Cheapest Estimate?

business man with a dollar symbolAren’t insurance companies always just looking for the cheapest estimate?

My experience with auto insurance claims has been, almost without exception, positive. While having to go through the claims process is often stressful for the owner of a damaged car, the auto insurance industry continues to evolve to serve the needs of their clients and claimants alike.

Gone are the days when your insurance company tells you to “get 3 estimates” when you call in with a claim. Typically, insurance companies are now implementing their own “in-house” appraisal services, or even better, are employing independent appraisal services to provide fair, complete estimates of collision damage. The benefit of professional, full-time damage appraisers is the same as in any specialized discipline. The old adage “practice makes perfect” applies to estimates just the same as completing the actual collision repairs.

In the old days, body shops would purposely miss items to produce the lowest estimate, and then add those items back on the final bill in the form of supplemental charges. The shop benefitted at the cost of the customer and their insurance. This process added unnecessary down-time and rental car costs to the job. Hidden damage is sometimes unavoidable, but purposely shorting the estimate is wasteful and unethical.

Much better is today’s standard of professionally detailed collision damage estimates. This benefits everyone with complete information on what is involved for a correct repair. I have yet to see an insurance company prosper by “short-sheeting” their customer.

Big Guy!

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Can Jay’s Body Shop fix my car as good as larger body shops; you know the “big guy”?

Yes, I can. In fact, I would take the quality of my repairs one step further; I fix yours as if it were my own.

Judging from the many poor repairs that I’ve had to do over for my customers through the years, I think my system serves your needs better than most large, commercial shops. The better collision technicians are paid on a commission basis. This means the more they do, the more they are paid. In general, this is a great motivator for the shop owner, as well as the tech. The problem is this also can be a motivator to go too fast, thereby short-changing customers where they don’t think the customer will ever know the difference. I think the most blatant example of going too fast is shoddy paint prep, which you often see the result of in paint flaking, peeling, and mis-matched repaired areas. Hourly paid employees are often the the ones who are just learning the trade. They suffer from the opposite end of the spectrum; body and paint work is often hard and tedious, and if the tech isn’t compensated properly, they simply don’t care about doing quality work. Not all shops suffer from these problems, but how can you know which are good, and which aren’t so good? Body shop techs are rather notorious for being a transient bunch, moving from shop to shop, so a good shop five years ago may have an entirely new staff today.

My approach to collision repair is centered around you, the customer. It’s a simple “one-horse” operation that is focused on satisfying each and every customer, one at a time. I don’t have to support expensive prime real estate, invest in radio and television advertising, or pay commissioned or hourly employees either one. Your repair dollars are spent on repairing YOUR car. It’s as easy as that. My 35 years of experience is all yours, when you need it the most, to restore your car to pre-accident condition just like I would do my own.

Rust: Can you fix it?

 

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It depends on the source of the rust, and your definition of the word “fix”. There are basically 2 types of automotive rust; surface rust and structural rust. Chemically, rust is simply iron ore, from which steel is made, combining with oxygen and returning to its natural state. Rust can be prevented by keeping oxygen from contacting steel.

 Surface rust comes from things like stone chips and scratches that expose the metal to oxygen.This type of rust is repairable. The paint damage is reversed, and the rust is permanently fixed.

Structural rust comes from the design of how auto bodies are put together. Steel panels are joined together by welding, of which the most common form is the “pinch” weld. The basic flaw here is that pinch welds will not be successful if there are any contaminants present (such as internal rust preventatives) where the weld is attempted. The best that can be done, after welding, is to attempt to coat the weld by either dipping the part in a rust preventative, or spraying on a product called “E-coat” (electro-statically charged primer coating). Auto manufacturers have only marginal success preventing rust. Neither of these processes are practical after a car has been assembled. The cost would exceed the value of the car.

 So now let’s define “fix”. What other shops sometimes sell as “fixing rust”, I call “putting a band-aid on cancer.” If you mean cut out the metal around the brown holes and weld metal in its place, this indeed can be done. However; this is only, at best, a temporary repair. This process has in fact multiplied the areas where steel panels are lapped together, with little or no chance of rust preventative coatings sealing out contact with oxygen. Instead of “fixing” the rust, they have effectively accelerated and enlarged the problem. It may look better for weeks or a few months at best,but the natural processes occurring underneath will soon displace the fillers and paints that cover such areas. 

Personally, I do not “fix” rust on my own personal vehicles. Why? Because even when I can “fix” my rust for free, it works against me in the long run. I waste time, materials, and ultimately I am accelerating the problem. 

The only REAL way to fix rust is to replace entire components (doors, fenders, etc.) with new ones. If unibody components (rocker panels,floor boards, etc.) are rusted, the cost of replacement usually exceeds the value of the vehicle.