What Does a “Totaled Car” Mean?

totaled car, total lossWere you in a recent collision? Your insurance agency may deem your vehicle a “totaled car” or “total loss.” What exactly do these terms mean, and what are the parameters for determining that a car is totaled?

The Definition of a Totaled Car

Insurance companies classify a vehicle as a total loss if repair costs exceed 75% of the car’s Kelly Blue Book value. Needless to say, a totaled car is beyond what a paintless dent repair or auto paint restoration can fix.

After an auto accident, you will have to bring your vehicle to a collision center. Doug’s Auto Collision Center works with most national and Bellevue-based auto insurance providers. We make the final determination if a car is a total loss. If not, we can restore the vehicle to its pre-collision factory condition. If damaged beyond repair, your insurance will send you a check equal to the value of the car before the collision.

If the car is salvageable, we’ll coordinate with your insurance provider for repairs. A rental car may be arranged for you in the meantime. Continue Reading →

4 Myths About Auto Body Shops

body shop mythsIf you have been involved in a collision, you have a number of details to look after. You need to select a body shop to perform the repairs and deal with the insurance company. The entire process is stressful, and part of the stress is due to a number of body shop myths. Listed below are some myths … as well as the truth.

Body Shop Myth No. 1

Dealerships do a more reliable job of collision repairs after an accident than independent body shops.

Truth: This is simply not true. Many car owners believe only a dealership can order factory parts for their vehicle. At Doug’s Auto Collision Center, we work with original equipment manufacture (OEM) parts regularly and avoid using inferior aftermarket parts. Continue Reading →

What Happens to Your Car Insurance Rate After an Accident?

insurance rate after accidentAfter an auto collision, the condition of your car is just one of your many concerns. You may also be worried about insurance adjusters. What exactly happens to your insurance rate after an accident? Does it skyrocket, or are the concerns completely unfounded?

The Truth About Insurance Rates After an Accident

We can’t give you a straightforward “yes” or “no” regarding whether your insurance rate goes up after an accident. So many variables are at play. One of the biggest factors is whether you were at fault or your degree of culpability in the collision. If you were determined to be at fault or partly at fault, then you will probably see a rate increase. If you have a history of being in accidents, then you may also see a rate spike. This applies even if you were not at fault in any of the collisions.

Other factors that may come into play include your driving history. Do you have a record of tickets and traffic violations? Continue Reading →

Is DIY Towing a Possible Solution?

DIY towing, do-it-yourself towingIf your car breaks down, instead of calling AAA, would it be good to have a friend tow the car for you? It’s doable, but we don’t recommend it for several reasons. We always suggest calling a professional tow service to tow your car to our collision repair center. Here’s why do-it-yourself (DIY) towing isn’t a good idea.

Risk of Further Damage

A commercial tow truck has the appropriate equipment, axles, engine, and specialized frames for towing a civilian vehicle. It can also support the car’s full weight. Towing a residential vehicle using another residential vehicle can cause further damage to both cars. The vehicle doing the towing may incur brake and transmission wear. The towed car risks damage to the front bumper where people usually connect the ropes or chains.

You May Be Breaking the Law

Each state has its own law regarding civilian towing. Cities may also have their own ordinances. Typically, you require a tow rope, cable, or chain. Furthermore, the towed car needs to have a white flag or cloth a minimum of 12-square inches displayed on the connection.

Review the local city guidelines; otherwise, you may be pulled over and cited with a hefty fine for do-it-yourself (DIY) towing.

Professional Towing Is Covered (Usually)

Check with your insurance. Coverage may include the cost of tow services to a collision center. If it’s covered, why hassle a friend to tow your car and risk citation or damage to his own car?

We generally don’t recommend DIY towing unless the person doing the towing really understands both the process and the laws.

DIY Towing Is Not Worth the Risk

If your car requires towing, have it towed to Doug’s Auto Collision Center. Apart from collision repairs, we can also fix up any dents and scratched auto paint. DIY towing is a risky endeavor that we advise avoiding altogether.

Collision, Dent, and Auto Paint Restoration

Serving Customers in Bellevue, Renton, Highlands, Factoria, Issaquah and Mercer Island

Protect Your Car from Polymer Degradation

polymer degradation, car polymerPolymer is found in increasing abundance in modern cars. As durable as the material is, it is still susceptible to fading and discoloration with the passage of time. Here’s how you can reduce polymer degradation and preserve the car’s paint and other polymer surfaces.

What Is Polymer?

At the chemical level, polymer consists of elongated chains of molecules. Wood and rubber are common forms of natural polymer. However, the material is also derived synthetically and can be found in items ranging from shopping bags to nylon stockings.

In the automotive industry, polymers make up a portion of a car’s plastics, rubber, and vinyl. You’ll find these in the bumper, spoiler, and the trim that borders the window. Polymer is tough yet durable; on top of that, it’s also relatively inexpensive, making collision repairs affordable.

Polymer in Paint

Auto paint also contains polymers. The molecules produce a coating that really enhances the paint’s color and gloss. It also forms a protective barrier against external contaminants.

For all its durability, polymer degradation can occur over time, mainly from UV ray exposure. The end result is a faded appearance or visible cracks in the paint.

How to Prevent Polymer Degradation

The biggest prevention measure is to keep the car out of the sun as much as possible. This is easy if you have a garage. If you must park outside, keep it in the shade or use a car cover if possible.

You should also apply wax at least once every three months when you wash your car. The accumulation of dirt and debris can also degrade the polymer, so wash frequently.

We Restore Car Surfaces

Even if your car’s paint was badly damaged in a collision, we can restore it to its original gloss. We can also remove any dents in the process. Bring your car to Doug’s Auto Collision Center. Don’t let polymer degradation ruin your vehicle’s aesthetics.

Auto Paint Restoration

Serving Customers in Bellevue, Renton, Highlands, Factoria, Issaquah and Mercer Island

How to Deal with an Out-of-State Car Accident

out-of-state car accident, car accidentGetting into a car accident is unfortunate, regardless of where and when. However, the problem may be compounded when it occurs outside your home state. What do you do in the event of an out-of-state car accident?

What to Do After the Collision

The steps to take immediately after an auto collision are more or less the same. This means:

  • Contact local police to file a report
  • Acquire the other driver’s insurance information and record the vehicle’s license plate number
  • Take multiple photos and/or video of the scene and damage
  • Acquire names and statements of witnesses

Pre-Trip Preparation

It helps to prepare if you’re driving outside of Washington. Contact your insurance provider to make sure your policy covers out-of-state collisions. Most coverage plans apply across all 48 contiguous states. Continue Reading →

Delay, Deny, Defend: What You Need to Know About This Insurance Scam

insurance scam, delay deny defendInsurance companies are for-profit businesses. Your best interest may not always be their priority; rather, it’s about maximizing revenue. One way they achieve this end is through a common insider scam known as delay, deny, and defend, or DDD.

What Is Delay?

After an accident, the first step to take is to contact your insurance provider to file a claim. Your car is needs collision repairs. Even so, the provider may unnecessarily delay or procrastinate, making you as impatient as possible. When you become impatient, you are more inclined to accept the provider’s proposed settlement.

What Is Deny?

The insurance agency may even flat-out deny your claim using any possible and obscure loophole. Some car owners accept defeat, while others take the insurance provider to court. Continue Reading →

Does Your Collision Shop Perform Aluminum Car Frame Repair?

aluminum car frameCar manufacturers are slowly turning away from steel frames and towards aluminum frames. This material provides similar durability yet is lighter in weight. Not every collision shop, though, is equipped to handle aluminum car frame repair. Here’s why this form of frame restoration is a challenge.

Why the Transition to Aluminum?

The auto industry has transitioned to aluminum frames because it weighs less, shaving off a car’s base weight by up to several hundred pounds. The lighter weight means improved fuel economy and lower emissions. Pound-for-pound, aluminum also has twice the crash energy absorption capability of steel. Aluminum is also easily recyclable, making its production environmentally friendly.

Can Repair Shops Handle Aluminum Car Frame Repairs?

Aluminum is now the second-most widely used car material next to steel. Despite this, the collision and dent repair industry has been slow to accommodate the changes. Few have the necessary equipment and training to tackle aluminum repair work.

Aluminum frame repair requires heat. Heat is applied to soften the metal, making it soft enough to reshape the frame. The heat application is a very intricate process as the whole frame—and not just the damaged area—must be heated. Due to the complexity and small margin for error, many shops just opt to replace the entire frame. This means a higher cost to the car owner. Continue Reading →

The Proper Way to Respond to a Tailgater

respond to a tailgater, tailgater response, tailgatingTailgating is discouraged for the obvious reason that it drastically increases the likelihood of a collision. In fact, tailgating is one of the reasons collision repairs are so commonplace. What do you do, though, when someone is tailgating you? We explain how to respond to a tailgater in a nonconfrontational manner.

Why Tailgating Is Dangerous

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions account for 23% of all collisions. Many of these incidents were preventable but occurred due to tailgating.

When you drive too close to the driver ahead of you, the distance it takes your car to stop doesn’t change. This means you have less time to react and come to a full stop should the driver in front makes a sudden move. Continue Reading →

Bigger Vs Smaller Cars: Which Is Safer?

bigger smaller cars, car safety

Are bigger cars necessarily safer than smaller cars? The short answer is “yes.” However, the long answer is a bit more complex. Our collision center repairs vehicles of all sizes and can discuss at length the issue of bigger vs smaller cars.

Bigger Vs Smaller Car Safety at a Glance

Yes, it’s true that larger trucks and SUVs are generally safer than smaller vehicles. However, the gap has significantly narrowed in recent years thanks to modern safety technology. This includes the advent of rear and side airbags, rear cameras, electronic stability control, and blind spot warning.

Of course, a larger car with these technologies is still generally safer than a small car with the same safety features.

Size and Weight

Larger cars absorb less damage. This is due to the larger hood, which equals a stronger crumple zone that withstands the impact of a head-on collision better.

When a bigger car collides with a smaller car, the impact force from the larger car transfers to the smaller car. This increases the chance of whiplash injury for occupants in the smaller vehicle. 

Car Height

Smaller cars, though, do have one advantage. Larger cars tend to have a higher ground clearance, which reduces center of gravity and increases chances of a rollover. Rollovers, despite occurring in only 1% of collisions, account for 33% of driver fatalities.

What Is the Safest Vehicle?

Instead of just looking at car size, we suggest examining other factors. This includes its IIHS crash test ratings, safety technology, and recalls. Regardless of size, we suggest a vehicle with an IIHS rating of Top Safety Pick+.

We Restore all Car Sizes

We perform frame repair for full-size SUVs and compact sedans alike. This includes auto painting restoration and dent repair. Bring your vehicle to Doug’s Auto Collision Center for servicing. The issue of bigger cars vs smaller cars is worth exploring during the time of year when collisions peak.

Auto Body Servicing for all Vehicle Sizes 

Serving Customers in Bellevue, Renton Highlands, Factoria, Issaquah and Mercer Island