5 Ways To Prepare Your Car For Winter

5 Ways To Prepare Your Car For Winter

Winter is just around the corner, and it’s time to start making preparations. Unless you are lucky enough to live in a place where it never snows, you will certainly need to take a few precautions to make sure that your vehicle can make it through the rough months ahead. In this article, we will go over five of the things that you really need to do (right now) in order to prepare your car for the winter.

1. Get An Engine Tune-Up

When it’s cold outside, the oil in your engine will become thicker. This isn’t a huge problem, but it does make it harder to start the car. At this point, any little problem in your engine or ignition system will make the situation worse. All of these problems might combine to create a situation where your vehicle won’t start at all.

A tune-up can include a lot of things, as it’s just a general term for preventative maintenance. The job might include replacement of filters, spark plugs, spark plug wires, replacement of the distributor cap and/or its internal rotor, oxygen sensors, or PCV valves. Talk to your mechanic and make sure that all of your vehicle’s needs are met.

2. Replace All Fluids And Filters

If you think about it, there are quite a few liquids that we put into our vehicles. There’s oil (which isn’t really a liquid but functions like one), transmission fluid, brake fluid, radiator coolant, power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid, and your vehicle may have others. That’s a lot of liquid that could possibly freeze. Even if these substances do not freeze in the winter (and many of them do not), they will still become thicker and less able to move through the system quickly.

All of those liquids that we put into our cars tend to break down over time. This is just a natural consequence of those liquids having done their job. So, before winter gets here, you should immediately do an oil change, and change all of your other fluids as well.

3. Buy Some Fuel De-Icer

Ideally, you should always buy premium gas that is free of fillers. However, most of us just can’t afford to do that. For the vast majority of the population, regular gas is the norm. That means that your car will end up burning more than just gasoline. As you probably know, gasoline does not freeze. However, some of the filler substances will thicken or freeze.

You can deal with this problem before it happens by stocking up on fuel de-icer, also known as gas-line antifreeze. It’s not hard to use, either. All you have to do is empty the bottle into your gas tank once a month. Of course, the instructions could vary somewhat, depending on what brand you buy. Either way, this stuff can go a long way toward keeping your vehicle functioning well in the snowy winter months.

4. See To Your Windshield And Heater

Have you ever noticed that car heaters tend to stop working right when you need them most? Those things always seem to break down right around the time when the weather is at its coldest. If you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. The heater will be working its hardest during the coldest months, and that makes it more likely to break down. You can deal with this issue by getting your heating system inspected and repaired before you actually need to use the thing. That way, your heater can go into the winter fresh and prepared to do its job.

We should also talk about your windshield. Ice on the windshield is probably the most annoying thing about winter driving. Unless you feel like getting real familiar with that scraper, we would advise that you also have your defrosting system inspected and repaired if necessary. It should be mentioned that heating/defrost systems are not that complicated. If you are technically inclined, you might want to do some DIY work.

5. Check For And Correct Any Electrical Issues

You may already know this, but car batteries just don’t work as well during the winter. If you want to know why this is, take a look at the label on a car battery some time. You will see two sets of numbers marked “CA” and “CCA.” That first one stands for “cranking amps,” and it’s a measure of how much power the battery can put out at one time.

The numbers marked “CCA” stand for “cold cranking amps.” You will notice that the CCA number is always lower than the CA number. This is all the proof we need to understand that car batteries don’t put out as much power when they’re cold. That’s why you need to make sure that your battery (and everything to which it is connected) is in good shape before the weather gets cold.

You can buy an electrical tester, but most auto parts stores will check your electrical system for free. Make sure they check the battery, alternator, starter, and ignition coils. If even one of these parts stops working, it can cause the whole system to malfunction.


Even in the modern age, the weather still presents us with certain problems that must be overcome. There are some other things that you can do to prepare yourself and your vehicle for the winter. However, it would be outside the scope of this article to go into the entire list. We would recommend that you do some further reading, and you will see that we have given you the five most important points. We thank you for reading this article, and we ask that you do us one more favor and fill out the contact form below. That will enable us to continue educating you about all kinds of useful topics like this.

What Are Crash Parts?

What Are Crash Parts

You would think that crash parts would simply mean emergency exterior and interior parts needed for immediate replacement on a severely damaged vehicle. However, not all crash parts, otherwise known as cosmetic parts, are created equal. Many of these parts are looked at as aftermarket parts, or non-original equipment manufactured (Non-OEM). Crash parts are actually parts made through independent manufacturers who produce less costly replacement parts then OEMs, or original equipment manufacturers. 


 Many of these parts that are considered crash parts, or aftermarket parts, are divided into different categories. What constitutes a crash part? Here is a breakdown of parts. 

Crash Parts

 Crash parts are sheet metal or plastic parts installed on the exterior of a motor vehicle. When you speak of aftermarket parts, you are talking about non-original parts and non-original manufacturers. A “non-original manufacturer” is a manufacturer other than the original manufacturer. For example, an OEM, or original part, would be from a company that produces the gear shift, steering wheel, or tires that are placed on a new vehicle. They could be installed on a car, truck, or another type of vehicle as it goes down an assembly line in a car plant. 

Crash Parts/Aftermarket Parts

Again, most crash parts are both sheet metal and plastic parts. Auto body shops install these on the outside of a vehicle. These aftermarket parts usually include:

  • Hoods
  • Doors
  • Fenders
  • Bumper
  • Bumper accessories
  • Inner and outer panels

Aftermarket Crash Parts Certification

 CAPA, or the Certified Automotive Part Association, additionally categorizes aftermarket crash parts. This association assures the adaptability and quality of replacement or aftermarket parts. 

 To assess the quality of the parts, CAPA examines a host of different areas of a manufacturing plant. They assess the actual manufacturing process, the equipment used, and the final products produced. If the replacement parts meet specifications in their configurations, appearance, structure, composition, and mechanical processes, the aftermarket parts will rate a CAPA certification. If the parts are in line with new OEM parts, CAPA gives them their seal of approval. 

Mechanical Parts

 Those parts that are mechanical and not included within the crash parts category include:

  • Engine parts
  • Batteries
  • Filters
  • Shock Absorbers
  • Mufflers

Consumer Crash Parts Issues

 The latest trend when it comes to crash parts is repair shops involving consumers more in the repair process. When it comes to repairing a damaged vehicle, it boils down to whether or not an insurance company is going to pay for original equipment (OE) replacement parts or an alternative. Repair shops do their best to educate consumers as to what their rights are concerning the use of those parts.

Crash Parts Legislation

 In addition to shop owners going to bat for consumers, it seems that crash parts legislation has come into its own. Most states have put through legislation intending to inform vehicle owners of the steps involved in a collision repair, and the parts used. In addition, groups led by the Automotive Service Association determined at a recent meeting with repair service experts, insurers, consumer groups, and service-related industries that an across the board policy should make consumers aware of the following:

  • Consumers should be aware of the kinds of parts that auto body shops install in their vehicles.
  • Consumers should be aware that they have the right to authorize (in written form) what parts the auto body shop can use on their vehicle during the lifetime of that vehicle.

 In addition to the consumer protections, they placed a draft consent form under consideration. This consent form would inform the consumer of the kinds of parts that an auto body shop would use on their vehicles, along with a listing of the parts used in the repair. Once informed, consumers would be able to decide whether or not to use the parts selected. If a consumer chooses to agree to use the listed parts, he or she would sign the form. Another issue that arose was what parts an auto body shop would or wouldn’t use through a warranty period of a vehicle. The various groups did agree about a consumer’s right to know what type of parts an auto body shop would use. 

Different State Crash Parts Legislation

 Those that deal in collision repair also have a right to know what their state’s particular crash parts legislation entails. For example, the state of Washington requires that any transaction associated with an invoice must show whether any parts are used, rebuilt, aftermarket, or Non-OEM (body parts). 

 It’s important that consumers know what type of parts are being used in their vehicles and what their rights are when it comes to repairs. If you have questions regarding what your state may or may not require, or simply want to know more about crash parts, complete the online contact form. A parts expert will get back to you with the answers you need to understand your protections as a possible crash parts consumer.

How To Avoid Auto Body Insurance Fraud

How To Avoid Auto Body Insurance Fraud

It seems common knowledge today that some auto body repair shops have chosen a dishonest way to do business, and fraud has become part of the game with auto body work. There are ways to avoid both insurance fraud schemes and other scams, and the signs are definitely out there to watch for and be aware of in the collision repair racket. Here are some tips on how to deal with them.

Deductibles and Related Maneuvering

Be cautious when auto body shop personnel suggest that your deductible can be waived, buried or recovered. Your deductible could simply be hidden in an over inflated repair estimate, or in shop charges for more expensive original equipment parts that are then substituted with cheaper, damaged, counterfeit or previously repaired parts. You also need to watch out for services not given or parts paid for, but not installed. Inflated costs, switching out of parts, the inclusion of parts or neglect of services are unlawful in many instances.

More can happen when the body shop repairer misrepresents the actual damage and states that a vehicle is more seriously damaged than it actually is. This type of action is hiding repair costs from the insurer and including the deductible within the repair costs. Obviously, the repair costs have been increased and the body shop profits while the insurer is left with paying the manipulated repair costs and the deductible.

Tow Truck Connection

If you’ve been involved in an accident and your vehicle looks to be a serious contender for body work, you want to be cautious when an unsolicited tow truck driver shows up on the scene a little too quickly and attempts to get you and your vehicle to a repair shop right then and there. This is a ploy used by unscrupulous tow truck drivers as they charge outlandish fees for transport, plus they take your vehicle to a dishonest body shop that may hold your vehicle hostage with ever increasing fees and demands for insurance payments. Also, the tow truck driver may make a concerted effort to refer you to unethical health care providers and lawyers who make a living through fraudulent insurance scams.

Airbag Replacement

Believe it or not, this is just one other car repair scam that is both dangerous and expensive for insurers and policy holders. Faulty airbag replacement is really no replacement at all. Once an airbag has been deployed through an accident situation and is brought into a repair facility for replacement, mechanics simply neglect replacing the airbag with a new one and resort to stuffing the vacant airbag compartment with all kinds of junk materials like aluminum cans, packing peanuts and other materials, which will allow the airbag deployment sensors to function.

Another tactic that fraudulent mechanics use is the installation of an already used or stolen airbag. Once installed, the repair shop simply charges full price to the insurance company for a new airbag. There are even crooked shop owners who will attach an already used or deployed airbag to a steering wheel to create the appearance of an already deployed airbag when the one behind the steering column is still in perfectly good shape. This is just another tactic to increase the amount of an insurance claim.

In most instances, you’re not getting a new airbag and any bag that may be a replacement will likely be unusable and unworkable. With the prevalence of this kind of scam, some states have passed laws to protect consumers from faulty airbag replacement. If an airbag has been replaced with a defective one, those responsible could be penalized with prison time and high fines.

Glass Replacement Fraud

Another insurance fraud involves windshield and other vehicle glass replacement on your vehicle. If you are approached out of the blue by a so-called windshield or glass repair technician, be wary of what they are pitching and selling. They may try to convince you that your windshield needs to be replaced on the spot, and they may just have the perfect windshield replacement for your vehicle. You will likely be told that your car insurance will completely cover the replacement, and their replacement windshield will probably be one that has seen better days. Your insurance rates could be impacted by such a scheme, especially if a technician latches on to your car insurance information and uses it to make other replacement claims using your name and insurance. Falling for this scam could cost you your insurance coverage and a lousy windshield or glass replacement.

Watch for Chop Shops

Another problem with untrustworthy repair shops is their “side work” that usually involves taking on parts from stolen vehicles. You certainly don’t want to unknowingly put your damaged vehicle in a repair shop that is a front for a chop shop that has dismantled stolen vehicles and sold the parts to your repair shop. You don’t want stolen parts as replacements for your vehicle and the strong possibility of your insurance being overcharged for stolen parts.

A Word to the Wise

If you want to avoid auto body insurance fraud, you want to find an auto body shop that is ASE ( Automotive Service Excellence) accredited as well as one that is associated with other creditable organizations. You also want to find a shop that is clean, organized and run in a professional manner and has a stellar reputation.

Another important aspect on your part is to request a full and complete written estimate of any work to be performed and the parts that will be used before any vehicle body work is initiated. Any unusual services, costs or parts used should also be questioned. Consult with your insurance agent if you have any questions concerning your bill.

Avoiding auto body insurance fraud is something that every vehicle owner should have a working knowledge of and if you are at all unsure as to how your car insurance can be affected by fraudulent activity, complete the online contact form and an informed expert will provide you with the information you need to protect your interests and the interest and safety of your vehicle.