and not the repair facility.

This blog is to inform you of all the different types of parts available for your repairs, but the choice is yours!

How to make a winter survival kit for your car

Nov 10, 2016

Winter Car Survival Kit

Although we have been enjoying some beautiful fall weather, winter is just around the corner. We know it is coming and you should be prepared for it.  Now is the time that we should be thinking about driving in the winter with snow and ice. We at Auto Works Collision Center want to keep your family safe while driving this winter, and have come up with some tips as well as emergency kit ideas. Before hitting the road you can call 511 for Kansas road condition reports.

How to Make a Winter Survival Kit

Everyone should carry a Winter Survival Kit in their car. In an emergency, it could save your life and the lives of  your passengers. Here is what you need:

  1. a shovel
  2. windshield scraper and or with a small broom
  3. flashlight and extra batteries
  4. battery powered radio
  5. water (enough for a few days and enough for your passengers)
  6. non perishable snacks including energy bars, candy bars
  7. matches and small candle
  8. extra clothes, including hats, socks, mittens or gloves and shoes
  9. First aid kit
  10. a multi tool such as a Leatherman
  11. any medication that you take regularly
  12. blankets or sleeping bag
  13. tow chains or strap
  14. road salt, sand or cat litter for traction
  15. battery booster cables
  16. emergency flares and reflectors
  17. distress flag and whistle to attract attention
  18. cell phone adapter to plug into auxiliary port

You can keep all of this in a plastic tote.  Additionally, some things to remember about your new kit are to keep the flashlight batteries separate from flashlight so they don’t accidentally run down. Keep this kit in the passenger compartment while driving for access in case your trunk freezes shut or is jammed.

If you do get stranded

If you do get stranded, if possible, call 911 on your cell phone. Provide your location, condition of everyone in the vehicle and the problem you are experiencing.

Follow instructions the dispatchers give you. Stay with your vehicle! If you must leave your vehicle, write down your name, address, phone number and destination and leave on dash or front seat (anywhere someone can find it).

Make sure your vehicle is prepared: Make sure you keep the tank full. Stop and refill if you get below one half of a tank.

Be easy to find: Tell someone where you are going and the route you will take.

If you get stuck: Tie the distress flag to your antenna or hang it in your window. At night, keep your dome light on. Rescue crews can see a small glow at a distance. To reduce battery drain, use emergency flashers only if you hear approaching vehicles. If your with someone else, make sure at least one person is awake and keeping watch for help at all times.

Stay in your vehicle: Walking in a storm can be very dangerous. You might become lost or exhausted. Your vehicle is a good shelter.

Avoid Overexertion: Shoveling snow or pushing your car takes a lot of effort in storm conditions. Don’t risk a heart attack or injury. That work can also make you hot and sweaty. Wet clothing losses insulation value, making you susceptible to hypothermia.

Fresh Air: Its better to be cold and awake than comfortably warm and sleepy. Snow can plug your vehicle’s exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your car. Only run the engine for 10 minutes an hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow and debris. Keep a window open a crack while running the engine is also a good idea.

Don’t expect to be comfortable: You want to survive until you’re found!

7 Tips for Safe Driving During “Deer Season”

Oct 07, 2016

Deer Crossing Sign

Although the first of October is the official start of deer hunting season, it is not the only deer season that starts.  What I am referring to is the first part of October also brings the season of more automobile/deer collisions. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 1.6 million vehicle/deer collisions occur each year, resulting in 200 fatalities, tens of thousands of injuries and over $3.6 billion in vehicle damage. Even though auto/deer collisions happen all year long, it happens more during this time of year. This time of year has deer moving for many different reasons. When deer move around more, there are more chances for these types of collisions. Some of the reasons that deer move more at this time of year are:

1. More crops are being harvested. This time of year the animals sometimes have to travel farther for food sources.

2. There is less cover. When crops are harvested, there is less cover  for them to hide and loaf in. Deer travel to find a place they feel safe in and no predators can see them.

3. The days are shorter. This coincides with the movement of deer. They travel more at dawn and dusk.

4. Our paths can cross. The deer movement at dawn and dusk also coincides with our going to work or school around the same time.  We go to work around the time the sun rises and we go home from work around the time the sun sets. The chances of these types of collisions are greater because we are both moving around the same times.

5. Hunting season starts. Hunters can cause deer to move around to places they normally do not go. They feel the need to escape the hunting pressure.

6. Mating season. One of the biggest reasons though,  is mating season will begin soon. Deer generally mate towards the end of October through the month of November. This is when we see the most auto/deer collisions. The male deer are searching for a mate and pay little if any attention to their surroundings. They are looking for one thing, females. They will travel as far as they have to to find these females.

Now that we have pointed out some of the reasons that there are more deer collisions at this time of year, lets see if we can give you some advice on how to limit your chances of this unfortunate type of accident happening to you.

1. Limit your travels as much as you can during the dawn  and dusk times.  These times with the lower light levels can decrease your vision and reaction times. We may have to travel to work and school, but if you can avoid these times, do so.

2. Drive with your headlamps on high beam. As we just stated, the low light conditions make it hard to see them. Increased lighting will help you see better and at greater distances, however be safe and courteous and dim for oncoming traffic.

3. Pay attention to deer crossing signs. Most states post deer crossing signs in areas that historically have a higher instance of auto/deer collisions. When you  see these signs, SLOW DOWN.

4. Watch out for the rest of them! Deer are generally herd animals and travel in packs. They rarely travel alone. If you see one cross the road in front of you, watch for their buddy’s.

5. Travel in the center lane.  When the road is four lane and when the traffic permits, traveling in the center lane gives you an additional split second to react.

6. Stay on track. If you see a deer, brake firmly and calmly, and stay in your lane. Swerving could make you lose control of your vehicle and turn a bad situation into something much, much worse. Deer are unpredictable and you could swerve directly into their changed path.

7. WEAR YOUR SEATBELT!!! Out of all of this advice, this is the biggest one that could save your life.

So we need to be hyper vigilant looking for deer, especially at this time of year. If the unfortunate happens, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Pull off to the side of the road as soon as it is safe.

2. Turn your hazard lights on.

3. Call authorities and notify them if anyone is injured or you have damage to your vehicle.

4. Do not approach the animal. You could be injured if the animal is wounded. Wounded animals are VERY dangerous. Let the authorities know if the animal is still in the roadway, making for a dangerous situation for other drivers.

5. Contact your insurance company and start your claims process.

Although this is a small list of tips, we hope that you keep in mind that “deer season” is starting. Auto Works Collision Center wants to keep our customers and their families safe. Please share with friends and family.

8 Do’s for Back to School Car Care

Aug 29, 2016

Back to School Car Care

It’s that time of year again, kids are going back to school. Some parents are sad that the “little one” is starting a new venture in life and going off to college. Some parents are overjoyed and kicking back knowing that they are getting 9 months of their lives back (if you have had a college student coming home for the summer, you know what I mean). Which ever applies to you, the fact remains that if your students are driving, there are some extra things that should be payed attention to. Although we tend to focus on school supplies, books, dorm room amenities, meal plans etc.; one thing we should not forget is our kids’ vehicles. Whether your child is going off to college in a different town/state or whether they are high school students driving back and forth to school, we need to make sure that their vehicles are safe and reliable transportation, as we really do want them to be able to come back home. If we do these things together with our students, it will give them an idea of what to keep an eye on and teach them when they have an issue that needs addressed.

1. Check all exterior lamps and wipers to ensure they are working properly, especially the headlamps.

If they are cloudy, most of the time they can be restored to almost new. There are products out there you can try on your own or we can professionally repair them. The main thing is that we want our kids to have good visibility, not only for them, but so other drivers can see them! If the wiper blades are worn, replace them. You can test them by using wiper fluid and see how they operate.

2. Check the brakes at least annually.

If your student is like mine were, we know the car can “go” but we want them to be able to stop also! You may need a professional to inspect them.

3. Check tires for under inflation and excessive wear.

To check them use a penny and insert it into the tread with Abe’s head inserting first, if you can see all of his head, it is time to replace! You may also want to make sure your student knows how to change a flat tire before it becomes a necessity.

4. Check all fluid levels and inspect for leaks under the vehicle.

There are many different fluid colors and depending on what color the leaking fluid is it can help determine what component is leaking and requires your attention.

5. Check the battery.

If it is old, replace it. You can also go to any auto parts store and they can check it for you. But remember, summer and winter are the hardest on car batteries.

6. Find a trusted mechanic.

If you student is going to school out of town, be proactive and find a trusted mechanic near their campus. Believe me, it is difficult to diagnose problems and repair a vehicle over long distances or over the phone ( I learned from personal experience!). Additionally, it would be wise to include a tire shop just for good measure. Place these numbers in their cell phones for emergencies.

7. Make an emergency roadside kit for their car.

This should include a flashlight with fresh batteries, jumper cables, hazard signs, first aid kit, kitty litter for traction on ice and snow and a small shovel. These items can be rounded up and kept is a small plastic tote. There are kits that you can purchase at any car part store or local chain stores.

8. And as a reminder from your friends at Auto Works Collision Center, please, please, please buckle up!!!

This can not be hammered home enough. Although they are starting a new chapter in their lives, we still want them to come home!!

If this seems overwhelming you can always get a professional to check these things out. However, it is helpful to get your student involved with these maintenance issues. It will teach them what to keep an eye on, and give you peace of mind that they can handle what life throws at them

What You Should Know About a “Totaled” Vehicle

May 30, 2016

Is my car a total loss?

We hear quite often from our customers that “the insurance company totaled my car, but it doesn’t look that bad and I am still driving it.” So today we are going to discuss when and why an insurance company deems a vehicle a total loss. “Total Loss” does not necessarily have anything to do with how bad a collision damaged car looks, rather more times than not it boils down to economics. What I mean by economics is, does the repair cost of the vehicle exceed the value of the vehicle. An example of this is if your vehicle is worth $4000.00 and the repair cost are estimated at $5000.00 then your vehicle would be a definite total loss. Every now and then an insurance company will deem a vehicle a total loss due to structural damage, flood damage or other circumstances, but most of the time it is pure economics. The laws in the State of Kansas cannot force an insurance company to spend more money on repairs than what the vehicle is worth. As a matter of fact, the laws in the State of Kansas will force an insurance company deem a vehicle a total loss when damages exceed 75% of the value of the vehicle on vehicles that are 5 years old or newer. Older vehicles do not apply to this law, but most insurance companies still use the 75% rule on most of the claims. With that being said, an insurance company can deem a vehicle a total loss on a lesser percentage.

So, what happens next?

When an insurance company determines that a vehicle is a total loss, they owe you the current value of the vehicle along with title fees, tag fees and sales taxes. The vehicle can be valued in many ways, but the value is definitely negotiable. There is nothing that is etched in stone as to say your vehicle is worth “X” amount of dollars. There are several factors that determine value. Examples are mileage, options or packages and condition. Mileage is probably the biggest factor as a vehicle with above average miles is worth less than a vehicle with minimal mileage. The same applies with the condition of the vehicle. We advise our customers that when an insurance company starts talking about totaling your vehicle, get your own evaluation. There are again, many ways to value a vehicle. You can do comparison values, meaning that you find a similar vehicle with similar mileage, options and condition and use that as a value. You can use some online services such as National Auto Dealers Association or NADA, Kelly Blue Book or others. Whichever valuation that you use, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT. Your valuation means more with written documentation than with oral documentation. This means print any online valuation or clip newspaper used car ads or even get written valuation from any car dealer. All of this documentation in no way means that they owe you that price, but rather gives you a negotiation factor. It is still up to you to negotiate the value of your vehicle. The insurance company is looking out for their interests, you need to look out for yours. If after all of this you cannot come to an agreement on value, it might be time to seek additional means to settle, up to and including an attorney.

OK, we have agreed on value, now what?

Once you have agreed on a value, the insurance company “buys” the vehicle from you. Again, they only owe you the value, title fees and taxes, less your deductible if applicable, nothing else. They will write you a check for the agreed price plus the additional fees and they take possession of the vehicle. At that point you can start shopping for a replacement vehicle.

What if I want to keep my car?

Most insurance companies will negotiate with you and let you retain your vehicle. They do this by starting with the agreed upon price and deduct from that what they call “salvage value.” What is salvage value? This is a value that the insurance company would get if they retained the vehicle and sold it at auction. They can’t actually predetermine what the vehicle will sell for at auction, but they more than likely have historical records of what similar vehicles have sold for in the past. Some insurance companies just use a percentage of value, like 25 to 50%. Regardless of which way they determine salvage value, USE CAUTION in determining whether you retain your vehicle or let it go. The vast majority of the time, your settlement offer will not be enough to complete the repairs of your vehicle! We advise our customers to never invest more money into your vehicle that what it is worth. This would lead to what we call being “upside down” in your car. Not a very good position to be in. In rare cases it is worth retaining your vehicle. Examples of this could be if you know your vehicles complete mechanical history, or the vehicle is drivable and you plan on no repairs, like hail damage or storm damage. But again use caution because once you settle, the vehicle is yours! If you decide to repair, any additional damages discovered while in the repair process will come out of your pocket. NEVER make repair decisions that would adversely affect safety. Additionally, repaired or not, your vehicle is worth less money once it has been totaled as it will have a salvage title, and some insurance companies will not re-insure for full coverage.

Do what is best for you!

Review your circumstances and determine which path benefits you the most. Do not let anyone talk you into doing something that you are uncomfortable with. Consult your repair shop and question them about the possibility of additional expenses before you make your final decision.

How should you handle a hailstorm?

May 12, 2016

Hail is one of the most common and costly weather hazards in the United States, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to buildings, vehicles and crops every year. Help guard against the damaging effect of a hailstorm by following these steps!

Make a plan

A hailstorm can disrupt electrical service and is often accompanied by other severe weather events, such as tornadoes. Prepare your family for the hazards and inconveniences of a hailstorm by creating a disaster preparedness plan. Make a disaster survival kit with a flashlight and battery operated radio (don’t forget fresh batteries) along with an emergency evacuation plan.

Stay informed

Hail often occurs during severe weather patterns, such as a strong thunderstorms. When severe weather threatens, tune in to a battery powered radio for updates.  A severe thunderstorm watch means that conditions are right for thunderstorms to become severe. A severe thunderstorm warning means that a storm poses an immediate threat to the people and property in its path. This warning may be accompanied by a siren or other community alert system.

Move inside, stay inside

Hailstones vary greatly in size, but even small ones – driven by gravity and strong winds – pose a danger to anything or anyone caught in a storm. As a storm approaches, put vehicles in the garage and bring pets inside. If you are outdoors, go inside immediately.

Once you are indoors, close all drapes, blinds, or shades to prevent broken window glass and hailstones from entering your home. If possible, move to a basement, cellar or other level of the building not directly below the roof. Stay indoors until the storm passes.

Here’s what to do if you drive into a

Hail is one of the most common and costly weather hazards in the United States, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to buildings, vehicles and crops every year. Help guard against the damaging effect of a hailstorm by following these steps!How

Stay inside the vehicle. Hail falls at fast speeds, and it can cause injury to those in its path. Stop driving and pull to a safe place so hail doesn’t break the windshield or any windows – driving compounds hail’s impact with your car.  Stop under an overpass, and don’t forget to pull out of traffic lanes and onto a shoulder.  Avoid ditches due to possible high rising water. Keep your car angled so the hail is hitting the front of your car.  Windshields are reinforced to withstand forward driving and pelting objects. Side windows and backglass are not, so they’re much more susceptible to breakage. Lie down, if possible, and keep your back to the windows. If you have a blanket, cover yourself with it to prevent possible debris from hitting you.

After the storm

Inspect your vehicle for damages. Most hail damage can be seen under flourecent lamps and other lighting. If your car becomes an unlucky victim of hail damage, you’ll most likely need repair work done to remove the dimples left by the hail. Contact your insurance company for further instructions. Repair options include the conventional method or what is termed, PDR (paintless dent removal), or a combination of both. PDR repair is a process involving specially molded metal tools that massage the underside of a damaged panel until the dent is removed. This doesn’t disturb your vehicle’s factory finish and generally can be completed within days.

Choose a local repair shop

After most major hail storms, traveling Paintless Dent Repair companies will “spring up” on almost every street corner. Our advise to you is to not use these traveling repairers. The reason for this is because if you have an issue later, they won’t be here to resolve your problem, and your insurance company will not address any issues because “you chose them.” Choose a local reputable repair shop that can handle both the paintless dent repair along with the conventional repairs that require painting. That way if you have an problem later, someone is here locally to resolve it. Also, don’t  choose a repair shop based on them “saving your deductible.” Most insurance companies do not put extra money on their estimates, so if you use a company that will save your deductible, they have to provide lesser quality repairs to make up for the loss of repair money. Ask family and friends for referrals. And remember “you have the right to choose your repair shop”, the insurance company has no right to make you use any particular repair shop.

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