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.

Alloy Wheel Basics

Alloy Wheel Basics - Straight Talk from an Alloy Wheel Specialist

Alloy Wheel Basics

For a lot of people, alloy wheels are all about adding style and flair to a vehicle. And it’s true, alloy wheels can be crafted into elaborate designs with beautiful details—real head-turners when you take your ride out on the road. But what about the practicalities of alloy wheels? In this article, we’ll share information from an APR alloy wheel specialist about their advantages, disadvantages, and what you should know if they need to be repaired.

What, Exactly, are Alloy Wheels?

Alloy Wheel Basics - Photo of a gold and silver alloy wheel on a white vehicle. Simply put, alloy wheels are made from a mix—or “alloy”—of two or more metals. Most alloy wheels are made primarily from aluminum and magnesium, which makes them much lighter than standard, steel wheels. Because they weigh less, they require less energy to rotate, and they dissipate heat more effectively. Alloy wheels can also be manufactured in a much greater variety of shapes than steel wheels, offering a profusion of detailed styles and intricate patterns.

Everything You Need to Know Before Buying Alloy Wheels

Alloy Wheel Basics - Photo of a purple and silver alloy wheel on a black vehicle. The first thing most people look for in alloy wheels is eye appeal. You want a design that looks great on your car, but there are a few practical considerations, as well. Will that beautiful, elaborate design match your wheels’ lug nut pattern? And remember, some designs hold up better than others when you run them over potholes, curbs or just rough stretches of road, so you should consider your average driving conditions before making a purchase. With so many designs available, it’s also important to make sure those new wheels will be compatible with the brake disc and drum configurations on your vehicle. A good alloy wheel salesperson will confirm that, and they’ll check the rotational dimensions of the wheels to make sure they’ll function properly on your car or truck.

The Advantages of Alloy Wheels

For many alloy wheel owners, sleek appearance is all the benefit they need. But, as we hinted at earlier, there are some practical considerations, as well. Here are the three main advantages of owning alloy wheels…

A More Enjoyable Ride

Alloy wheels offer better handling and road-grip than steel wheels because their lighter weight means less inertia to overcome as they make contact with the road surface. Their lighter weight also slightly reduces stress on the vehicle’s springs and suspension. And because you’re reducing the mass being bounced around by bumps in the road, alloy wheels provide a smoother ride.

Better Fuel Economy

Looking at your wheels, you may think the decrease in wheel weight not would have a huge effect on your car’s total mass. However, reducing rotating weight has a larger effect on fuel economy and performance than reduced nonrotational weight. In a recent study, it was found that 82 pounds of reduction in wheel weight gave the same result as a 132-pound reduction in total vehicle weight.

Better Brake Performance

Photo of alloy wheel on a vehicle showing brake pads and discs behind it. Since alloy wheels are lighter, their heat dissipation is superior to steel wheels. The reduced heat helps improve brake performance and decreases the possibility of brake failure.

The Disadvantages of Alloy Wheels

Of course, alloy wheels are not without their drawbacks. While an aluminum/magnesium alloy offers better performance than steel—and it can certainly crank up a vehicle’s beauty factor—there are a couple of disadvantages to be aware of. 1. Less Durable than Steel Steel can withstand significantly greater impacts than alloy without cracking or bending, so it does a better job of standing up to rough roads and severe driving conditions. 2. Alloy Costs More The manufacturing methods used to make alloy wheels are more expensive than those used for steel wheels. Higher costs also come into play when you have to repair an alloy wheel. They’re more intricately formed than steel, and considerably costlier to repair.

Be Cautious When You Clean Alloy Wheels

Alloy wheels are often clear coated to protect their finishes, just like your car’s paint, so wash them with a soft sponge, mild soap and water, as you would the rest of the vehicle’s finish. Don’t use polishes, abrasive cleaners or abrasive pads. If you take the vehicle to a car wash service, make sure they don’t use acid cleaners, which are fine for removing grime from steel wheels, but they can really dull alloy wheels. Stiff brushes and cleaning pads should also never touch the finish of alloy wheels.

Alloy Wheel Maintenance

Okay, so there are a few disadvantages, but alloy wheels still offer better handling and fuel efficiency than steel. The only other downside is that they’re not cheap, so it’s important to protect your investment. Here are some tips: 1. Rotate Your Wheels Periodically Alloy is tough stuff, but it will have to endure significant wear and tear; it’s a fact of driving life. Different wheel positions on the vehicle may receive different kinds of wear, so it doesn’t hurt to rotate your tires every time you get an oil change, to even things out. 2. Keep ‘em Clean Every driving day adds new layers of dirt, dust and road grime; it’s unavoidable. But dirt “wears in” over time, embedding itself more deeply into the grain of the wheel finish. Alloy wheels should be washed at least once a month and after road trips, if you want to keep them looking great. Make sure to hose off dirt and grime before applying soap, as it can scratch the finish. And once each spring, after the harsh, winter weather has passed, it’s a good idea to remove the wheels and give them a thorough, all-over cleaning.

Alloy Wheel Repair

Photo of a technician removing an alloy wheel for repairs. An average wheel repair costs between $50 and $150, which is far less expensive than a replacement. It’s a very specialized process, so avoid the temptation to use a DIY wheel repair kit. These kits seldom include the range of tools and variety of finishes needed to return a wheel to like-new condition. Alloy wheel repair is also a bit of a craft, not a task to be undertaken without experience. Some repair jobs literally cannot be done with DIY kits because they require expensive, specialized equipment that most of us don’t have. The fact is that professional alloy wheel repair doesn’t cost that much more than many of the kits out there, but professional repair comes with a guarantee, so you know it will be right. When you have the inevitable run-in with curbs or flying gravel, and your alloy wheels need refurbishment, give us a call at (316) 262-8888 or bring the vehicle in. We’ll take care of you, guarantee the work, and probably cost less than you expect.

The Hidden Health Benefits of Auto Detailing

The Hidden Health Benefits of Auto Detailing

The Hidden Health Benefits of Auto Detailing - Photo of a young woman holding her nose and looking distinctly displeased while sitting in the driver seat of a car.

As the saying goes, “We live in our cars,” and a recent study by the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety has proven it true. They found that 87 percent of Americans drive and on average spend an hour and half a day in their vehicles. That’s a lot of time behind the wheel, and in that time most of us eat, drink, and give rides to pets, children and other carriers of germs and allergens. We clean and vacuum the surfaces inside our vehicles, but we seldom think about the air quality. Reports have shown that harmful allergens live and thrive inside the ventilation system and passenger cabin of almost every vehicle on the road. Considering the amount of time we spend in our vehicles, this can translate into a real health risk. In this article, we’ll explore the effects of these microscopic hitchhikers on air quality, and we’ll learn how air quality can be improved with professional interior auto detailing.

Sick Car Syndrome

Studies conducted by the University of Michigan concluded that automobiles are some of the dirtiest environments we encounter in everyday life. University of Arizona microbiologist Chuck Gerba identified pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella and MRSA in samples taken from cup holders, dashboards, seats and steering wheels. That’s because every time you turn on a fan, harmful mold spores and microorganisms are spread throughout the nooks and crannies of the passenger compartment. “Cars are the moldiest of all forms of transportation,” reports Dr. Gerba, “because people aren’t really cleaning or disinfecting these areas.” Everyday toxins, mold spores, road dust, germs, and other pollutants are drawn into the car through the fresh air vents. Once inside, fungus and bacteria can grow in the interior evaporator of the air conditioning system. Not only can odors emerge when the air conditioning is turned on, but so can germs and dust, causing passengers to experience cold-like symptoms, whether from allergies or actual germs. This occurrence is commonly known as “sick car syndrome,” and symptoms can include eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, sinus inflammation, fatigue, and asthma attacks. The same studies have found that the air inside our cars is often worse than the air we breathe at work or at home. With modern ventilation systems, which create air-tight passenger cabins, a vehicle can be a perfect incubator for germs. Researchers have discovered that climate control air blowers further increase passenger levels of germ exposure because the dark, damp environments of ventilation systems are perfect places for mold, bacteria, and viruses to thrive. The amount of mold and the length of exposure determine the potential severity of adverse health effects. Getting rid of all the germs is the only for sure way to prevent sick car syndrome.

Interior Detailing is the Answer

Regular deep cleanings and interior detailing can remove these contaminants. Interior detail specialists can reach spots inside vents and in the seams of the interior where dirt and microorganisms flourish. They also apply protectants that make it much harder for germs to get a foothold in the vehicle.

Coatings and Protectants

Coatings and protectants used by detailing shops are effective at protecting interior vehicle surfaces, not only from stains and spills but also microbes, for up to 90 days. If you apply your own protectants, be sure to use only water-based products, as silicone-based protectants leave oily residues that actually attract dust, which can harbor microbes and defeat the purpose of cleaning.

The Hidden Health Benefits of Auto Detailing - Graphic illustrating that germ and mold cell membranes are physically ruptured upon direct contact with protectant-treated surfaces.

Pet Hair Removal

It’s worth the money to have a specialist deep clean your vehicle’s interior if you have a pet that frequently rides with you. Pets carry germs on their paws, fur, mouths and other openings, so every time they go for a car ride, they leave microscopic invaders behind. UK researchers have revealed that cars used to transport children and pets have much higher bacteria counts than those that don’t. Ironically, children and pets have the greatest risk of potential infection when riding inside contaminated vehicles. Detailing shops provide specialized tools to remove pet hair in even the most difficult-to-reach spots.

Odor Elimination

Odors usually indicate the presence of germs or mold and should be dealt with swiftly to prevent microbes from finding their way onto—or into—your body. Professional detailers use industrial deodorizers to permeate fabrics and penetrate air passages to eliminate the sources of odors. For deeply ingrained smells, including strong pet odors, technicians employ ozone purification machines that entirely eradicate bacteria, mildew, mold, and offensive smells from the car’s upholstery and ventilation systems. When the job is done, the ozone harmlessly dissipates, leaving no toxic fumes in the vehicle.

Drive Safe and Stay Healthy

Air pollution inside vehicles is recognized as a major threat to human health by the World Health Organization. If you have noticed any offensive smells when you turn on the air conditioning, or you’ve experienced any of the symptoms of sick car syndrome, professional interior detailing will cure the problem. To keep your vehicle air quality safe all the time, we recommend detailing every four to six months. This keeps germs from establishing cultures, and the “new-car feeling” you get after a professional detailing job makes your drive time even more pleasant.

When Is Minor Collision Repair an Option?

When Is Minor Collision Repair an Option?

Assessing the amount of damage your vehicle has received in a minor accident can be tricky. What appears to be a small dent may conceal more substantial damage beneath the surface. But generally speaking, if none of the engine components are damaged, no fluids are leaking, and there’s no apparent malformation of the frame, you may not need to pay the premium prices of a full service body shop. In this article, we’ll cover the differences between major and minor collision repair shops—including the dramatic cost differences between them—and we’ll clarify the types of work they do.

When Is Minor Collision Repair an Option? - A paintless dent repair technician corrects a vehicle dent inside a minor collision repair shop.

What is Minor Collision Repair?

Most people think the term “body shop” has only one meaning, but it can actually describe two different types of operations:
  • Full-service body shops that can repair body, frame, glass and mechanical damage.
  • Minor collision repair shops that specialize in damage affecting only the body of the vehicle.
Full-service shops take in the big, ugly wrecks because they have mechanics on duty and frame-bending machines in the shop. They’re also happy to take in the smaller jobs, but they still have to charge rates consistent with their high overhead costs. Minor collision shops not only have lower overhead, they also tend to deal with less insurance paperwork and do more pay-out-of-pocket repairs. This reduces bookkeeping and red-tape costs, so you can usually expect to pay less at a minor collision shop for the same work, assuming your damage is repairable by these methods. And paying out of pocket can sometimes save you hundreds of dollars in the long run, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

Types of Major Collision Damage

You’ll probably need to contact a full-service shop if you have any of these types of damage:
  • 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

Types of Minor Collision Damage

This is the type of work APR does. We’ve chosen not to invest in the “heavy equipment” used by full-service shops because many, many repairs can be done without it, and for those jobs, we’re often able to save customers a lot of money. Here’s what we can fix:
  • Large dents
  • Bumpers and other plastic parts
  • Paint scuffs and scratches
  • Most hail Damage
  • Door dings and parking lot dents

Repair Methods

Small dents can often be quickly repaired by pushing out dents with Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) tools, preserving the original paint. Minor scratches are buffed out. Deeper damage is filled with putty and re-painted using state of the art, color- and texture-matching methods.

Should You File an Insurance Claim for Minor Collision Repair?

Every situation is different, but in some cases, minor collision repair can actually cost less than your insurance deductible (the amount you have to pay out of pocket before the insurance company will pay the rest). Minor collision shops can leave literally hundreds of dollars in your pocket compared to full-service facilities. Even in cases where your deductible is higher than the repair cost, bear in mind that if the damage is reported to your insurance company, your monthly rates may go up in the future. These accident-based rate increases penalize you for up to three years, so even a $30 per month increase over 36 months adds up to $1,080 out of your pocket. If this is more than the cost of the repair—and you have the cash on hand—it may make sense to pay for the repair now in order to save money in the long run.

Definitely Take the Smaller Jobs to a Minor Collision Repair Shop

When you just have a parking lot door ding or hail dents, a minor collision shop is a no-brainer. PDR removal of a small dent may only cost $50. Small touch-ups range from $50 – $75. Even a bumper panel can usually be repaired for around $250. That’s not chicken feed, but it’s many times lower than a full-service shop’s price tag for the same work. Questions? Give us a call at (316) 262-8888. We’ll do our best to help.

5 Hidden Benefits of Car Window Tinting

5 Hidden Benefits of Car Window Tinting

5 Hidden Benefits of Car Window Tinting - Photo of a window tint technician installing film on the hatch window of a vehicle. What’s the first thing you think when you see a vehicle with tinted windows? That it looks cool, right? Window tinting makes a vehicle stand out, like sunglasses for a car, but people who have tinted glass know that it’s about more than style. The real beauty of car window tinting lies in its functionality, offering five distinct benefits …

1.Vehicle Interior Protection

Tinted auto glass blocks 99 percent of UV rays, which degrade interior surfaces. It also blocks infrared (IR) radiation (long wavelengths of light that are invisible to the human eye but which transmit heat into the vehicle), reducing surface temperatures of the vehicle interior by as much as 60 degrees. Pullout: FACT: The sun gives off half its total energy as IR radiation, so there’s a lot of it in sunlight. Keep UV and IR rays outside the vehicle, and you have a significantly cooler ride. Over time, this radiation shield preserves your vehicle’s upholstery and hard surfaces, as well. Leather and vinyl age much more rapidly in the presence of heat and UV rays, becoming prematurely cracked and faded. Window tinting prevents this damage, maintaining the value of the vehicle.

2. Fuel Efficiency

Because window tinting cools the cabin, it allows the air conditioning to run less often, which can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 25 percent in hot weather. Efficiency is boosted even more for hybrid and electric vehicles. In either case, the cost savings can be significant.

3.Passenger Comfort

You’ve probably had the experience of burning yourself on parts of a car interior, or peeling your bare legs off of a sticky, vinyl seat on a blistering hot day. Vehicle interiors can get so sauna-like in the summer that they’re not even fun to climb into. Driving should be fun, and tinted windows add a lot of enjoyment to the experience. With window tinting, the vehicle stays cooler all the time, even when it’s sitting empty in a mall parking lot for three hours in 100 degree sun. Interior temperatures without tinted glass can reach 120 degrees in 20 minutes and 133 degrees in an hour. Having a radiation shield attached to the windows makes it a much nicer space to escape to after a long day of shopping. Or fishing. Or working all day. Window tint takes the road-trip experience to a whole, new level. Cooler temperatures, less glare to contend with … you get hooked on it, once you’ve tried it.

4. Driver and Passenger Protection

Everyone knows that UV rays can give you skin cancer, but not everyone knows that window tinting film cuts 99 percent of this harmful radiation. Ninety percent of skin cancer cases are caused by exposure to the sun, and Americans spend and average of 34 hours per year driving. Starting to get the picture? Most people don’t put on sunscreen before driving somewhere, but that’s a lot of time in the sun, so maybe we should. Tinted windows literally save lives.

5.Driving Safety and Security

Improved Driving Visibility

Window tinting improves driver visibility by reducing glare, a benefit that comes in handy when you’re dealing with oncoming headlights, snow and water reflections or those blinding flashes that happen when another vehicle reflects the sun straight into your eye like a laser beam.

Tighter Security

Imagine you’re a thief. You’re wearing black to conceal your presence as you slip through the night with cat-like movements, car-to-car, down a quiet street. You’re watching everywhere at once, ready to bolt at the slightest sound of another person. You pass a quick glance into each vehicle as you walk by it, looking for purses, briefcases, cell phones, cameras, musical instruments, anything you can pawn for a few bucks. What do you do when you come upon a car with window tinting? You move on. You can’t quickly see if there’s anything worth stealing, and it’s not worth making enough noise to find out. You’re a thief, but you’re a cowardly thief, a rogue of ill repute who will probably go to jail. Shame on you. Shame. When you have tinted glass, you can say, “Well, mister thief man, you won’t be stealing my stuff because I have tinted glass.”

Stay Cool

5 Hidden Benefits of Car Window Tinting - Photo of a sleek sedan with window tinting driving on the open road. Window tinting looks cool. No matter what you drive, it adds a subtle Batman element that not only turns heads, but also improves the resale value of your vehicle. If you’re ready to upgrade your ride, tinting gives you excellent bang for your buck, and it adds new layers of cool to the driving experience.

Is Paintless Dent Repair an Option For You?

Is Paintless Dent Repair an Option For You?

Is Paintless Dent Repair an Option For You?

Whether it’s major or minor, auto body damage is definitely a major inconvenience. But a relatively new technique called paintless dent repair (PDR) has dramatically reduced costs for many types of minor damage, including small dings, dents and hail damage. But how do you know if this technique is an option for you? In this article we’ll explore PDR, how it’s done and what types of damage it can repair.

What Is PDR?

Unlike traditional collision repair, which relies on sanding, putty fillers and repainting, PDR preserves the car’s original paint job, restructuring the damage by using special tools to artfully place pressure on the dent and push it back into its original shape. PDR works on most types of shallow dents in which the vehicle’s original paint has not been compromised. If the dent is shallow and the metal isn’t creased, paintless dent repair can usually be employed, and it’s a much more affordable option than traditional body work. It also takes a lot less time, so you can expect a relatively fast turnaround on the work. PDR is a great solution for hail damage as long as the clear coat is not compromised. PDR is a quick and easy process compared to the expensive, time consuming work of matching paint, grinding, puttying and/or replacing parts.

PDR vs Other Methods

Previous methods included replacing parts or using suction cups to repair the dent. The problem with replacing parts is that it can become expensive (and aftermarket parts can lower the car’s resale value). Suction cup techniques leave traces of the repair and have to be repainted. Paint-matching, especially on older vehicles where UV damage has faded the color, can be challenging. But after PDR, you drive away with same paint you drove in with; which maintains the value of the car over time. Paintless Dent Repair vs Other Methods

How PDR works

PDR techniques push out the dent from behind—or occasionally, tap at the perimeter of the damage from the outside to “pop” the surface back into place. Technicians may also remove and reinstall door trim or headliners, so they can access pressure points. Rather than using suction cups, PDR sometimes employs glue pulling. Technicians use glue heated to a precise temperature to adhere tabs to the damaged area, then use a mini-lifter to raise the dent. Traditional suction cup methods raise the entire dent at once and can pull unevenly or too far, creating a raised area. PDR tabs can be strategically placed in the correct regions of the dent to return the surface to precise smoothness.

DIY PDR Gone Wrong

For the sake of discussion, let’s say you’re good with cars; you change your own oil, do your own tune-ups … awesome; very good skills to have. But none of that prepares you for the skillsets used in PDR, which amounts to basic metal-smithing. It takes training and practice, and that PDR kit you’ve seen on Amazon will not give you the skills to do the job. Also, the tools in many of these kits are poor quality or poorly designed, which makes the job even more difficult.

A trained technician knows how to:

  • Anticipate the behavior of the body when certain pressure points are used.
  • Prevent over-pulling, which can lift the dent too far.
  • Keep the paint finish intact. Many beginners accidentally chip the paint while attempting PDR, which makes the damage much more expensive to repair.
  • Return dings and dents to a like-new finish, as if the damage never happened.
How Much Does PDR Cost?

How Much Does PDR Cost?

On average, a door ding costs between $50 and $75, depending on the severity of the damage. The cost of a repair is dependent on dent size, depth, and location. Dent size is usually compared to coin sizes. You may hear a technician say, “dime sized damage” or “quarter size damage.” Dent depth is a factor, as well.
  • Nothing Beats Your Original Auto Body Paint
  • Paintless dent repair keeps your original paint job intact, which preserves the vehicle’s resale value. It costs less and takes less time than traditional body work. Not all types of damage can be repaired with PDR, including creases or damaged paint, but when PDR is an option, it can a be a real time and money saver. Give us a call to learn more about PDR for your vehicle, or stop by the shop, and we’ll take a look at it.

    Are You a Phone Addict While Driving?

    Are You a Phone Addict While Driving?

    Are You a Phone Addict While Driving? When cell phones were first getting popular, they were a novelty. We never imagined how indispensable these pocket computers would become or how much there would be to do with them in addition to than making phone calls. Now most of us have a hard time imagining life without a smartphone. We trust them with our calendars, our finances, our personal information, our diets—and our phones have turned into communication devices beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings. It’s no wonder we spend so much time staring at them. For many of us, it’s a regular habit to whip out our phones for the slightest reason, and maybe this is how we fall into the practice of using them while driving. It seems safe enough while you’re doing it. Sure, you’re a great driver—better than most—and you’re certainly capable of multitasking. This is what everyone tells themselves, but research proves that, in fact, humans are NOT capable of multitasking. Furthermore, new research has shown that many of us are so addicted to our devices that we have no idea how dangerous we are while using them behind the wheel. If you’re one of the “great drivers” who has no problem using a phone while driving, read on to find out if you’re a smartphone addict, and what it could mean for your safety.

    Signs of Phone Addiction

    Zendesk (a driving safety analytics company) recently released a report profiling what they call “phone addicts,” an emerging segment of drivers who:
    • Handle their phones four times as much as other drivers.
    • Spend six times longer looking at the screens of their devices while driving.
    • Take their eyes off the road for more than a fourth of the time they’re behind the wheel.
    But let’s back up a step: before this new, phone-addicted type of driver emerged, the numbers were already bad. A steady increase in traffic fatalities since 2005 has been correlated to smartphone use by drivers, so all of us, addicted or not, do a poorer job of driving when we’re talking, texting, playing music, geolocating, facetiming or Facebooking. Bluetooth headsets don’t help, according to the research; even if your eyes are on the road, your mind still becomes distracted when you use a smart device. But phone addicts use their phones a lot more than normal drivers, dramatically increasing traffic risks. And 93 percent of them describe their driving as extremely safe. Research shows that this just isn’t true, yet, like any other type of addict, the addicted driver does not connect the danger with the behavior.

    The Bluetooth Headset Myth

    Although it seems like hands-free talking should reduce the risks associated with having a phone conversation while driving, the research results beg to differ. Yes, you do eliminate the additional risk of taking your hand off the wheel, but that still leaves a lot for the brain to process. Even with your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, your mind is not processing all the information. Instead, you’re using some of your brain power to process cognitive information from the phone call, drifting into mental scenarios from your discussion. This steals much-needed mental attention from the road and surrounding traffic, making you statistically as vulnerable as if you were holding your device or watching a video.

    The Multitasking Myth

    In today’s digital world, it’s common to hear people brag about how well they can multitask. But the truth is, while our brains are accustomed to changing tasks more rapidly than they used to be, we’re still just doing one thing at a time. Computers can function with multiple processors, but we have only one. We don’t multiprocess; what we actually do is rapidly juggle. So what does this do to our driving focus? Studies have proven that, when we add a second task to driving, some of the attention we were giving our driving is reassigned. There is also a switching time between the thoughts you are devoting to your phone and the thoughts devoted to driving, so more attention time is sacrificed as we “multitask.” These switch times take roughly a tenth of a second, and when you are multitasking at 60 mph, they add up to critical losses of attention span that can mean the difference between life and death. We don’t notice that we’re absorbing less driving information because of a phenomenon called “inattention blindness,” which makes it impossible to know what we’re missing while we’re missing it. When we talk on the phone and look ahead at the road, we think we’re seeing everything in our surroundings, but our brains don’t properly process most of that visual information. MRI tests were performed on the brains of drivers while alone, and then again while listening to a conversation, and researchers saw a 37 percent reduction of activity in the brain’s parietal lobe, which is associated with driving. Photos comparing brain activity in the parietal lobe while driving alone with reduced activity while listening to someone talk.

    Overcoming Phone Addiction Behind the Wheel

    If you’re one of the people who really has a hard time putting their phone down to drive, you’re among the highest risk drivers on the road today. The first step to becoming a safer driver is to admit that you are not, in fact, an exception to the rule. No matter how fast your mind works, you are still sacrificing traffic safety by using a smart device while driving. The surest way to recovery is to replace the habit of picking up your phone with a habit of taking a second look at traffic, looking around to see if anyone is in your blind spots, checking traffic conditions far ahead of you. There’s plenty to keep a good driver busy behind the wheel; you just have to remind yourself that you are in control of a massive machine, recognize that things can change in a heartbeat, and that driving deserves your undivided attention.

    Winning the Claim Game: A Perfectly Legal Body Shop Insurance Hack

    Winning the Claim Game: A Perfectly Legal Body Shop Insurance Hack

    A Perfectly Legal Body Shop Insurance Hack

    Let’s preface this by saying that this hack doesn’t work for everyone; it only applies to certain types of collision repair and certain auto insurance scenarios. But if it fits your situation, you can save some time and money—maybe even keep your driving history clean. The insurance company may also save money on the deal—a win-win. In this article, we’ll show you how the “deductible hack” can save you hundreds of dollars on certain types of collision repair.

    How it Works

    Your natural instinct when the dust has settled after an auto accident is to call the insurance agent. That’s what they’re there for, after all, and insurance payouts can be financial lifesavers when you have major vehicle damage. But with some types of damage, you may actually come out ahead by paying for repairs out of pocket. If your repair estimate is $800, but your insurance deductible is $1,000 (the amount your policy makes you pay out of pocket before the insurance company will pay the rest), it’s pretty simple math. It makes no sense to file a claim because you’ll have to pay the full $800 either way. By filing a claim, you may also risk driving up your monthly premium payment, which could cost you more money every month for the next three years.
    But what if your repair quote is, say, $1,300 with the same $1,000 deductible? If you file a claim, you’ll pay $1,000 out of pocket, and the insurance company will pay $300. Saving $300 is better than nothing, but you may be able to do better because this is the type of scenario in which the hack may work. It’s based on the fact that different types of body shops can charge very different amounts of money for the same types of work. Most of the repair estimates insurance companies see are from full-service body shops—the ones that commonly work on big, gnarly repair jobs. Many of these shops have ongoing relationships with insurers which guarantee specific payouts for specific types of damage. On the other hand, minor collision repair shops (like APR) don’t do the big jobs, and they don’t have cost agreements with insurance companies. These shops have much more leeway on pricing. At APR, we routinely beat full-service shop estimates by hundreds of dollars. So let’s go back to our hypothetical $1,300 repair estimate. If you have no frame or engine part damage—it’s just the body of the vehicle—APR may be able to do the work for far less than $1,300. We routinely do repairs previously quoted in that range for $800 – $1,000. You save money, the insurance company saves money, and nobody has to wade through red tape to get the job done. If your deductible is higher than your estimate, we may also be able to save you some significant cash when you’re paying the full amount out of pocket.

    Hold Off on that Insurance Claim?

    If you’ve had an accident, and you think the deductible hack may apply to your situation, start by getting an estimate from a full-service shop recommended by your insurer (it should be listed on their website). Then get an estimate from APR. We’ll do an inspection, run some numbers, and see if we can get you back on the road—and leave some money in your pocket.

    The Four Auto Paint Stains You Shouldn’t Ignore

    The Four Auto Paint Stains You Shouldn’t Ignore

    Even if you’re picky about your vehicle’s appearance, as many of us are, you can probably live with a few blemishes on the paint between car washes. After all, you can’t babysit your car or truck’s appearance every second of every day. We drive through water, slush, mud, and probably a few other things best left unmentioned, but most of them can be washed away days or weeks later with no ill effects. That’s not true of the Big Four Stains: road tar, bug guts, tree sap and bird droppings. These should always be cleaned immediately or they may cause deeper damage to your vehicle’s clearcoat. The Four Auto Paint Stains You Shouldn’t Ignore And no matter how tempting, never use an abrasive sponge or steel wool on auto paint; it will scratch. Also note that you can pick up commercial products to get rid the Big Four Stains at your nearest automotive store, but you may already have what you need in your garage or tool drawer. Read on to learn how to remove these nightmarish boogers without making things worse in the process.

    How to Remove Road Tar

    Road tar is no fun to clean off after it hardens, but it’s the easiest of the Big Four Stains. The key is to surround it with a thin, greasy substance that can find its way under the edges of the tar and separate it from the paint surface. The best product is WD-40, a very thin, petroleum-based oil, but you can also us Goo Gone, peanut butter or a commercial tar remover. The technique is simple: Apply WD-40 to the stain and beyond its edges, so the liquid can work its way in and under the sides. Wipe off the loosened tar with a soft cloth. Repeat until the stain is fully lifted. Now wash the car to remove the residues of the cleaner. Off you go on the highway of life, free of unsightly tar stains. Note: keep the WD-40 away from auto glass; it’s no fun to wash off.

    How to Remove Bug Guts

    Bug guts should be removed as soon as you see them. A bug body contains acids that can damage your finish in as little as two days, wreaking cruel vengeance on you for its untimely death. WD-40 works for this stain, as well, and the technique is similar to tar removal: Wet the spot past its edges with WD-40 and let it soak for 10 minutes.Wipe off the stain with a soft cloth using circular motions. Repeat as needed. Again: don’t use WD-40 on auto glass. It’s a pain to remove. Wash the vehicle to remove the oily mess you’ve left, and you’re back on the road, ready to hit more bugs.

    How to Remove Tree Sap

    If you catch this nasty mess as soon as it happens, you can usually wash it away with soap and water. But after it dries, be very cautious because dried sap is like dried glue, and it’s possible to lift paint as you scrub it off. The solution is rubbing alcohol, often used in combination with WD-40. Neither will harm your vehicle paint. Wet a soft cloth with alcohol, press it against the sap and leave it for 10 minutes. Wipe the stain away with a microfiber cloth. Repeat as needed. Dried sap may take several passes to fully remove. If alcohol isn’t cutting it, soak the area for 10 minutes with, you guessed it, WD-40.Wipe again. Once all the sap is removed, wash the car to remove the chemicals you’ve used.

    How to Remove Bird Droppings

    If you haven’t figured it out yet, WD-40 has a lot of uses. And yes, it also works great for bird droppings. Spray it on the area and leave it for about a minute, then rinse or wipe it away with a soft cloth. As with the other tough stains on this list, it may take more than one pass, but you’ll get there. You can find other methods for removing bird droppings, but this is the most effective one we’ve found.

    A Note on Removing Tough Stains from Auto Glass

    Tar shouldn’t be a problem on auto glass unless you drive through a river of it. Here’s how to remove the other three stains from glass:
    • Bug guts: Water and dish soap should do the job here, but if you have stubborn spots, you can buy commercial remedies at an auto parts store.
    • Tree sap: This can be a tough one. If soap and hot water doesn’t budge it, use a window scraper or box knife blade to scrape it off. Be very careful around chrome and painted areas. Be even more careful with your fingers.
    • Bird droppings: Again, start with soap and water. If it doesn’t do the trick, seltzer water or club soda may help. Let the the drink of your choice soak into the droppings for five minutes, then wipe away.
    If you run into a stain that just won’t come off, or you’ve removed a stain only to find out it’s damaged your paint, contact APR. We have a few other tricks up our sleeves that may help. Good luck!

    Repairs Before You Return Your Leased Vehicle

    Repairs and Restorations Before You Return Your Leased Vehicle

    Leasing can be a great way to drive the car of your dreams, but alas, it’s not yours forever, and at some point you’ll have to return it to the dealership. When you do, they’ll perform an inspection to look for stains, damage and excessive wear and tear. They’ll allow a certain amount of normal wear on certain parts of the vehicle, but they’ll charge you for any necessary repairs and renovation—and they’ll charge considerably more than you’ll spend if you get the work done somewhere else. This is why many experienced vehicle lease customers handle repairs themselves before returning a vehicle. Most of the clean-up and repair you need to worry about is minor, so it doesn’t break the bank when you take it to a detailing or minor collision repair shop. In this article, we’ll take a look at a few of the “red flags” you should be aware of before returning a lease vehicle, and we’ll discuss some of the services APR provides that can save you literally hundreds of dollars on a lease return.

    Interior Detailing

    Photo of a detailing technician steam cleaning vehicle upholstery. A professional interior detailing is the bare minimum you should do before returning a leased vehicle. The fact is, we spend so much time inside our vehicles that we stop noticing some of the stains and marks we’ve left on them, but trained professionals have the eye, the tools and the experience to spot and deal with potential problem areas.Let’s take a look at a few services included in interior detailing that can help you get your car lease-ready.

    Professional Stain Removal

    Vehicles are like second homes to many of us.The average American spends 1½ hours per day in their vehicle, which sometimes includes eating and drinking. Over time, spills and stains are almost unavoidable,but you should definitely have them removed before returning the vehicle. Some stains are really difficult to clean and may require professional-grade chemicals or techniques to remove. For example, let’s take a look at the five worst things to spill in your car.

    The 5 Worst Things to Spill in Your Car

    Mayonnaise

    Mayonnaise spills are both greasy and sticky. The oils in the condiment stain and eat away at upholstery if not cleaned in a timely manner.

    Coffee

    Coffee is notoriously difficult to clean. Not only does it cause staining, but many coffee beverages contain dairy which sours if not cleaned. Sour milk is also an excellent bacteria nursery, so other foul odors can follow.

    Gum

    Gum is obviously sticky and ridiculously difficult to remove. Gum stains can actually get worse as you clean them, if you’re not using the proper chemicals with the proper techniques. Professionals are good at this.

    Chocolate

    Chocolate causes stains, and if it isn’t cleaned immediately it can attract ants and other bugs.

    Soft Drinks

    And number one … soft drinks; the absolute worst thing to spill in your car, and sadly most of us have done it. If not cleaned quickly, the soda will turn into a thick sludge and become very sticky, making it difficult to remove. Soda spills will also attract bacteria and mold if not dealt with quickly.

    Odor Removal

    Those spills, if not cleaned properly, can get mildewy and attract bacteria—creating some humdinger odors. These can be even more difficult to get rid of than stains; but most detailing shops have an ozone generator, which they use to fill the car with this modified version of oxygen. Ozone kills odors and germs at the molecular level without harming anything else in the vehicle. It dissipates quickly when the vehicle is ventilated, leaving zero harmful vapors. It also works great on pet odors.

    Leather Restoration

    As leather gets older, it loses surface protectants and becomes susceptible to dirt, oils, and UV damage. Leather seating is a common add-on to leased vehicles, and returning stained or damaged leather seats will definitely cost you. But detailing professionals have a few tricks up their sleeves for cleaning, restoring and repairing leather that can usually put you back in good shape.

    Convertible Top Restoration

    Photo of a fabric convertible top on a Ford Mustang. Whether it’s fabric or vinyl, a convertible top is exposed to dust, harsh weather, industrial chemicals, and other pollutants. Regular maintenance can go a long way, but sometimes your roof may need a little extra help to get it back to that “like-new” appearance. Detailing services can usually provide the repairs to get it ready for lease return.

    Alloy Wheel Repair

    Photo of a technician removing an alloy wheel from a vehicle for repair. Alloy wheels are susceptible to gravel, curb rash and the normal ravages of wind and weather. If you opted for alloy wheels on your lease vehicle, they need to look reasonably close to the condition they were in when you signed the lease. APR offers alloy wheel repair, which is much cheaper than buying new wheels, and we’re usually able to achieve stunning, like-new results.

    Paintless Dent Repair

    Photo of a PDR technician tapping the hood of a vehicle to remove a small dent. Paintless dent repair, or PDR for short, is a low-cost alternative to traditional body work. It only works on small dings and dents with no creasing and paint damage. Instead of grinding and filling dents, PDR technicians push, coax, tap and massage them back into their original shape without damaging the paint. It’s a very fast, surprisingly cheap procedure compared to traditional methods.

    Coming Out Ahead on the Deal

    Doing the detailing and repair work out of pocket usually makes good financial sense. By avoiding the bureaucratically inflated costs applied by lease companies, you can end up with more money in your pocket, once the deal is done.