Common Types Of Fraud In Collision Repair

Common Types Of Fraud In Collision Repair

Collision repair in general can be a harrying experience, but when fraud is involved, the situation is ramped up for both the vehicle owner, the insurer and anyone else involved in the repair process. Though the majority of collision repair shops operate by the book and utilize honorable business practices, there are those few shops that exploit and manipulate unsuspecting customers.

The use of a disreputable shop can lead to insurance fraud. In order to avoid that dilemma, customers should be made aware of how the collision repair process is supposed to work. Avoiding scams at all costs and protecting customers are the goals of any insurer. When consumers are armed with the right information, they can make informed decisions before they are faced with collision costs.

Shop Fraud Tactics

Here is a listing of the different fraud tactics and hazards that involve collision repair. They should be of benefit in helping customers avoid any kind of trap before seeking advice and repair estimates.

Estimates for Damages

Be on the lookout for damage estimates that seem beyond what would be considered normal. A less credible shop will try to pad costs and add considerably more in the way of materials, parts and labor to a repair bill. They’re banking on a customer either not being aware of cost breakdowns as well as being in a hurry to get their vehicle repaired. Such shops are also hoping that the customer and their insurer will not detect anything out of the ordinary with an estimate. Watching for services that were never completed and parts and materials that were not necessary, or ever installed, are areas that can be easily manipulated by a dishonest shop. Review the estimate and question any procedure that seems fishy or out of the ordinary.

Hidden Deductibles

A number of repair shops will offer their customers the cost-free incentive of hiding or burying insurance deductibles within repair expenses, which leads to an insurance company picking up the tab for the total bill, while supposedly benefiting the customer with a free pass for costs. While this may be a temptation to vehicle owners in need of a less expensive way out of repair costs, they need to realize that the dishonesty of the repair shop goes beyond just charging the insurance company full cost. Charges for parts and other items made to the insurance company will be top dollar, while the vehicle owner will likely get replacement parts that are inferior, old or simply junk. It is definitely a risk to agree to an offer that buries costs that come out of your insurance carrier’s pocket and eventually yours.

Airbag Deception

In the case of most collisions, an airbag or airbags will likely have deployed, which means replacement. Fraudulent shop owners will try to replace an airbag with one that has been stolen or used, plus they will have gotten the airbag for next to nothing. Some shops will simply turn around and charge the insurance company with the full price of a new airbag. This is one devious and dangerous practice.

In order to inflate an estimate, dishonest shops will also try to deceive customers and insurers through the use of an already opened and expanded airbag that has been placed in the steering wheel area of a vehicle. This practice will lead to, once again, charging an insurance company the full price of a new airbag that is added into an estimate.

All of these tactics with airbags are deceitful and dishonest and can cause dangerous occurrences down the road. To avoid these kinds of crooked dealings with airbags, always insist on examining any packaged airbag or looking at the original invoice from a reputable airbag manufacturer. Also, both the customer and the insurance agent should thoroughly scrutinize estimates for airbag issues as well as watch for anything that seems suspicious or incorrect.

Fraud Avoidance

Insurers need to encourage their customers to look beyond repair shops and deals that seem too good to be true. If a repair shop lacks organization and is poorly kept, it is probably wise to go on to another shop that is professional and well organized. In addition, customers should be advised of the importance of requesting an estimate before any work is initiated. If questions arise concerning a repair bill, a customer needs to be reassured that their insurance agent is a constant companion concerning estimate issues. Finally, policy holders should be encouraged to only deal with ASE accredited repair shops and other reputable businesses.

There are always going to be questions concerning fraud and dealings with any kind of repair work. Seeking guidance through a reputable shop is the safe way to approach repairs without being mislead or scammed. If you need more answers concerning collision repair, complete the online contact form, and an experienced agent will get back to you with the answers you need to safely and honestly repair your vehicle.

How to Choose the Right Windshield Repair Shop

How to Choose the Right Windshield Repair Shop

Your windshield is a critical part of your vehicle, doing more than simply allowing you to see what is in front of you. Your windshield is actually part of the support system for your car and a crack or chip could lead to roof collapse if you are involved in an accident. Therefore, it is important to fix any issues with your windshield as quickly as possible. These tips can help you choose the right windshield repair shop.

Look for Experience

One of the first things to look for in a windshield repair shop is experience. If the shop is fairly new, you want to ask how much experience the technicians have who will be replacing your windshield. In most cases, you are better off to choose a shop that has been around for awhile and has technicians who have worked on vehicles like yours for many years. If the chip or crack has not broken through both layers of glass, an experienced company may be able to repair it, eliminating the need for a replacement.

Insurance Claims

Many times, insurance policies cover the cost of windshield replacement. If your policy includes windshield damage, ask the repair company if they accept the insurance and if they have the ability to file the claim. Most reputable auto repair shops have experience completing insurance forms, billing insurance companies and helping you navigate the process so that all you pay is your deductible.

National Chains

National chains are convenient and easily recognizable. Unfortunately, they also have high staff turnover and some lack the friendly, local customer service you will receive by using a local shop. At Elmer’s Auto Body, our staff has been with us for many years and have the experience necessary to repair your windshield quickly and efficiently, getting you back out on the road as soon as possible.

Check Reviews

Online reviews can be helpful when you are searching for windshield repair companies as well. Some websites offer star ratings for companies that are reviewed which can be helpful. You can also check the Better Business Bureau since their reviews are monitored more closely than on random websites. Asking your friends and family is another way to find a reputable windshield repair company as word-of-mouth is often the best way to find experts in any field.

If your windshield is cracked or chipped, you need to get it repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Contact Elmer’s Auto Body today to arrange for an appointment to replace or repair your windshield. Contact us by phone or complete the easy form online.

Understanding Car Accident Repair Cost Averages

Understanding Car Accident Repair Cost Averages

After an accident, once you know everyone is okay, your thoughts turn to the damage to your vehicle. Not knowing what to expect when it comes to the cost of repairs can be stressful. On top of that, you may be concerned about what will happen with their insurance, wondering about deductibles, how it will affect premiums and how much of the repair will be covered. Gaining an understanding of how repair costs are determined can help ease your concerns while also providing you with information that will confirm the quotes you are given are fair and accurate.

Minor Damages

If your vehicle has minor damage it is possible that modern technology will allow technicians to repair the damage with no need for paint. Elmer’s Auto Body offers paintless body repair that uses no body filler and no sanding. This means there is no need for painting which saves you time and money. In some cases, your repair may cost as little as $500.

Minor Damages Requiring Paint

If just one panel of your vehicle is damaged, like a bumper or fender, you may still see a relatively small repair bill. Although painting will be necessary, labor may be less intensive which can also save time and money. Estimates should average as low as $500 or as much as $1,500 although some estimates could be higher depending on the panel that is damaged.

Damage to Multiple Panels

If the damage is to more than one panel of the vehicle, costs can rise rather quickly. At minimum, you should expect a $1,500 estimate but it could go as high as $4,000. The body shop will need to replace or repair the panels. If they can be repaired, there will probably be body filler and sanding which means the technicians will need to paint. If the entire car cannot be painted, they can use computer systems that will match the paint on the rest of the car.

Damage that Can Affect Drivability

If your car has sustained damage that is not only cosmetic but also affects how your car drives will lead to extremely expensive repair bills. Depending on how severe the mechanical damage is, you could be facing a repair bill that will start at $4,000 but will more than likely be significantly higher.

Damage That Leaves Your Car Undrivable

If your car cannot be driven at all, you will more than likely see cost estimates that start as high as $6,000 or more. A car that has been damaged to the point it cannot be driven will require auto body technicians and mechanics who have extensive experience repairing such damage. This means their labor costs will be much higher, but they will be more likely to return your car to its pre-damaged condition. It is possible that when your insurance company receives your estimate, they may decide to “total” your car. A car is totaled when the cost to fix the vehicle exceeds the value of the car. In New Jersey, insurance companies use a total loss formula. This means that the cost of repairs plus scrap value must equal what the car was worth prior to the accident. If this should happen, the insurance company will not repair your car but pay you for the value instead.

If your car has been damaged in a collision, contact Elmer’s Auto Body to set up an appointment. You can reach us by phone or by filling out the easy form online.

Common Auto Paint Problems And How To Avoid Them

Common Auto Paint Problems And How To Avoid Them

Minor paint damage on your vehicle is not uncommon. Someone opens a car door into yours in the parking lot of the grocery store or a stone flies from the wheel of the truck in front of you causing a ding in the paint, for example. You can often repair these minor problems on your own. Even what appears to be a large scratch can often be fixed easily at home without taking your car to the body shop.

However, there are a few common auto paint problems that can occur when you choose to make paint corrections on your own. These are just a few common issues and suggestions for how to avoid them.


If the color is seeping through the new topcoat color or if you notice the original finish discoloring, the issue is known as bleeding. This is often caused by dyes and pigments in the old finish, especially if the original finish was red.

The best way to prevent bleeding is to clean the areas before you sand them. This is especially important if you are painting a lighter color over a darker color. If bleeding is already happening, apply two medium coats of primer seal making sure to follow the directions. Once it is dry, reapply the color coat.


If you notice small bumps in, on or under the paint it is possible foreign particles have mixed with the wet paint. There are several things you can do should you notice this problem. First, check to see if the issue is only in a small area or throughout the project.

Make sure that there was a strainer on the paint cup while you were pouring and check the environment to be sure there is no dust or debris. Make sure the spraying equipment is thoroughly clean and make sure the filters are not contaminated.

Fish Eyes

If you notice small blemishes on the surface that look like popped bubbles, the culprit may be silicone in your wax or polish. Silicone adheres to the paint film and requires additional work to remove. Check to be sure that the paint is not contaminated and be sure to clean the area well.

If the problem is the old finish, you will need to clean the area well to remove embedded silicone. Always clean the area to be painted thoroughly with wax and grease remover. Although you should use a fish eye eliminator, the eliminator does not replace good surface preparation.

Paint Runs and Sags

When paint is applied to heavily, it can run or sag. Running and sagging can also occur if there is too much thinner or reducer. Be sure to read labels and follow instructions to be sure you have the right mixture. Always allow sufficient time to dry between coats and use proper gun adjustment.

There are many more common issues when it comes to painting your vehicle. Instead of attempting to do the work yourself, contact Elmer’s Body Shop to have the car painted professionally. You can schedule an appointment by filling out the form online or giving us a call today.

What Factors Determine Your Car’s Trade-In Value?

What Factors Determine Your Car's Trade-In Value?

When it comes time to purchase a new car, there is always the age-old question of what to do with your old car. You have several options when it comes to your old car, the one that commuted with you to work each day, picked your children up from school and ran errands for your family.

You can keep it to hand down to a teenager, you can sell it to someone else or you can trade it in at the dealership where you buy your new vehicle. If you have decided to simply trade in your car, these are some of the factors the dealer will more than likely use to determine value.

Maintenance and Mileage

If your vehicle has over 100,000 miles on it, you will probably see a significant drop in value. Even if your vehicle is dependable and has driven 200,000 miles without the need for a major repair, the dealer will probably lower the amount they will give you, especially if the mileage seems excessive.

The average person drives between 12,000 and 15,000 each year. This means that if your car is less than six years old and has over 100,000 miles, your dealer will assume the car has been driven hard and that mechanical issues are just around the corner. Maintenance is also critical. It is important to follow the manufacturers recommendations for maintenance and keep all records, even if they seem minor. When it comes time to sell the car, having those records can help improve the trade in value.

Options on Vehicle

When you purchased your vehicle, you may have added options that increased the cost of your vehicle, or the dealer may have thrown them in to entice you to purchase the car. Options like automatic transmissions, power windows and locks, anti-lock brakes, cruise control and navigation systems are all welcome options.

Buyers also look for leather seats that have been taken care of, remote starts, entertainment systems and sunroofs. However, most buyers want options that were installed by a dealer or manufacturer, not after-market or performance-based options. Cars that are neutral colors, like gray, black or white are usually easier to sell than unique, limited edition paint colors.

Condition of Interior and Exterior

Buyers want cars that have been taken care of and although you may not worry about a spot or two on the seat, a buyer may see a bigger problem. If your car is a mess on the inside, a buyer will question how well you took care of the rest of the vehicle. Avoid smoking in your car and clean up spills quickly to avoid staining.

When it comes time to trade in the car or sell it yourself, have the interior detailed in order to return it to as close to new condition as you can. The same is true of the exterior. Just one or two small dents can lower your vehicle from “good” to “fair,” which significantly lowers value. If possible, have small dents repaired before trading it in or selling it.

Market Value

There are some things you absolutely cannot control when it comes time to sell your car. Some types of vehicles sell better in certain areas of the country than others. A convertible in Miami may fetch top dollar but that same car in Buffalo probably won’t. Some vehicles hold their value, like Subaru, Honda, Huyndai, Mazda and Toyota, so if you have one of these brands, you may see a higher trade in offer than with others. Supply and demand will have an impact as well. A dealer with a dozen Accords on the lot is not going to pay top dollar for another one.

If you are considering a new car purchase and have exterior damage that needs to be repaired, contact Elmer’s Auto Body today by filling out the easy form online or giving us a call. We can repair minor dents and scratches quickly and have you back on the road in no time.

What Do Collision Repair Technicians Look For When Assessing Collision Damage?

What Do Collision Repair Technicians Look For When Assessing Collision Damage?

When your vehicle is involved in a collision, you want to get it repaired as quickly as possible, but you also want to be sure the car is as safe as possible. When you take your car to a NJ collision repair technician, one of the things they should do is inspect the car for a wide range of problems. A highly-trained collision technician will not simply address the cosmetic damage or the issues that can be seen with the naked eye. There are many other factors they must consider when they determine what repairs are needed.

Door Panel Damage

Door panel damage may initially seem minor and you may believe the damage is only to the exterior of the car. A collision involving the door panel can cause significant damage, however. A collision repair technician will inspect the damage to determine if an entirely new panel is necessary. They check for misalignment or unevenness in the door gaps, and if any exists, the entire door panel should be replaced. If there is no misalignment, it is possible the panel can be repaired rather than replaced.

Damage to Fenders or Bumpers

Fender and bumper damage are the most common after a collision which is why they are designed to absorb a significant amount of impact. The fender and bumper are often made of lightweight material, so a collision repair technician will look for cracks or scratches which can usually be fixed easily. If the damage is severe, the fender or bumper will need to be replaced.

Cracked or Chipped Windshields

Your windshield is part of the roof support in your car. Even if the collision caused a minor crack or chip, it could lessen the integrity of your roof. If you are involved in another collision, the roof of your car could collapse. If a chip has broken through both layers of glass in your windshield, you will need to have it replaced. In addition, it is possible that an accident could cause tiny cracks that are not clearly visible. A collision repair technician will recognize those cracks and replace your windshield, keeping you and your passengers safe.

Collision repair technicians should be able to recognize all types of vehicle damage, even damage that is not easily seen. If you have been involved in a collision, schedule an appointment with Elmer’s Auto Body today by calling or by filling out the form online.