Dent Repair on a Rental Car: Are You Liable?

dent repair on a rentalDoes dent repair on a rental car come out of your pocket? Our clients ask us this question all the time after a dent turns up on their rental vehicle. We’ll go over the scenarios in which you may be liable and when it’s the renter’s insurance that foots the cost.

Examine the Car First

First of all, always thoroughly examine the rental car before driving it off the lot. The dent may already be there, and it’s possible for staff to overlook a scratch or dent during their own inspection. Snap photos of any dents you notice, no matter how seemingly minor. Report any damage and check with staff to be sure the damage has been documented on their end. Continue Reading →

Is Your Camry Vulnerable to the “Camry Dent?”

Camry DentThe Toyota Camry is quite a common car. In fact, many of the cars we fix up in our auto shop are Camrys of various years and trims. A phenomenon known as the Camry dent is floating around in various auto forums. We thought this would be a fun topic to discuss; it’s especially a nice food-for-thought article for Camry owners

What Is the Camry Dent Phenomenon?

The Camry dent is exactly what its name suggests. It’s a dent that appears on the corner of a Camry’s rear bumper. Of course, this type of dent is not unusual. It can occur from a minor fender bender or hitting a stationary object such as a light pole. However, the dent is especially visible on Camrys, and especially the XV trims.

The Camry Dent was first discussed in a forum in 2011. Since then, it has taken on a life of its own. A number of Facebook groups and Twitter feeds have also been created solely to discuss the Camry dent. Once you realize it’s a phenomenon, you begin to notice the number of bumper dents on parked and moving Camrys. Continue Reading →

The Evolution and History of Car Paint

history of car paintWhat stands out in a car more than anything else at first glance? It’s not the engine or infotainment system, since those are out of sight. It’s the exterior auto paint. Here is a fun piece which outlines the history of car paint. Its origins extend as far back as automobiles themselves.

Examining the History of Car Paint

You have probably run a paint brush over the walls in your home, but never over your car. Painting by hand, though, was how workers applied auto paint in the early 1900s. Completing this cumbersome process averaged about 40 days. They first applied the same variety of varnish as that used for horse carriages.

Manufacturers introduced spray guns in 1924. This breakthrough enabled quicker application and drying time on assembly lines. The finish was also more consistent, thus minimizing the need to sand between coats. Continue Reading →

Why Aluminum Frame Repair Is Trickier than Steel Repair

aluminum frame repairSome modern car manufacturers use aluminum for the frame of the car. This material is lighter than stainless steel. The lighter the vehicle’s dry weight the better its MPG. Despite this enormous benefit, aluminum is not without a major drawback. Aluminum frame repair is a more laborious and time-intensive process than frame repair for other materials.

Why Aluminum Frame Repair Is More Difficult

Unlike steel, aluminum does not have “metal memory.” Steel can actually be restored to its original shape with carefully applied pressure. This simple and quick process does not work with aluminum. The reformation process for aluminum is much more cumbersome.

Aluminum also has a more pronounced reaction to heat than steel. The former is more difficult to weld becaiuse heat travels farther and faster through aluminum. Welding aluminum requires commercial tools that only some auto body repair shops own. Continue Reading →

4 Parking Strategies for Avoiding Car Dents

avoiding car dentsRoughly half of all car dents occur on a parking lot, at least based on our observation. It’s commonplace for clients to bring their cars to our auto body repair shop and complain about the new dent that occurred at the grocery store. In the past, we talked about how to prevent dents from runaway shopping carts. This time around, we’ll discuss parking strategies for avoiding car dents.

Prevent Car Dents By Using These Parking Tips

1. Park Far Away

People have a tendency to look for a parking spot nearest to the store. We recommend the opposite. The faraway spots are usually vacant and will remain so when you return. Sure, you’ll have to walk a few extra paces, but just consider it exercise.

2. Parallel Park

Most drivers avoid parallel parking spots like the plague. That’s understandable given they can be a bit tricky. However, you eliminate the possibility of another car’s being parked next to yours. Granted, there is the chance of getting a dent in the front or rear. Bumpers, though, can generally escape unscratched if they’re hit by a vehicle going below 5 mph. Continue Reading →

Dent Repair on a Leased Car

dent repair on a leased carIt’s not unusual for people to come to us with a dent on a leased car and ask us if they would get dinged by the dealership. Of course, various factors come into play, such as the extent of the dent and the terms of the lease contract. We will say, though, that more often than not, you are responsible for dent repair on a leased car. This also includes other damages, such as scratched auto paint, corrosion, and stained upholstery.

When Are You Responsible?

Most lease agreements state that you are responsible for damages other than what would be considered “normal wear and tear.” So, what distinguishes between normal and excessive? Under most contracts, excess wear is defined as a dent or scratch that cannot fit inside a two-inch circle.

We have also heard that some inspectors will let scratches and dents slide as long as the damage can fit inside a rectangle the size of a credit card. However, we prefer to play it safe. We caution car lessees to address any damage bigger than two inches. Continue Reading →

Hail Damage Repair on Your Car

Hail Damage RepairHail storms aren’t unheard of in the Bellevue area. The ice that falls from the sky is fairly small and hardly ever the golf-ball-size variety. Nevertheless, they can cause scratches and dents on your parked vehicle. Worry not, though, car hail damage can easily be restored by our auto repair service. You may even be able to remove some of the dents on your own using DIY dent removal methods, but we recommend hiring a professional service.

Hail Damage Repair / DIY Method 1: Sunlight

This is the simplest method provided the weather allows for it. All you have to do is park your car in open sunlight. The heat from the sunray will cause the dented metal to expand and pop back into its original shape.

If it’s a sunless day, then you can use a blow dryer. Hold the dryer about five inches from the dent and blow for about two minutes. Repeat the two minute intervals as needed until the dent is restored.

Hail Damage Repair / DIY Method 2: Dry Ice

Just as heat can restore dents, so can sub-zero temperatures. Rub a small block of dry ice over the dent. The sudden and extreme drop in temperature should cause the dent to pop back in place. You can usually acquire dry ice at general retailers like Walmart or Target. Continue Reading →

The Smart Way to Teach Your Teenager to Drive

Teaching Teen to DriveWe can’t tell you how many times clients have brought in a car dented by their teenage son or daughter. Due to their inexperience, teens often cause minor mishaps, such as backing up on the garbage bin, or hitting the side wall of a garage. These cause visible dents and scratches that our auto body repair service can fix. Ultimately, teen drivers learn from experience. Since they get their lessons from you, we thought we might provide a short guide on teaching your teenager to drive.

Teach Your Teen to Drive for Long-Term Success

Let us start by saying that we are strongly against the whole sink or swim mindset. This means your teen’s first time behind the wheel shouldn’t be on the road. Start in an empty parking lot. In the beginning, lessons should be about getting acquainted with the vehicle—how much gas and brake to apply, how it turns, etc. We recommend limiting the first session to no more than 10 minutes.

Repeat driving lessons in an empty parking lot until the student feels confident enough take the car on the road. Each subsequent lesson should also introduce a new skill to practice, such as driving in reverse or parallel parking.

Once your student is ready for the road, establish a route to travel. Keep non-instructional chatter to a minimum, though music is fine if it helps your teen relax. Allow him to drive at his own pace as long as it’s not impeding traffic. You can also quiz him during this time. Randomly ask him what the speed limit is, or how to proceed if there’s a bicyclist up ahead. Continue Reading →

Protect Your Auto Paint with a Mud Flap

Mud Flaps │ Bellevue │ BodyWorks Auto RebuildOur clients are always coming to our auto paint department for advice on how to preserve their car’s paintjob. It really comes down to prevention and not exposing the paint to environmental and man-made elements. This is precisely why we often advise our clients to install mud flaps, especially if they routinely take their vehicle for an off-road spin.

How Mud Flaps Work

Mud flaps, also called splash guards, are flaps installed behind the tires. They’re a common add-on accessory on full-size pickup trucks and SUVs. As suggested in their name, the flaps protect your car from collecting mud and dirt. This includes other road elements like salt, tar, and slush. It also protects your car from nicks and dents caused by flying pebbles kicked up by the tires.

Is mud damaging to your auto paint? A bit of mud isn’t going to ruin the paintwork, especially if it’s immediately hosed away. However, if you let the mud sit on the surface over a period of days, then it could corrode the paint. Mud is essentially made up of clay, which has abrasive properties.

Some of our clients actually and purposefully leave the mud on their vehicles for a few days. Apparently, a mud-stained vehicle is a sign of a rugged car that earned its reputation as on off-roader. We completely understand the reasoning behind this. However, for the sake of your paintjob, we highly recommend washing the mud away immediately. Continue Reading →

Can You Wash Your Car with Dish Soap?

Dish Soap for Car WashOne of the questions customer ask a lot is whether it’s okay to wash a car with dish soap. Using dish soap does appear logical; it is, after all, typically cheaper than car soap. Here’s what our auto body repair crew has to say about using dish liquid for cleaning an automobile.

Dish Soap for Car Washing

Sure, it may be economical, but dish soap should NOT be used for washing your car. Here’s the simple reason: dish soap is abrasive. It’s designed for removing heavy grease and bits of lasagna melted onto a pan. When applied on a car surface, the abrasive soap accelerates the oxidation process, giving the paint a dull and faded look. If the car has been recently waxed, the soap will also break down the coating.

One more thing: in case you’re also wondering about laundry detergent or regular bath soap, you can forget about those, too. These soaps do not contain the right pH balance and can also cause premature damage to the auto paint.

If you want to clean your car while preserving the paint, then stick with soap that’s actually designed for automobiles. Car soap contains more lubricant, and the overall formula is better for the vehicle’s surface. Continue Reading →