Why Is It Important To Test Drive Your Vehicle After Repairs?

Why Is It Important To Test Drive Your Vehicle After Repairs?

It’s always a relief when you get a call from the repair shop telling you that your vehicle is ready for pickup. This usually marks the end of an irritating and stressful process. Being without your vehicle for even a short time tends to aggravate the situation, but you still have one final step once the repairs are done. It is highly essential that you always test drive a vehicle after it has been repaired. If there is anything wrong, you need to figure that out immediately.


What Happens If You Don’t Do A Test Drive?

You will almost surely be driving your vehicle home after picking it up from the repair shop. However, that isn’t really the same thing as a test drive. A real test drive involves checking for common problems and paying close attention while performing specific maneuvers. It’s definitely not the same thing as an everyday drive down the street.

If you don’t do a test drive immediately, you will see those problems eventually. Unfortunately, it will be much harder for you to complain about those incomplete or incorrect repairs once several days have passed. The sooner you bring it back to the repair shop, the more likely it is that they will take responsibility for their mistake and fix the problem. If you wait too long, there is no way for the shop to know that you aren’t trying to scam them for free work.


Don’t Come Back With Unrelated Problems

You should understand that it isn’t always the shop’s fault if your car isn’t fully repaired. Unfortunately, some vehicle issues are much more subtle than others, and therefore much harder to detect. Thus, little problems can easily be missed. However, it isn’t reasonable to complain about something that was outside the scope of the repair work.

For instance, let’s say you brought your car to a body shop for repainting and a new windshield. If you get the vehicle back and notice problems with the engine, that probably had nothing to do with your auto body repair specialist. A paint job and a windshield change would not affect the engine one way or the other, so you cannot blame them for that one. However, in that same situation, you would definitely need to go back to the shop if the paint starts peeling or if the windshield isn’t properly installed.


Best Practices When Doing A Test Drive

As we said, a real test drive is a bit more involved than the average driving session. The main difference lies in the fact that you have to pay close attention to the vehicle. First of all, turn off your radio and your AC/heater. This will allow you to more accurately hear any telltale noises. This should also make it easier to feel any strange vibrations or “choppiness” that might be present.

On that note, strange noises and vibrations are always warning signs. They could indicate minor problems like a warped rotor guard, or major problems like a bad transaxle or a failing transmission. Find a place where you can cut some sharp turns and do some figure-eights. There are certain problems (particularly wheel problems) that are only noticeable when you turn in a certain way.

A few brake checks are also in order, although you should not do them on a crowded public road. Basically, you just want to get up to a good speed and do a few quick stops just to make sure your brakes are working properly. They should bring you to a full stop without making the vehicle lurch to one side. On that note, you can also easily check the alignment of your vehicle.

While driving down a straight stretch with no other cars nearby, set your car on a perfectly straight path and then let go of the steering wheel. Only do this for a maximum of five seconds, and grab the wheel quickly if you begin to swerve.

Here is why you do this: A vehicle with bad alignment will not maintain a straight course. It will immediately try to drift left or right, and that makes alignment problems easy to diagnose.

Finally, it’s also a good idea to test the electrical components in your car and make sure they are working properly. This would include things like power windows, power locks, the stereo, the AC, turn signals, brake lights, low/high beams, etc. Such problems can indicate issues with the parts that provide their power. As a final tip, make sure to drive on varying road conditions at varying speeds. This gives you the best possible chance of detecting a problem.


How Long Should A Test-Driving Session Last?

There is no set rule here, but a lot of people say that 20-30 minutes is ideal. However, you should take as much time as you require. You don’t want to skimp on any of the checks, and you want to take the time to fully verify any problems that you see. And so, the real answer is to take as much time as you require.



Without a solid test drive, it becomes very difficult to evaluate the repair work that has been done to your vehicle. You will essentially be trusting your mechanics 100%, and that isn’t always a good idea. Of course, you can get away with that if you choose one of the better auto body shops in South Jersey. If you are in need of a good NJ body shop, you can call our team here at Elmer’s Auto Body at (856) 218-0202.

Tips To Enhance Your Vehicle’s Value After An Accident

Tips To Enhance Your Vehicle's Value After An Accident

Unfortunately, vehicle accidents cannot always be avoided. Even if your driving is impeccable, there will always be the possibility of disaster. As long as no serious injuries have occurred, the first priority after an accident will be vehicle repair. Unfortunately, being involved in a major collision can lower the market value of your car. This is fair because damaged goods are always worth less, even if they have been repaired. Still, there are ways to bring that value back up again. With that in mind, let’s discuss some ways to enhance your vehicle’s value after an accident.


How Does A Collision Lower A Vehicle’s Value?


Naturally, any major accident (and most minor ones) need to be reported to your insurance company. In turn, that insurance company will file a diminished value claim in response to a collision. This claim is simply a note on the vehicle’s official history stating that it was involved in an accident.

There are three different types of diminished value claims:

  • Inherent: This claim is made when the vehicle has been properly fixed and restored to its pre-accident state. A slight value loss occurs here because things are no longer original and pristine.
  • Immediate: This is a claim that usually won’t be filed if the vehicle is fixed in a timely fashion. It signifies a large and immediate value reduction due to damage sustained in the accident.
  • Repair-Related: This claim is used for value losses that result from bad repair jobs.

Now then, let’s talk about some of the ways in which you can bring that value up again.


1. Make Sure All Repairs Are Done Correctly


Obviously, you want your diminished value claim to be an “inherent” one. These claims generally have the lowest reduction, and they only require that the vehicle is properly repaired. Make sure that the body shop and all its mechanics are certified to work on your type of car, and make sure that they have a good track record. It’s also important to use OEM parts wherever possible. If everything is done right, it shouldn’t be that hard to get your damage claim placed in the least harmful category.


2. Consider Some Upgrades


Vehicles are always worth more money when they are in their original state. However, once major repairs have been done and parts have been replaced, your vehicle will no longer be in that original state. The upside of this is that you can go ahead and upgrade the vehicle in any way you might like. Upgrades will generally increase the value of any vehicle. Examples of value-raising upgrades might include:

  • New tires and/or rims
  • A new paint job
  • Better headlights
  • Leather seats
  • Spoilers, trim, running lights, and other cosmetic improvements
  • Engine improvements or a better engine


3. Get An Appraisal


Most auto shops will be willing to appraise your vehicle for a small fee. This simply means that they will thoroughly check the vehicle for any problems. They will also take various factors into account to determine an approximate market value for the car. While an appraisal may not immediately raise your vehicle’s value, it will verify its existing value and help you to keep from getting “low-balled” when it’s time to negotiate the price with a potential buyer. In addition, the appraiser can probably suggest some effective ways to raise your vehicle’s value.


4. Documented Regular Maintenance


The condition of a car makes a huge difference in its value. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to verify the condition of some vehicles if the owner hasn’t kept good records. You should keep a record of every repair that is done on your vehicle, even if it’s just routine maintenance like changing a spark plug or changing the fluids. When it’s time to sell the car, you can show those documents to a potential buyer as proof that the car has been regularly maintained.


5. Add New Safety Features


Instead of upgrading your existing features, you can opt to add new ones. In particular, older cars usually won’t have the same safety features that you see on newer models. For some buyers, a thing like that can make a big difference. That’s why it can greatly increase the value of your car to equip it with better safety systems.


6. Get The Vehicle Detailed

Because we spend so much time inside of them, many vehicles have a tendency to get dirty. Whether it’s trash on the floorboard, spilled coffee in the console, or animal waste in the backseat, it needs to be cleaned. Stains and other such wear will reduce the car’s value without a doubt. Thankfully, these issues are easy to fix with a routine detailing job, which can raise the value by a moderate amount.




There is no reason to worry that collision repairs will kill your vehicle’s resale value. When things are handled in the appropriate way, you can keep those value reductions to a minimum. Using the methods on this list, you might even be able to increase the value beyond pre-accident levels. But, we hear you asking, “where can I find the best auto body shop near me?” The answer is Elmer’s Auto Body, as we specialize in helping car owners maintain the value of their vehicles. If you would like to know more, you can call us at (856) 218-0202.63

What Are Pre And Post Collision Scans?

What Are Pre And Post Collision Scans?

When your car has been involved in a collision, the damage will not always be obvious. Some things are extremely obvious (like a busted fender, for instance), but many other problems are less visible. In particular, issues with the vehicle’s electrical systems will not necessarily be plain to see. That is why every good collision repair begins (and ends) with a diagnostic scan.


How Does A Diagnostic Scan Work?


As in the medical field, the term “diagnostics” refers to the process of finding your problems so that they can be fixed. With all the computerization that is present in modern vehicles, a diagnostic scan is highly essential. Otherwise, it can be ridiculously hard to isolate and identify subtle issues.

Diagnostic scans work by using a special tool, technically called an “on-board diagnostic tool.” Yes, the name is highly self-explanatory, but that’s neither here nor there. This is a small device, about the size of a walkie-talkie, that can plug into a special port and scan the vehicle for any known problems. In most vehicles, this port is located under the steering column, but it varies by model.

When the tool is plugged in, it will take a couple of minutes to scan the car’s electronic control modules (ECM). These are small computers that are fed information by special sensors throughout the vehicle. In some cases, it may be necessary to repair one or more sensors and/or ECMs before an accurate diagnosis can be given. The diagnostic tool will display codes that correspond to specific problems.


How Does An ECM Work?


While older vehicles would often have a single ECM, modern vehicles have many. They might be located in the same area, but each of them is technically considered to be a separate computer. Here are the most common types of ECMs that you might find on a vehicle:

  • Engine Control Unit- Controls the firing and timing of the engine, while also giving feedback
  • Door Control Unit- Controls power doors and gives feedback on their condition
  • Power Steering Control Unit- Controls the power steering system and reports any problems
  • Powertrain Control Unit- Controls the transfer of force from the engine to the wheels, while also reading any issues
  • Body Control Unit- Controls various secondary systems like wipers, air conditioning, etc.
  • Transmission Control Unit- Controls the switching of gears in vehicles with automatic transmissions and reports any problems
  • ABS Control Unit- Controls the brakes and gives feedback on their performance
  • Airbag Control Unit- Controls the deployment of airbags and reads their status

There are others that might be present in your car, but we think you get the idea. Each of these ECMs relies on accurate feedback from their respective sensors, which they use to report codes to a diagnostic tool. Each of these is basically just a small computer that is designed for one specific job.


Pre-Collision Repair Scans and Post-Collision Repair Scans


Whenever you are having a collision repair job done, it is essential to do a pre-repair scan. Otherwise, the repair technician might not fix (or even notice) all of the existing problems. No one wants to pay for half a repair job, so that is not acceptable. Nearly all auto manufacturers recommend that a scan like this should be done before any collision repair. For repairs that are covered under a warranty, it is usually a requirement.

A post-collision scan is just as important. Otherwise, there is no opportunity to verify that the vehicle has been fixed. It will also verify that the mechanic did not create any new problems in the process of fixing the old ones. Some auto manufacturers have gone so far as to require all their certified mechanics to do pre-scans and post-scans on every vehicle of that particular brand.

For instance, GM now requires both of these types of scans whenever a collision has occurred. These guidelines also call for hands-on diagnostic work, but that doesn’t negate the need for scanning.


Can All Vehicles Be Scanned With On-Board Diagnostic Tools?


Unless you are talking about a particularly old vehicle, you should be able to plug in a diagnostic scanner and use it with no problem. EPA regulations mandate that all cars sold after January 1, 1996, must have on-board diagnostic systems so that they will be compatible with such tools. If your car is any older than that, you should probably go to a mechanic who specializes in antique vehicles. These regulations were first introduced in 1994 but did not become fully mandatory until 1996.


How Much Do Repair Shops Charge For Pre/Post Collision Scans?


This will vary somewhat according to the repair shop in question. All mechanics and shops have an hourly labor rate, about which you can ask. Many shops just charge according to the time taken for the scan. Some others, however, charge a flat rate for each scan performed. Talk to your repair shop to find out the specifics of this matter. So, after you ask yourself: “what is the best auto body shop near me?, the next question to answer is: “How much will they charge me for a scan?”




Modern automotive repair is a much more high-tech process than it was in the past. Without proper diagnostic tools, every repair job becomes much more difficult. With these tools, labor costs should be reduced. When the mechanic doesn’t have to take the time to diagnose every problem physically, it creates faster and more efficient service for all. If you would like to know more about this subject, you can call Elmer’s Auto Body at (856) 218-0202. If you need the best South Jersey auto body shop, you cannot go wrong with us.

Can Damage From A Head-On Collision Be Repaired?

Can Damage From A Head-On Collision Be Repaired?

A head-on collision is one of the worst types of auto accidents that you can suffer. These types of collisions are far more likely to result in serious injury, and also much more likely to decimate your vehicle. Obviously, the damage will mostly be in the front, and that’s where the most important part (the engine) is located. So, that brings us to the essential question. Can damage from a head-on collision be repaired? It depends on several key factors.


The Extent Of The Damage


The first thing to understand is that it all depends on the extent of the damage. If you are talking about a low-speed collision or an indirect collision, the damage might be minimal. In most vehicles, the radiator is right in the front, so it’s probably going to be toast. There is always going to be a fan right behind that radiator, so it’s likely going to be destroyed as well. However, those parts can be changed out without much trouble, so they aren’t the biggest concerns.

The biggest concerns are the frame of the vehicle itself, as well as the engine. When these things are damaged beyond repair, it’s better to scrap and replace the car. If there is frame damage, it might still be possible to repair the vehicle, but that is something that has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. While it is certainly possible to replace an engine, the parts and labor involved are going to be extremely expensive.


Type Of Damage Incurred


It’s not just about the sheer extent of the damage, as the type of damage will also be a determining factor. If the frame has been bent to the left or the right, this is called “sway damage.” Likewise, “twist damage” involves the frame being twisted. You also might have “mash damage”, in which the metal of the frame has been compressed like an accordion.

Mash damage is probably the worst of the three, while sway damage is generally less serious. Twist damage is right in the middle, as it all depends on the extent of the twist. After a certain point, the frame can no longer be restored to a safe and stable state. However, if you just have some light sway, the vehicle can probably be repaired. Body shops have straightening machines that are great for light damage, and damaged sections of a frame can often be replaced.


Safety Concerns


Safety should always be a key factor when choosing whether to repair or replace a vehicle. For example, let’s say that your car has suffered severe mash damage and some twisting in key places. It might be possible for a skilled body shop technician to restore that vehicle to a point where it can be driven. However, it will never be particularly safe to drive that vehicle. Should it be involved in another collision with a badly weakened frame, the results could be catastrophic.

Body shops have to think about these things when repairing vehicles. If they send someone out with an unsafe vehicle and something terrible happens, they can be held liable. There are also various laws and state-level regulations that determine when a car can legally be allowed back on the road after a collision.


Type Of Vehicle Frame


All cars and trucks made today will generally have one of two frame types: Uni-body or ladder-frame. A uni-body frame is exactly what the name implies: The entire frame is one piece. A ladder-on-frame design, by contrast, uses the frame as more of an anchor on which to attach the body. You usually see ladder-frame designs on trucks and other larger vehicles, as it is better for bearing a large amount of weight. In any case, uni-body repairs tend to be more expensive and more difficult.


Availability Of Parts


If your vehicle is damaged severely enough to compromise the frame, there will certainly be other damaged parts as well. Most (if not all) of these will need to be replaced. Of course, this might include sections of the frame and body, so you’re definitely looking at some expenses for all those parts. And, of course, that problem becomes much harder if your vehicle’s parts are not so easy to find. Aftermarket parts can often be substituted for rare ones, but that might reduce the vehicle’s resale value.


Can You Drive A Vehicle With Frame Damage?


Absolutely not. It is not safe to drive a vehicle that has suffered frame damage. We have already mentioned the fact that such vehicles are unsafe due to their structural integrity being weakened. However, there is another problem: Such a car usually won’t drive straight. The frame is the very core of the vehicle, so you cannot expect it to travel straight on a bent frame.




As you can see, there is no simple answer here. Damage from a head-on collision may or may not be possible to repair. It mainly depends on how much damage the vehicle took, what type of damage was incurred, and the amount of time and money that will be required to return the vehicle to an acceptable condition. If you are in need of a frame repair, there is no need to ask yourself “where can I find the best auto body shop near me?” because you are already looking in the right place. To find out more, you can call us at (856) 218-0202.

Car Frame Damage 101

Car Frame Damage 101

Every car will get damaged at some point, but frame damage is one of the most serious kinds. The frame and the engine are the two most crucial pieces of any vehicle, so frame damage must not be ignored. If you let this kind of thing go, it will only become worse and could become a serious safety hazard. For those who have never had to deal with this situation before, let’s go over the basics of car frame damage.


Uni-Frame Vs. Body-On-Frame Designs

You will need to know what kind of frame your vehicle might have. There are two basic types, referred to as “uni-frame” and “body-on-frame.” As you might guess from the name, a uni-frame is a combination of frame and body. The two pieces are fused together (usually through welding) so that they are one unified piece. Most passenger automobiles have this kind of frame, so this is most likely what you have.

Body-on-frame vehicles, on the other hand, have a separate body and frame. These two pieces will be bolted together for stability, but they are still two different parts. These frames are most often seen in large vehicles like trucks, SUVs, and buses. For these large vehicles, a uni-body frame would be impractical. The complications of shipping such a large uni-frame alone make it more sensible to keep the two parts separated.


What Does A Vehicle Frame Do?

A vehicle frame serves several purposes, but it’s mostly there to serve as the “skeleton” on which the rest of the vehicle is built. Like an actual skeleton, it is also there to provide support for everything else. Apart from that, a frame is also there to provide protection for the car and its occupants in the event of a collision.


How Can I Tell If My Vehicle’s Frame Is Damaged?

It can be difficult to recognize frame damage if it isn’t particularly severe. Sometimes, of course, it is obvious. If your car has suffered a collision that is bad enough to render the vehicle unusable, it is time to get checked out for frame damage. For those cases which are not so obvious, here are a few potential warning signs:

  • Wheels are out of alignment and/or don’t track properly
  • Body panels have become misaligned
  • Uneven tire wear
  • Strange grinding or rattling sounds
  • The vehicle no longer sits parallel to the ground


Repair Or Replace?

When it comes to frame damage, you need to remember that this is a safety issue. If you should happen to suffer another collision, a damaged frame could reduce your protection and make injury (or even death) more likely. That is why replacement is preferable to repair. The good news is that you don’t always necessarily have to replace the entire frame. Most vehicles are made in such a way that you can replace one section of the frame when needed.

We would recommend that you always consider replacing the vehicle if it has suffered major frame damage. Most people recommend that you avoid buying a car with frame damage (no matter how cheap it may be). In like manner, you shouldn’t drive one like that, either. Yes, replacement tends to be more expensive, but how much is your life worth to you?


Frame Components

When a mechanic refers to your frame, they will probably refer to one of the frame components. It pays to understand these terms so that you know what your mechanic means:

  • Core support: The front part of the frame where the radiator sits
  • Unirail: Two beams located at the front and back
  • Strut Tower: four pillars at the corners of the vehicle
  • Apron: Front inner fender areas
  • Firewall: The wall-like section that separates the engine from the cabin
  • Floor pan: The metal sheet that makes up the floor of the vehicle
  • A-B-C Pillars: Vertical support pillars
  • Rocker panels: Located between the wheels and under the doors
  • Quarter panel: The panels that make up the front and back corners



The most important thing to remember is the fact that frame damage is very serious. If you have been in a collision and you suspect that frame damage has occurred, it is crucial that you get your vehicle to a trusted mechanic as soon as possible. Even if there is no frame damage, you will want to confirm that fact rather than trust your initial impression. With this in mind, you might be asking: “where is the closest auto body shop near me?” The answer to that question is Elmer’s Auto Body, as we have been providing the best auto body service in South Jersey for over 75 years. If you would like to learn more about frame repair or replacement services, give us a call at (856) 218-0202.

How to Choose The Right Auto Body Shop

How to Choose The Right Auto Body Shop

When your car is in need of repair, who are you going to call? Since car problems cannot be ghostbusted, the next best thing is finding the right auto body shop. Sure, you could probably name several off the top of your head, but how do you know they are good? Rather than getting stressed out about finding a decent mechanic, here are some tips on how to choose the right auto body shop to solve your car troubles and give your exceptional service:


Location, Location, Location

While this is not always true, it is almost always better to choose a local auto body shop. Not only does that limit the distance you have to drive with a problem, but you also will have a better idea of the most trustworthy local businesses. The auto body shop around the corner from you that has been around for 30 years or more will generally provide you with all the services you need. Plus, choosing local makes it easier to ask your friends and family if they know about it.


What is The Auto Body Shop’s Reputation?

Linked in with location, you want to be able to gauge the auto body shop’s reputation. If their business has been consistent for as long as they have been open, that is an excellent sign. You can check for the reputation and credibility of auto body shops near you by hopping online. Check the website and any social media profiles for any testimonials or comments then head over to Google Maps. There, you can read a list of real reviews, which will tell you about all the good and bad experiences people have had there.

If you spot a negative review, be sure to read that as well. How the business responds to negativity often says much more than their responses to five-star reviews.

Don’t forget to check with your friends, family, and coworkers to see if they have any recommendations. Most people with cars have had to deal with an auto body shop in their lifetime.


Seek Out Certified Technicians

Only the best auto body shops are going to employ mechanics who are certified by specific manufacturers. . Associations like the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) certifications, for example, are proof of the skill and expertise of the auto technicians. To become a recognized body shop for a specific manufacturer ensures that the business is using OEM parts sourced directly from the maker.

At Elmer’s Auto Body, the technicians are I-CAR Gold Class Certified; we are also a recognized body shop for Acura, Chrysler, GM, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Kia, Hyundai, Infiniti, and Subaru.


Ask The Right Questions

A good auto body shop is going to welcome whatever questions you have when you call. In other words, if there is something you are unsure about, call! Here are some questions you may need to be answered before selecting a reputable auto body or collision repair shop:

  • Does your shop provide warranties for parts and repairs?
  • What happens if my vehicle gets damaged while it is at your shop?
  • What kind of materials do you use? If I request OEM or aftermarket parts, can your body shop accommodate that?
  • Do you provide estimates?
  • Do you work with insurance companies?
  • What kind of turnaround time should I expect?
  • What is your payment policy?
  • Can you walk me through the repair process?

These are some general questions; it is always smart to ask about your specific issue, too. Some auto body shops specialize in a certain kind of repair. Also, some shops may not have the kind of parts needed to repair your vehicle. Therefore, calling ahead of time to see what the shop can and cannot do will save you some time.


Go With Your Gut

At the end of the day, you are going to know what feels right. It does not matter if a location has thousands of excellent reviews and dozens of certifications hanging in the front window of its office. If you do not feel good about leaving your vehicle somewhere, don’t do it. You should feel confident about the auto body shop where you take your car. The front desk should be welcoming and answer your questions. The mechanics should appear professional and knowledgeable. Remember, there are many auto body shops near you; keep searching until you find the right one.


Quality Service from Elmer’s Auto Body

Now that you know how to choose the right auto body shop, you have some searching to do. You could also bring your car to Elmer’s Auto Body, serving the South Jersey area for more than 75 years. From our reliable estimate process to our highly trained and qualified technicians, we have everything necessary to perform superior work on your vehicle. We will even handle your insurance company after an accident. Give us a call or send us a message today.