Auto Collision Repair at its Best
Auto body work uses several techniques to put your vehicle back in shape after an accident, some of them surprisingly low-cost, while others require the use of expensive and specialized equipment. Auto Craft provides every level of quality body work, from windshield repair and paintless dent repair (inexpensive methods) to extensive “auto collision repair,” which means the repair of damaged vehicle frames and replacement of damage internal parts on the car or truck.
Not all collision repairs shops are created equal, these days, because the ongoing invention of better methods and equipment, smaller shop can’t always afford to keep up the state of the art. As Wichita’s top collision repair company, we have the resources to repair your vehicle with the latest methods and equipment.
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Aluminum Body Work
Ford recently started manufacturing an F-150 with a military-grade aluminum body, which cuts nearly 1,000 pounds off the vehicle weight. High-end car companies like Audi, BMW and Jaguar have used aluminum frames for years, but most American body shops lack the equipment to work on them (aluminum is more difficult to work than steel and requires expensive equipment that many shops can’t afford). With the introduction of the new Ford trucks, we took the leap in invested in aluminum body repair equipment. Auto Craft is one of the few body shops in Wichita with this capability, and we’re proud to make it available to working Kansans for this lighter, stonger, new generation of vehicles.
OEM versus Aftermarket Parts
One of the most common questions we hear is whether we use OEM or aftermarket parts on repairs. The short answer is: “both.” The long answer requires a little explanation.
Let’s start with the basics; what do these two terms mean?
- OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer, which means parts made by the same company that originally built the vehicle. An OEM Ferrari part is made by Ferrari.
- Aftermarket describes parts that are made by companies other than the original manufacturer. Bosch, for example, makes parts for all kinds of vehicles; Ford, Nissan, etc., and these parts are built to the same specifications as the originals.
Are OEM Parts Better than Aftermarket Parts?
Some OEM parts are better than their aftermarket counterparts. And contrary to popular belief, many aftermarket parts are better than the original parts. Aftermarket parts are almost always less expensive, though, which means insurance companies are often only willing to pay for aftermarket replacement parts. In this case, if you want an OEM part instead, you may have to pay the difference out of pocket. But you are legally protected from inferior parts because when insurance companies specify aftermarket replacements in the body work estimate, they are required to warrant the aftermarket part in writing. If something goes wrong with it, they pay, not you.
Insurance companies are also required to clearly identify replacement parts as either aftermarket or OEM on the estimate, so you’ll always know what you’re getting.
Our job at Auto Craft is to bring your vehicle as close as possible to its original condition, in both appearance and structural integrity after a car accident repair. When we use OEM parts, we buy them from highly respected companies with solid track records of quality manufacturing. We won’t put anything on your car that we wouldn’t put on our own vehicles.
When is a Car Considered Totaled?
One of the tough conversations we sometimes have to have with customers is that, even though their vehicle is drivable, the insurance company has deemed it a total loss. It’s not fair, but it’s the way of the world, and like it or not, the insurance companies get to call the shots on this decision (they have to make money, too, to stay in business). So lets look at the conditions that may mean your car or truck will be “totaled” by the insurance company.
Airbags are ridiculously expensive because of the amount of research and engineering that goes into making them. They’re perhaps the most important safety system on your car, so the parts used in them have to be the best of the best, and the engineering behind them has to undergo exhaustive testing and re-testing. On the bright side, they provide reliable, lifesaving protection for years and years on a vehicle. That bad news is that replacing them costs at least $2,000, and they do have to be replaced; we aren’t allowed to stuff them back in like a parachute. So if your vehicle is worth $5,000 and two airbags are deployed, the car will be considered a total loss in most states with no other damage. Bummer.
Heavy Fluid Leakage
While not as certain a tip off as deployed airbags, large amounts of fluid on the ground after an accident often indicate a totaled vehicle. Most of a vehicle’s fluid tanks are situation in places that, when damaged, probably mean there’s lots of other damage around them. This isn’t a sure thing, but more often than not, repairs cost more than the salvage value of the vehicle when you see lots of fluids after a collision.
The Vehicle Can’t be Driven
The problem with vehicles that are undriveable after an accident is that they often have bent frames. Technically, we can repair most bent frames; after all, we’re a body shop and have big, frame-bending tools. The problem is that we have to take everything—meaning EVERYTHING—off the frame to repair it, and the labor involved can push the cost of repairs over the salvage value of the vehicle.
This one can be frustrating because hail damage often leaves vehicles drivable, but if it covers a large enough area, the labor involved in fixing dozens or hundreds of tiny dents and dings can add up to the point that the insurance company won’t pay for it. Result: totaled.
For smaller amounts of hail damage, the cost can be surprisingly low if the paint isn't damaged because we can use paintless dent repair techniques, which cost dramatically less than putty-sand-and-paint body repairs.
Learn more about auto hail damage repair.
How Do Insurance Companies Decide if a Car is Totaled?
Although insurance companies work with a lot of complex data to provide the services they do, the Total Loss Formula they use to answer this question is simple arithmetic. If the repair cost plus the salvage value of your vehicle adds up to 75 percent of the vehicle’s actual cash value (that’s in Kansas; it’s 60 percent when they look at collision repair in Tulsa and the rest of Oklahoma), the car is considered a total loss.
Get a Second Opinion if Your Collision Repair Estimate Seems High
Quality is the biggest consideration when have body shop work done, but cost is a close second, and different shops may estimate different prices for the same kind of work. Even if your body shop has a great reputation for workmanship, you have a legal right to a second opinion to make sure you’re getting the best body shop repair deal.
Be sure to communicate with your insurance company when you get the estimate you’re happy with, to keep the paperwork moving along smoothly. Or, if you want to save time and circumvent the second-opinion process entirely, check out your insurance provider’s direct repair program, which guarantees high quality, and provides a lifetime guarantee on body work. Or you can speed up the second opinion estimate process with Auto Craft’s online estimate tool; just click the green button at the top of any page on our website.