Alloy Wheels: Can that Curb Rash Be Repaired?

Alloy Wheels: Can that Curb Rash Be Repaired?

Alloy Wheel Repair Can Do More than You Might Think for Curb Rash Your ride sure looks nice. You went for the alloy wheels, and your vehicle has a much classier look now. It’s a real head-turner because it’s amazing what that one upgrade does for a car or truck. But then: curb rash! It happens to the best of us. The good news is that most curb rash on alloy wheels can be repaired.

Alloy Wheel Repair Can Do More than You Might Think for Curb Rash - Photo of alloy wheel rim with “curb rash,” which results from scraping against raised cement structures.

A Bit of Background on Alloy Wheels

Alloy wheels do more than make your vehicle look cool. Because they’re made from an alloy of magnesium and aluminum, they’re lighter than steel wheels and can improve your gas mileage. They also dissipate heat better, which can extend brake life. These materials make it possible to produce alloy wheels in all kinds of colors and designs, so, yeah, they look cooler than regular steel wheels. But when they get damaged, it’s easy to freak out and think they’ll never be the same again—or that you can’t afford to have them repaired. Most of the time, this just isn’t true.

Alloy Wheel Repair Can Be an Affordable Option

When you see that curb rash, your first impulse may be to assume that the wheels will never be the same again, but take heart; an average wheel repair costs $100 to $150, with some ringing in at only $50. When you compare this to the cost of a replacement wheel, it’s not that bad.

A Word About Do-It-Yourself Wheel Repair Kits

Yes, you can buy kits to do your own wheel repair, but make no mistake: you will not get the same results as you would from a professional repair job. First of all, these kits don’t have anywhere near the number of tools you need to do the job right, and secondly, if they did, it would still be nearly impossible to achieve results comparable to a pro job because wheel repair takes training and practice. Some alloy wheel damage can’t be fixed at all with home repair kits because the damage is too severe, or finish textures and colors can’t be matched.

Proper Care can Extend the Life of Alloy Wheels

Cleaning Alloy Wheels

Unlike their steel counterparts, alloy wheels often have painted finishes, which makes them more vulnerable to damage, even from simple cleaning. A good rule of thumb is to clean them the same way you would your car’s paint. Never use acid cleaners, and make sure any car wash shops you take the vehicle to don’t use them either. Also stay away from abrasive cleaners and pads, including polishing compounds, as these can score the surface of the wheel finish.

Two Tricks for Maintaining Alloy Wheels

  1. As your mom probably told you when you were growing up, ground-in dirt is harder to clean than new dirt, so it’s important to clean your alloy wheels regularly. If you let dirt sit on them for very long, it works its way into the microscopic grain of the surface. This makes it harder to remove, and scrubbing away this deep dirt can scratch the wheel finish.
  2. Consider rotating alloy wheels every time you get an oil change because they can wear unevenly in different wheel positions.
Buy the Right Alloy Wheels in the First Place

Alloy Wheel Repair Can Do More than You Might Think for Curb Rash - Photo showing a four-lug-nut mounting configuration for an alloy wheel.

Alloy wheels are usually a “vanity purchase,” so appearance is certainly an important consideration when you buy them. But they also need to be compatible with your brake drum configuration. This shouldn’t be a problem if you buy from a reputable shop, but it’s worth doing a little research on your own to make sure your new wheels will work on your vehicle. Another consideration is the lug nut pattern. Seems obvious, but people have been known to buy wheels that literally can’t be mounted on their vehicles, so give this an extra look, as well.
Why Do Alloy Wheels Require Extra Care?
They’re prettier, lighter, and they can improve driving performance and fuel efficiency, but alloy wheels are not as tough as steel wheels. Use an extra ounce of caution when you drive on them, avoiding rough roads whenever possible. And of course, get in the habit of staying farther away from curbs! Alloy wheels are a great way to transform the look of your vehicle, but they cost a lot more than steel wheels, so it’s worth paying extra attention to your driving habits. If you get in trouble, give us a call at (316) 262-8888 or stop by the shop on Washington Street in Wichita. Take a deep breath; most alloy wheel damage—and almost all curb rash—can be healed.

A Guide to Estimating Your Auto Body Damage

A Guide to Estimating Your Auto Body Damage

A Guide to Estimating Your Auto Body Damage - Photo of a vehicle that has run off the road.

There are few sounds more sickening than the crunch and scrape you hear when your vehicle is damaged. Your first thought is probably one of acute loss, knowing your previously attractive ride has been deformed. Your second thought is probably, How much is this going to cost me? And your third thought may be, I don’t have time to deal with this. But you have to deal with it, and we thought it might be helpful to provide this guide to estimating your auto body damage.

Every Situation is Different

The only way to know for sure how much auto will cost is to take it to a professional because there may be hidden damage that’s difficult to describe in a blog post, but there are a few guidelines that can give you a better sense of what you’re dealing with as you do that first walk-around. In this post, we’ll answer these questions: • Which type of body shop do you need? Minor collision repair or full-service collision repair? • Which auto body repair techniques will be required, and what are their price differences. • Minor collision repair techniques. • What role does insurance play in repair costs? • How can you tell if your vehicle is totaled?

Which Type of Body Shop Do You Need?

Many people are unaware that there are two types of body shops, and one of them tends to be more expensive than the other, even when providing the same service. Full service collision repair shops have to charge more than minor collision repair shops because they have significantly higher equipment costs. A full service shop invests in, not only mechanical repair equipment for engine damage, but also large frame bending machines to straighten entire vehicle frames. On the other hand, a minor collision repair shop performs only body work, so they don’t have to invest in the big equipment. But as you’ve probably guessed, full-service shops can do a wider range of repairs than minor collision shops. APR is a minor collision repair shop—the cheaper kind—so if you only have damage to the vehicle body, we can probably save you money on repairs.

Is Your Vehicle Damage Repairable by a Minor Collision Shop?

Let’s take a look at some key indicators that you may need a full service shop rather than the type of minor collision repair provided by APR. Signs you may need a full service body sho • Your vehicle has visible frame damage. The frame is the heavy, steel or aluminum structure (chassis) to which everything else is attached. A bent frame requires a frame bender, which is only available from a full service shop. • Damage to mechanical parts, such as the alternator, engine, steering system, brake system, engine, etc. Minor collision repair shops don’t hire mechanics, and they don’t buy mechanical diagnostic and repair equipment. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of repairs that will probably require a full-service sho • Bent frame • Suspension damage • Engine component damage • Broken windows • Trunk or doors that will not close • Dangling parts • Fluid leaks • Deployed airbags • Broken or missing lights And here’s a closer look a the types of damage we repair at APR: • Large dents • Bumpers and other plastic parts • Paint scuffs and scratches • Most hail damage • Door dings and parking lot dents If your damage falls into the first category, you’ll almost certainly need to visit our partners at one of Auto Craft’s full service body shops in Wichita. If you see leaking fluids … well, that’s not good, and we’ll cover that below when we discuss how to tell if your vehicle is totaled.

Minor Collision Repair Techniques

Shops like APR use many of the same techniques as full service facilities. Like them we sand, putty and repaint for certain types of damage (we’ll refer to this as “traditional body work”). But we use Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) techniques for less severe body damage. PDR is far less expensive—and much faster—than traditional body work.

What is Paintless Dent Repair?

When PDR is an option, it’s a serious money-saver compared to traditional body work. Instead of dent-pulling, sanding, puttying, buffing and painting, technicians use a specialized set of tools to “massage” the vehicle body back into its original shape. Learn more from our recent post on paintless dent repair.

A Guide to Estimating Your Auto Body Damage - Photo of a paintless dent repair tool being used to correct a minor dent in a vehicle.

What Role Does Auto Insurance Play in the Final Repair Cost?

The short answer is: insurance almost never covers the entire repair cost. In some cases, you may save money by not filing a claim at all. Let’s take a deeper look.

Types of Auto Insurance

A Guide to Estimating Your Auto Body Damage - Detail photo of a vehicle insurance policy with a car key laying on it.

First, you’ll need to understand a few definitions … • Collision insurance This type of coverage pays out when your car collides with something. It could be another car, a tree, etc. • Comprehensive insurance This covers damages from non-object-collision events, like theft, deer collisions (apparently not considered an “object”), storm damage, vandalism, and fire. • Deductible As we said above, the insurance company rarely pays the full amount. The deductible is the amount you’re required to pay out of pocket before insurance will pay the remainder. • Premium This is the amount you pay per month to receive auto insurance.

Here’s the Thing:

You don’t really have a lot of control over how much your insurance provider will pay for any given repair because it’s tightly defined in their policies, which vary from one provider to the next. What you can control is whether or not you should file a claim at all. For major damage, the answer is always “yes,” but if you have damage that can be fixed by a minor collision repair shop, you may want to take a close look at your policy and your choice of body shops. It’s a very good idea to get more than one quote on minor collision repair. Even if the insurance company refers you to a full service shop, you have the option of getting a second opinion from a minor collision shop like APR. In many instances, we’ve been able to offer a repair quote that was much closer to the customer’s insurance deductible. When this is the case, the customer actually saves money by not filing a claim at all and paying for repairs out of pocket. Check out our article, “Winning the Claim Game: A Perfectly Legal Body Shop Insurance Hack” to see how this works, and whether it may apply to your situation.

Is Your Vehicle Totaled?

Some vehicle damage is so bad that insurance providers may deny coverage for repairs because they’ll cost more than the vehicle is worth. How do you know if this is a possibility with your damage? There are a few telltale signs that a vehicle may be totaled: • The vehicle can’t be driven. This is often an indication that there is damage to the frame, for which repair costs often run higher than the value of the vehicle. • Deployed air bags. It sounds strange, but the cost of replacing air bags and re-certifying the vehicle as safe is extremely expensive. • Fluids on the ground where the damage occurred. Most vehicles’ fluid reservoirs are located in areas that, when damaged, indicate high repair costs. • Heavy hail damage. If too many hours of body work are required to repair heavy auto hail damage, the cost can exceed the value of the vehicle. If the vehicle is totaled, your insurance policy may cover a cash payout for its current value, and it’s time to start looking for another ride. The bottom line is that you really need to take the vehicle to a professional to see what the repair cost will be because there are many types of damage that are not visible to the untrained eye. Give us a call at APR or bring the vehicle by our shop on South Washington in Wichita, and we’ll give you the scoop on what repair costs my look like.

How to Buy Your Car Back After it’s Totaled (and Not Regret It)

How to Buy Your Car Back After it’s Totaled (and Not Regret It)

It’s sometimes surprising how little damage it takes to “total” a vehicle. And it’s never any fun when the insurance adjuster tells you that you won’t be getting your car or truck back. But can you get it back? Technically, yes, often you can. But are you sure you want it back? That’s an important question to ask. A totaled vehicle buy-back can be a bad financial decision, but in some cases, the numbers can add up just fine, meaning that you’ll still receive a (smaller) insurance payout, providing you with plenty of cash to do repairs on the vehicle and keep driving it. In this article, we’ll share some tips on determining whether your vehicle is safe to buy back, and how to tell whether the numbers will make sense for you.

Is the Vehicle Mechanically Sound?

The first question to ask, before we talk about moolah, is whether the vehicle is mechanically sound. This could be important for three reasons:
  • Some types of damage, like a cracked frame, can go entirely undetected by adjusters and body shop technicians. It would ruin your day if a cracked frame broke the rest of the way while you were driving.
  • If you plan to have bodywork done after buying the car back, some types of invisible damage may only become apparent when the work is being done. This can lead to suddenly astronomical repair bills.
The next question is whether the buy-back is allowed in your state. Kansas allows it, but not all states do. And finally, will the insurance company allow it? Not all of them do, so check with your agent as a first step.

The Arithmetic of Buying Your Totaled Car Back

A big heads-up: It’s possible to put yourself in a tough financial spot with a buy-back. For one thing, you may have a more difficult time selling the vehicle later because it will be “branded” in a public database as “salvage” (or a similar word). That’s not necessarily a deal-killer, but it’s good to be aware of if you have new vehicle plans down the road. Your real concern should be hidden damage. Body shop technicians are generally pretty good at estimating repair costs, but there are some problems they simply can’t see until they take things apart. Damage like a cracked frame may not be visible, even if they’re looking right at it, so you should evaluate the type of damage your vehicle received during the collision and decide whether it may have stressed the frame (not every type of collision does). Damage to airbag systems can be invisible until they’re tested, and they cost upwardsMinor Collision Repair of $2,000 each to replace. Again, evaluate how likely it is that these areas were stressed during your collision before deciding to buy your vehicle back. So you can see how you might get into some deep water here. There’s no perfect advice on how worried you should be about hidden damage. Listen to the professionals, use your instincts and common sense, and may the force be with you.

Working Out the Numbers

If this article has scared you spitless, and you’ve decided not to buy your vehicle back, the insurance company will write you a check for the value of the vehicle at the moment of its untimely demise, minus the amount of your deductible. If your spit is intact, and you’re still interested in buying your vehicle back, read on. When you opt for the buy-back, the insurance company will subtract your deductible from their payout check. They’ll also deduct the vehicle’s salvage value. They could sell the car to a salvage company instead of selling it to you, and fair or not, they will expect you to pay the amount they would have received. The price tag you pay for the totaled vehicle will be based on its value in current, damaged condition. So here’s what the numbers look like:
How to Buy Your Car Back After it’s Totaled (and Not Regret It) - Image showing calculation process for subtracting deductible, salvage value and buy-back price from the total insurance payout to find the amount of cash left over for repairs of a totaled vehicle. Now you know how much cash you’ll have in hand, along with your damaged vehicle. The next question is whether it will be enough to cover repair costs. If the damage is entirely cosmetic, and you have no problem driving the vehicle in public as it is, this cost will be zero. But if you need to have repairs made to bring the car back to drivability or make it more visually presentable, it’s time to take it to a body shop and get some estimates. The repair cost is an area where you have some wiggle room because not all body shops charge the same amount of money for the same work. It’s possible that the high repair quotes that were presented to the insurance company—rendering the car a total loss—could be significantly reduced if you have the right kinds of damage and choose the right shop to do the work. This could put you in a financial “safe zone” of being able to buy the vehicle back, and still having enough insurance payout left over to do the repairs. So what kind of damage is eligible, and what kind of body shop are you looking for?

Cost Effective Buy-Back Repairs and Where to Find Them

There are two types of body shops: full-service collision repair shops and minor collision repair shops. Full-service shops are the ones that have big frame-bending machines and mechanics on duty. They do everything. Minor collision repair shops, like APR, only work on vehicles with no frame damage and no broken mechanical parts. Because we don’t invest in the big-ticket shop equipment, and we don’t pay to keep mechanics on duty, we’re able to charge less for the same body work. This difference between our base price and that of a full-service shop is where you can start to make financial sense of a totaled vehicle buy-back. The first step is to bring the vehicle to APR for an estimate. We’ll give you numbers to do the repairs you want, and it gives us an opportunity to take a close look and alert you of any possible hidden damage that may get you into trouble along the way. Again, it’s important to mention that we may not find everything with a visual examination. But if you’re convinced this is not an issue, it’s nice to have the support of a professional opinion. We can typically do the same repairs as a full-service shop for a fraction of the price, so don’t be surprised if our pricing is very different than what you saw on the insurance paperwork. In some cases, the type of damage is repairable in our shop, and the cost savings are so significant that it makes sense to have the work done. Give us a call at (316) 262-8888 if you’re considering buying back a totaled vehicle. We’ll give you good advice, and if the work makes sense for your situation, we’ll get you and your beloved ride back on the road.