Collision Repair and the Careful Owner
My car was sandwiched in a freeway accident last year that caused about $7000 worth of damage to the front and rear of my practically brand-new Ford Fiesta. My car was in the shop for six weeks and received three paint jobs while they desperately tried to match its Blaze Yellow tricoat. They repaired it without that annoying paint "flop" that makes some body parts appear darker than others from different angles, but a year later, I still can't walk up to my car without noticing one particular flaw: a chip in the paint at the edge of the bumper that didn't seem like it was worth worrying about when I picked up the car from the repair shop, but has bugged me ever since.
Most drivers don't think much about whether or not a car is repaired properly after a crash. Why should they? The car looks good and seems to be properly repaired. But, that tiny chip makes me worry about repair issues I can't see. What about all the parts and bits UNDER the new bumpers and fascia? (Like the stream of ants that came swarming out from under my hood a month after I brought the car home? They were an added bonus!)
Enter VeriFacts Automotive, an independent onsite quality verification service that was founded to address the implementation of best repair practices and standards within the collision repair industry. I took my car to a repair shop approved by my insurance company, and I thought it was also an AutoClub certified facility; turns out sometimes those signs hanging around aren't always current…
So, to help educate drivers about the potential pitfalls of auto collision repair and teach them what to look for after a vehicle has been repaired, VeriFacts Automotive has created a list of top-five collision repair errors.
“It’s our job to ensure collision repair centers provide the highest quality repair and safety standards possible,” said VeriFacts Automotive CEO Farzam Afshar. “So when I see improperly-repaired vehicles on the road, I can’t help but think the driver’s safety is in jeopardy. We are aiming to change this by helping to educate both the consumer and auto collision center owners.” For more information, visit www.verifactsauto.com
VeriFacts recommends consumers be vigilant after a crash repair and seek a second opinion immediately if you notice any of these problems:
Poor alignment: Is the car pulling to one direction after the repair? This could be indicative of a bent frame or misaligned unibody structure. While some vehicles can be rightfully straightened after a crash, those that can’t typically will not drive straight and wear out tires quickly. This could also cause the vehicle to handle poorly and having the vehicle aligned may not fix it.
Has your car been clipped? This is a big no-no nowadays. Clipping means that an entire used section from a different vehicle (such as a complete front end) has been welded on to the rest of the vehicle. While this was a common practice 20 years ago, newer cars are made from lightweight high-strength materials and welding a whole new used section of the car to these metals may cause structural weaknesses that could prove fatal in a subsequent crash.
Was your airbag replaced? This is less of a blunder than it is an unscrupulous practice by less-than-reputable auto collision centers. Airbags are expensive and could fetch big money on the black market. Some shady repairers will charge the insurance companies for new ones, won’t install them, and then will sell them out the back door. If your airbag light is on or if the center of your steering wheel sounds hollow after knocking on it lightly, get it checked out.
Aftermarket and Used Parts: Believe it or not, some insurance companies may require that auto collision repair centers utilize aftermarket parts that may not meet the original manufacturer specifications, or they may allow used structural parts that may be against manufacturers’ recommendations. Ask the collision repair center to see the invoicing/receipts for the parts used on your car. An inferior or used part can make a huge difference if you have another accident.
Torque: This is extremely important. If your car requires the replacement of suspension parts, they absolutely need to be torqued to manufacturers’ specifications. Failure to do so could result in a loose assembly that will negatively affect handling and performance. Ask the collision center what procedures they follow when replacing suspension parts and ask if they can provide you with the torque specifications.
Is it Time to Shop For a New Car?
Sometimes, after an accident, owners may choose to sell their car and buy something new -- sadly, even after being repaired, the car just doesn't seem the same anymore. Curious to know what your car’s value might be? Search for its value using ClearBook.com: ClearBook analyzes millions of used-car listings and sales transactions to determine your used car’s trade-in and expected selling price. And then, when you're ready to buy something new, be sure to visit TrueCar.com, where you can find the best local price on a new car through our Certified Dealer Network.