3 Key Rights All Drivers Have After an Accident

Posted by Chris Medine on Apr 29, 2019 6:33:00 PM

3 rightsHopefully, you never find yourself involved in an auto accident and never need any of the following information.  Unfortunately, however, many drivers are involved in accidents each day.  Unaware of the repair process and the inner workings of their insurance provider, these drivers will often find themselves confused and overwhelmed by it all and completely unaware of the power of choice available to them.  If you do end up in the unfortunate situation of a car accident, keep the following rights in mind:

You Have the Right to Choose Your Repair Shop

Insurance companies maintain relationships with some auto body shops as part of a direct repair program.  It is often suggested that these arrangements benefit consumers with a quicker repair, but they often require the shop to cut corners to maintain profitability. In the end, drivers are often left with hasty repairs and aftermarket parts that don’t fit quite right.  Fortunately, everyone has the right to choose where their car is repaired, even if that shop is not endorsed by the insurance company.  Likewise, you also have the right to choose your tow company and rental car provider.

You Have the Right to Original Manufacturer’s Parts

If you want replacement parts from your original car manufacturer, choose an insurance policy that guarantees OEM parts. If your policy doesn't guarantee OEM parts, you still have the right to request them.  However, keep in mind that you could be asked to share the repair cost.  Weigh the options and determine for yourself which is the best way to go, and let your claims adjuster and collision center know.

You Have the Right to Multiple Repair Quotes

You are not legally obligated to get more than one estimate for your vehicle repairs.  However, you have the right to get as many quotes as you choose in search for the best repair shop.  Keep factors such as quality of parts and experience of technicians in mind as you make your decision, and remember that the cheapest quote may cost you more in the long run. 

These are just three of the consumer rights of which all drivers should be aware.  If you ever find yourself overwhelmed following an auto accident, contact the accident advisors at Medines and learn more about all of your rights and the claims and repair process.  We are happy to help.

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Steps in the Auto Body Repair Process: From Accident to Completion

Posted by Chris Medine on Apr 19, 2019 1:36:00 PM

repair processFrom the moment you are involved in an accident, there begins a long and detailed process to get your vehicle repaired and you back on the road.  Any missteps can prolong this process and add to your headache.  However, by understanding exactly how it all unfolds and what to expect at each step along the way, you can help minimize frustration and delays.

Step 1: Car Accident

It all obviously begins at the moment of collision.  From the second your car is struck, there are some important steps you should immediately take that will help protect you and move things along in the coming days.  As soon as you can do so safely, it is important to complete each of the following

  • Check on passengers and other drivers to ensure their safety
  • Exchange insurance and contact information with all parties involved
  • Call police to the scene for a written report
  • Take photos all vehicles and the damage sustained

Step 2: Having Your Car Towed

Depending on the severity of the accident and the extend of damage, you may not be able to drive your vehicle away from the scene.  In this case, you’ll need to have your car towed to an auto body shop of your choosing.  Remember that company that tows your car, as well as where they tow it to, is completely up to you.

Step 3: Getting Collision Repair Estimates

Once at the body shop, the repair process will begin with an estimate of cost based on the work and parts needed.  This will involve both your chosen repair shop and your insurance company’s adjuster.  Based on the final numbers, your insurance provider will determine whether or not the level of damage exceeds the value of your car (this is different than how much you owe).  If it does, the vehicle will be declared a total loss, and you will be issued a check for the vehicle’s estimated value (this amount is negotiable, so don’t settle right away).  If damages are less than the value of the car, repairs can be approved and work can begin.

Step 4: Repairing Your Vehicle

Once you authorize the estimated repairs, work on your vehicle can begin.  Your collision center should remain in contact with you throughout this process, giving you updates on the status of the work and filling you in on any changes or new problems that may arise.  It isn’t uncommon for underlying damage to be found over the course of repair and amendments made to the original quote.  If you were at-fault for the accident, you will also be in contact with your insurance company during this time to determine what you owe based on your coverage.  Often, this amount is simply your deductible.  If another party was at-fault, their insurance provider will cover the cost of repairs.

Step 5: Finalizing Your Vehicle’s Repairs

Once the work on your car is complete, you will be able to pick up your vehicle from the auto body shop.  Before driving away, give your car a quick inspection to make sure everything has been completed to your satisfaction.  Look for things such as mismatched paint or parts that don’t seem to fit quite right, and bring any issues to the shop’s attention before you leave.

While the auto body repair process may seem confusing, it is actually a fairly straightforward process, particularly when you have the right team in your corner.  In the Baton Rouge area, Medines Collision Center has been advising drivers and providing quality repairs for decades.  To find out how we can help you, contact our shop and request a free estimate.

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How is My Auto Insurance Company "Steering" Me?

Posted by Chris Medine on Mar 20, 2019 10:57:26 AM

insurance steeringSteering and cars go hand-in-hand, but steering and your auto insurance provider should not.  While steering your vehicle can keep you on course, being steered by your insurer can lead you down a path of lower quality auto body repairs. 

What is Auto Insurance “Steering”?

When your car insurance company “steers” you, they are directing you toward a chosen body shop where they would prefer your repairs be completed.  These are known as Direct Repair Programs, or DRPs.  While you have the right to choose any collision center you would like, there are certain tactics that your insurer may use to encourage the choice of a DRP.  This may include claims that the work will be completed more quickly at a DRP or that they will not guarantee the work of a non-DRP shop.  These classic steering techniques are just a couple of those used to ensure you choose their preferred shop and save them money as a result.

What are Direct Repair Programs?

An auto body shop who participates as a DRP has entered into an agreement with insurance providers.  For the shop and insurance company, this relationship can be mutually beneficial to both businesses.  Insurance companies send the body shop business, and the body shop provides repairs within a negotiated budget.  In fact, the only party who does not stand to benefit from a DRP relationship is the consumer.

Why Do Car Insurance Companies “Steer” Clients?

Although DRP repairs often mean lower levels of quality and safety, insurers continue to maintain these relationships for one simple reason: profit.  By negotiating lower rates for parts and labor with a DRP participating shop, the company can be certain to keep their costs low and minimize the impact auto body repairs have on their bottom line.  Unfortunately, in order to meet these budget guidelines, collision centers will then turn to lower quality parts and hastily performed repairs.

How Does Auto Insurance “Steering” Hurt Clients?

You pay for car insurance and auto maintenance in an effort to keep your vehicle in good working order and to help ensure the safety of yourself and your passengers.  When an insurer steers you to using a shop that they know values quantity over quality, they are taking away the reliability of your vehicle and impeding your own safety as a driver. 

Steering and the related consequences are perfect examples of why it is so important for drivers to exercise their right of choice.  Regardless of what your insurance company may say, you have the right to choose all of your providers, from towing company to body shop, following an accident.

In Baton Rouge, Medines Collision Center is the auto advisor you can trust.  We have decades of experience in auto body repair and insurance negotiations.  We are familiar with their many steering tactics and refuse to participate in any type of DRP.  Instead, we believe quality repairs and consumer education are the best gifts we can give our clients.  

know your rights guide

Topics: Insurance

Insurance Photo Apps: The Hidden Dangers

Posted by Chris Medine on Mar 15, 2019 10:22:00 AM

Closeup of female hand using a smart phone. Shallow depth of fieldYou’ve probably always heard that you should take pictures of your vehicle’s damage immediately following an accident.  It’s a logical step in a defined process that consists of claims adjusters, insurance companies, and body shops.  Today, however, some insurers are attempting to circumvent certain steps in this process by rolling those consumer photos and the adjuster’s job all into one.

 

How do Insurance Photo Apps Work?

Photo apps are among the latest products promoted by auto insurance companies.  Along the lines of self-service car washes and self-checkouts at the grocery store, these apps are putting responsibility directly into the hands of consumers.  Rather than sending out an insurance adjuster to assess the damage and engage with your collision center in a dialogue surrounding your vehicle and repairs, these apps allow consumers to upload their photos directly and receive claim estimates and even checks based on the images.

What’s the Problem with Insurance Photo Apps?

Unfortunately, unlike your grocery store’s self-checkout, insurance photo apps can end up being not only less convenient, but costly in the long run.  It is impossible for anyone to fully assess the damage and associated cost of a vehicle through photos or video alone.  Not only does the average driver not know exactly what damage to look for, there is often underlying damage that is unknown until parts of the car are removed. 

Most frightening, some unaware consumers accept claim settlements based on their photos.  Once your claim is settled, you have forfeited the ability to get a larger payout, even if your vehicle’s damage is determined to be more extensive and costly once in the shop.

Your Auto Insurance Rights

Even if your insurer provides products such as photo apps, you are not obligated to use them.  You have the right to have your vehicle seen by an adjuster and to negotiate your claim, just as you have the right to choose your own collision center.

At Medines Collision Center, we encounter insurance tactics to lower claims daily.  We understand all the ins and outs of the process, as well as what a quality repair of your vehicle will actually cost.  If you feel intimidated or unsure about the claims process following an accident, let us be your advisors.  Contact Medines to learn more about what we can do to help.

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Topics: Insurance

5 Surprising Factors that Affect Car Insurance Rates

Posted by Chris Medine on Feb 26, 2019 12:05:39 PM

5 surprising factors that affect car insurance ratesPurchasing car insurance is a major component of owning a vehicle. Not only does it help protect you and your assets in the event of an accident, it’s also required by law.  Still, that doesn’t make paying those premiums any easier, particularly in Louisiana, where they are 56 percent higher than the national average. 

As it turns out, there are several factors that go into determining just how much protecting your vehicle will cost you, some of which are beyond your control. Read on to find out what might be factoring into your rate and what you can do to lower costs.

Gender, Age, and Car Insurance Rates

Younger people – those in their teens and early twenties – tend to have higher car insurance rates because of their lack of experience behind the wheel and higher risk of being involved in an accident. Young males are statistically involved in accidents more often than their female counterparts; therefore, their rates are higher. However, older men generally have better rates than older women. Some evidence suggests that older women get into more accidents than men, though the difference isn’t significant.

Marital Status and Auto Insurance

Married couples tend to get into fewer accidents than singles; therefore, getting married could significantly lower your rate if you have a clean driving history. If you are a man who has never gotten into an accident, you could see your rate almost cut in half.

Credit Score Impact on Car Insurance

Your credit score can also be used to determine your car insurance rate. In general, lower credit scores mean higher insurance premiums and higher scores mean lower premiums.  This can be attributed the perceived financial risks associated with a lower credit score.

Vehicle Size and Insurance Cost

Larger vehicles are more likely to provide protection in the event of an accident. If your car has a good safety rating, the premium is most likely much lower than that of smaller cars. Cars with larger engines relative to their size will generally have much higher premiums as well.

Car’s Age and Insurance Premiums

Older cars are likely to require an expensive amount of repairs in the event of an accident. Most people opt to buy a new vehicle instead of shelling out more money than the older car is worth. Because of this and the fact that newer cars are not as likely to be ‘totaled,’ new cars generally have much higher collision rates.

Regardless of the premiums associated with your own auto insurance, the end goal is always the same: to keep you safe on the road.  At Medines Collision Center, we are experts in not only auto body repair, but auto insurance and claims.  If you’ve been in an accident and are overwhelmed by the process, we can help!

 

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Topics: Insurance

3 Key Considerations for Auto Frame Repairs

Posted by Chris Medine on Jan 29, 2019 4:59:00 PM

Auto Frame Repair in Baton RougeThough no one wants to see it happen, there are times when damage from an accident goes all the way to your vehicle’s core. Also called the chassis, your car’s frame is essentially its skeleton. It is what everything else is built upon. So, when seeking auto frame repairs in Baton Rouge, you should seek a shop that offers experienced technicians, computerized measuring equipment, and trustworthy advice.

Experienced Technicians for Auto Frame Repairs

Let’s start with the experienced technicians. Everything in your vehicle starts with the frame and works its way out. If anything is wrong with the repair of the frame, that error will trickle down to every other stage of repair. So, you need someone who can know from the outset if the damaged frame can be bent or stretched back into place, needs to have a section replaced, or needs a whole new frame. We have been asked before why everything can’t just be bent back to the way it was. The answer is, when metal bends or gets mangled, it may stretch as well. When this happens, it can’t be squeezed or contracted back to its previous shape without affecting the integrity or stability of it. This means the frame would be less sturdy in the event of a future accident. There are also crumple zones to consider. A car’s uni-body frame is built with crumple zones in mind as a way to absorb the impact in a manner that protects the passengers. An experienced technician can spot the difference and respond accordingly.

Computerized Measurements for Auto Frame Repairs

You’ve heard the old carpentry phrase, “measure twice, cut once.” Well, it means even more when it comes to frame work. Everything from gas mileage to passenger safety is literally and figuratively riding on your vehicle’s frame. If you don’t start with a computerized frame machine to make accurate measurements, you run the risk of throwing off your car’s alignment, aerodynamics, or the crumple zones we previously mentioned.

Advice for Auto Frame Repairs

 This brings us to trustworthy advice, which is just as important as making sure the repairs are done right. Why? Because when it comes to frame work, you need a body shop that will be up front and honest about the course of action that is needed. A new frame is a very expensive and labor intensive process. If your vehicle needs frame work as the result of an accident, it is almost guaranteed that there is other work needed as well. This means that if you have a later model vehicle of a more economical vehicle, the likelihood that your car will be totaled goes up. A car is totaled when the estimated cost of damages exceeds 75% of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) value of the vehicle.

Right off the bat, this means that if you have a vehicle worth less than $40 thousand, it will probably be totaled. The reason this falls back on trustworthy advice is that if your car probably should be totaled, you don’t want to run the risk of a mechanic quoting a rate that is below 75% only to go back later an attempt to add additional charges. This will lead to headaches with your insurance company and drag out the process of getting you back on the road in a new vehicle.

 From the labor intensive side of a new frame, it is a very long process. First, there’s getting the new frame. This isn’t something that can be handled by the Postal Service, UPS of FedEx. Once the new frame is on site, the work has only just begun. Many customers like to check in on their vehicle throughout the repair process, and generally, that’s a good thing. But, in the case of a new frame, we advise against it. At Medines, we remind our customers that your car is going to “look worse before it looks better.” Seeing your vehicle before its ready, or even far enough along in the process, can be disheartening. That means, you need to trust that the shop fixing it is doing their job. We understand this is an enormous level of trust, and we go to great lengths not to betray that trust.

 When faced with needing frame work, we know and understand everything that goes into repairing the frame. We know that every repair we do to the body and every other piece inside starts with getting the frame right. We also understand that this is a very stressful time for you, having just been in an accident. That is why we treat it with the utmost importance to either get you back on the road in your vehicle’s pre-accident condition, or help you through the process of having your car totaled so you can be on your way to a new vehicle.

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Renting a Car After an Auto Accident: What You Should Know

Posted by Chris Medine on Jan 25, 2019 10:39:00 AM

renting a car after a wreck

The days, weeks, and even months following a car wreck can be a difficult time.  There are insurance matters to sort through, vehicles that need to be repaired, and possibly even medical appointments and bills that must be taken care of.  The added strain can be a lot to handle, especially when left suddenly without transportation. 

Of the millions of accidents that occur each year, many require extensive repairs,  with between 15 and 20% being declared a total loss.  For the motorists who find themselves in this situation, the additional time without a vehicle leaves them with few other options than a rental car.  However, determining how to get a rental and the associated cost may not always be clear.  Here is what you need to know before securing your rental:

Will My Insurance Cover the Cost of My Rental?

If you have opted in for rental reimbursement coverage through your auto insurance provider, you will be covered up to a set daily allotment for a rental car.  In some cases, you may find that your insurance company has an agreement with a particular rental car facility.  This does not require you to use them.  Much like where you choose to have your car repaired, the choice of what company to use for your rental is up to you.  If you find that your insurance company’s recommended provider is unable to get a rental to you in a timely manner, you have the right to choose another.  

If the accident was the fault of another party and you do not have rental reimbursement coverage, the insurance of the at-fault driver will be responsible for your rental car.  To authorize this rental, the insurance company will first determine liability, a process which could take several days.

 How Long Can I Keep My Rental Car?

This is determined by the company paying for your rental car.  Typically, the car is available to you until your repairs are completed.  If your car is determined to have been totaled, most companies will allow you to keep the rental for up to five days after your settlement offer has been accepted.

 What Do I Need To Obtain a Rental Car?

In order to obtain your rental, you should bring in your insurance coverage which, depending on your policy, may prevent you from having to buy insurance directly from the rental company.  You will also need a valid form of payment such as cash or credit and your driver’s license.

The time following a car wreck can be incredibly stressful and confusing.  Many aren’t aware of what steps to take next and how to ensure that they handle all aspects of the situation appropriately.  By leaving your vehicle in the capable hands of a collision repair center like Medines Collision Center, you can be confident in the quality of repairs and honesty of your technician.  Furthermore, by educating yourself and understanding how to secure a rental car, there will be no need to worry about transportation while your repairs are being completed.

If you have been in an accident, remember that you have the right to choose where your car is taken for repairs.  Medines is a leader in collision repair in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas, and our trustworthy and knowledgeable team of experts is here to help.  

know your rights guide

Topics: Insurance

Who Provides the Warranty for Collision Repair?

Posted by Chris Medine on Dec 6, 2018 4:27:00 PM

who provides warranty of collision repair

We’ve written previously about the relationship that many auto repair shops have with particular insurance companies.  This relationship, known as a direct repair program (DRP), is one in which your insurance company and collision center may both benefit.  You, however, may not.  Ultimately, the goal of the insurance company will be to keep costs as low as possible.  The shops which agree to work with them on their terms are rewarded by having motorists steered their way by the insurance provider following an accident. 

The tactics used to convince a driver that the DRP shop is the best option may vary, but there are some which remain fairly consistent.  One of the most common misconceptions that policyholders have after speaking with their insurance company is that their repairs will not be covered under warranty if they do not choose a DRP facility.  This may play as a deciding factor for some when choosing where to have their vehicle repaired.  However, the simple fact is that your insurance company will not warranty your repairs, only pay for them. 

Collision Centers Provide Their Own Warranty

Reputable repair facilities take pride in their work and stand behind it.  Shops such as Medine’s Collision Center who do not enter into DRP relationships with insurance companies are solely focused on and held accountable by the consumer.  Customers will not find these facilities through their insurance companies but rather through recommendations based on their reputation, customer service, and commitment to quality.

This type of shop will not only provide high levels of customer service, complete in-house repairs, and an in-depth knowledge of insurance policy and procedure, they will also completely guarantee their own repair work.  As we mentioned before, the insurance company will not provide the warranty of any repair parts.  Instead, it is the responsibility of the repair provider to guarantee their own work.  Facilities like Medine’s Collision Center will provide a lifetime written warranty for your repair and guarantee your satisfaction.

When you find yourself in need of collision repair services, keep in mind that you have a choice for your auto body repair.  Your insurance company must allow you to take your vehicle to the shop of your choice and still pay for the repair as dictated by your policy.  If you choose a shop outside of their DRP network, you will not be sacrificing the warranty of your repair.  Simply choose a reputable facility that is dedicated to their work and your satisfaction.

If you are currently seeking an auto body repair specialist, call Medine’s Collision Center.  We believe in the highest level of customer service and quality repair, and we can help you navigate confusing insurance processes.  Call us at (225) 357-7983, or click here to request a free estimate

If you would like to learn more about Medine’s, click the image below to learn “10 Reasons to Choose Medine’s Collision” with our free guide.

10 reasons to choose medines

Topics: Collision Repair

How to Care for Your Car's Battery & Why it's Important

Posted by Chris Medine on Nov 16, 2018 12:52:00 PM

car battery maintenanceIf you’ve ever needed someone to “jump” your car, then you know the importance of a car battery. It provides electrical power to most elements on your vehicle – seat heaters, brake lights, starter motor, and more. The need for a new battery can place you in a costly and urgent situation. While all batteries will eventually die, there are a few things you can do increase its longevity.

Preserve the Life of Your Car Battery

When parking and turning off your car, do not leave any lights on or electronics plugged in, as that will drain your battery. As temperatures drop, run your car for at least 30 minutes every day to charge the battery. On the other hand, when spring arrives, it is smart to bring your battery in to be checked to see if any damage has resulted from the winter. Parking your car in cooler temperatures, even if that just means choosing a shadier spot, is better for the battery than warmer ones, especially during the peak of summer. Batteries are more susceptible to corrosion in the heat, therefore it is wise to have your battery checked before any long summer trips!

Maintaining Your Car Battery

Cleaning your battery regularly can also increase its lifespan. Whether you clean it yourself or hire the help of a professional, there are certain steps to take to ensure safety and success. Make sure to wear protective eyewear, take off all jewelry, and keep the area smoke-free. The first step is to clean and inspect the case by wiping it with paper towels and a mild detergent. Next, check the electrolyte level. If the level is low, distilled water can be added. When checking the terminals, if corrosion is present, combine equal amounts of baking soda and water to clear out the corrosion and then rinse with water.

Removal and installation of the battery can be a bit trickier. Remember to always remove the cable from the negative battery terminal first and then the positive and to install them the opposite way – with positive cable first and then negative. It is important to note that some vehicles lose most presets and program memory upon the removal of the battery. It is best to consult your owner’s manual beforehand.

Though keeping up with these do-it-yourself preventative actions helps to increase the life of your battery, it is still advisable to have an automotive service professional step in to test your vehicle’s battery at least once a year. If your starter motor starts to slow down when cranking the engine, your car’s headlights become dimmer, or the battery waning lamp is on, take it in for a check, as it most likely needs to be replaced soon.

At Medines Collision Center, we care about your safety and that of your vehicle.  This includes advising on any steps you can take to keep your vehicle road-worthy and prevent a potential accident.  However, in the unfortunate event that an accident does occur, we are here for that too.  Contact our office with any questions and to request a free repair estimate.

 10 reasons to choose medines

 

Post-Collision Repair Checklist: Tips from a Baton Rouge Body Shop

Posted by Chris Medine on Oct 29, 2018 1:32:00 PM

repair checklistNo matter which collision center you choose to handle your repair, it is always wise to inspect the finished work and thoroughly review the bill before leaving the body shop. At Medines Collision Center, we make every effort to ensure that your repair is exceptional. We want to ensure that your car looks, feels, and drives as you expect.  However, we also firmly believe that consumers should be fully prepared no matter which collision center they choose.  For that reason, we’ve compiled a helpful checklist of steps to take when receiving your newly repaired vehicle, whether from Medines or any other collision center.  Following these steps will help ensure that you not only understand your car’s repairs, but that they have also been done well.

Inspect your auto repair bill for accuracy and completion 

Always inspect the repair bill at the time of pick up. It should reflect all structural repairs made, frame and alignment spec sheets, and parts used in the repair process. Additionally, the bill should include an itemized list of parts and types of parts installed (used, aftermarket, rebuilt, or factory). 

Inspect Your Newly Repaired Vehicle 

Always inspect the physical condition of the vehicle. The key area of focus will obviously be the areas of the car that were repaired.  Make sure the doors, hood, and truck open and close smoothly, and compare the panels on either side of the vehicle.  Take note of how they fit against the body and if there are any sizeable gaps.

Inspect Auto Body Paint 

Always inspect the painted panels. Make sure the paint matches with the rest of the body and there are no obvious differences. Check for dust and imperfections by inspecting the paint at an angle. The paint should be smooth and perfect. A great suggestion is to park the vehicle in different lighting, such as sunlight, where visibility may be heightened.

Additionally, it is wise to check non-painted areas for any spots that may have been "over-painted.” Check the windows, body side moldings, rims, chromed panels, and any other areas that should not have been painted. If the paint job was done properly, these items would have been masked or removed before painting.

Inspect the Vehicle’s Electrical Parts 

Always check the electrical parts of a newly repaired vehicle. It is a good idea to ensure that the taillights, side markers, turn signals, and other electrical components are working properly. Sometimes, as items are removed and replaced in the repair process, wiring can be disconnected or severed. If it worked before you brought it in, then you want to make sure it still is, especially if a panel has been removed. If a battery has been removed in the repair process, your radio may be turned off and you may need a security code to get it working again. Try and spot any electrical hassles before leaving the collision center.

If you find a problem after you’ve taken your car home, be sure to get it back to the shop immediately. The longer you wait, the less likely that body shop will take your concern seriously.  

When it comes to collision repair in Baton Rouge, there are many different options. At Medines Collision Center, we frequently inspect the work of other shops on behalf of customers and sometimes repair the mistakes made by others.  Our only concern is that your repairs were done safely and properly. If you have concerns regarding the workmanship on your vehicle, please call or stop by for a full inspection. 


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Topics: Collision Repair