Blog

How Has Commute Traffic Changed Since the Start of the Pandemic?

Now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in Sonoma County, life is starting to slowly return to normal. However, if you commute to work during typical business hours, you may have noticed rush hour doesn’t seem to feel as “rushed” as it used to.

Heavy traffic on one of the freeways crossing Silicon Valley, San Francisco bay area, California

You’re not alone. Traffic data from across the country suggests that the daily commute has changed drastically since the start of the pandemic, particularly in the morning. And, traffic experts aren’t sure if it will actually return to its pre-pandemic patterns.

In general, rush hour trends have shown that traffic has become more spread out, with more drivers postponing their trips to the office until later in the morning. As more Americans have transitioned to remote work or a hybrid schedule, there’s more variance with when people are commuting. Although it’s expected that more people will return to the workplace following Labor Day, traffic experts believe that traffic will continue to stay lighter than it was prior to 2020.

Less Road Time Has a Downside

Less congestion on the road seems like it would be a good thing, right? Commutes are quicker. There’s less stop-and-go traffic (and the accompanying stress and potential for road rage). What’s not to like?

Unfortunately, less road time comes with a dangerous downside. Fewer people commuting means the road is nice and open, which encourages speeding and increases the potential for deadly accidents. In fact, it’s more dangerous out there than it was before the pandemic.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled on U.S. roads was 1.37, a 23% increase from 2019. In addition, the National Safety Council also estimates that just under 4. 8 million people were seriously injured in collision in 2020.

With fewer people on the road, people can drive faster. With faster speeds, there are typically more reckless maneuvers, lower reaction time for braking, more occurrences of drivers losing control, and other factors that lead to collisions and injury. To add to the issue, police aren’t stepping in the way they had prior to the pandemic, so many drivers have been speeding because they know they can get away with it.

Staying Safe on the Road

Whether you commute to the office daily or work remotely, it’s important to keep in mind that many people are still adjusting to life after a year of lockdown—and more traffic on the roads. Some drivers have become accustomed to driving well over the speed limit over the past year. Stay safe by keeping your eyes on the road, limiting distractions, and give people who want to go faster than the speed limit allows a wide berth.

If you do get into an accident, we’re here to help! From high-quality OEM repairs to complete insurance coordination on your behalf, we make the repair process as smooth and stress-free as possible. Give us a call at (707) 591-9909 or contact us online. Stay safe out there!

How to Protect Your Car’s Paint from the Heat

The car's paintwork. Abstract background in classic blue. Trend color. Close up. The texture of the paint

It’s common to hear about “winterizing” your vehicle, but what about bracing it for the dog days of summer? Although frigid temperatures take a toll on your vehicle, warm sunny days can also affect your car’s interior—and paint. Without proper sun and heat protection, you could end up with a patchy paint job years from now.

Fortunately, protecting the finish and paint is fairly simple. By following these easy steps, you can head off heat damage, boost your car’s curb appeal, and protect its resale value!

Wash It

Car washes do more than just keep your car looking clean shiny. Car washes remove dirt and debris that can create miniature scratches on your vehicle’s finish. They also help to remove harmful acidic residues that can cause discoloration or etching over time, like dead bugs or bird droppings. Although you may be tempted to let your car drip dry, this can leave behind mineral deposits that can also damage the paint over time. Use a soft, clean cloth to dry the exterior and remove any water.

Wax It

UV rays can cause the paint to crack and fade, as well as break down rubber, vinyl, and leather. Once your car is clean and shiny, applying wax will add a defensive layer between the paint and the sun. Wax also has the benefit of preventing pitting in the paint and dirt, grime, and other grit from attaching to the finish.

Engine Heat

Heat and light from the sun are damaging to your paint, but what about heat from your engine? As the working temperature of the engine gets hotter during warm summer days, it can take longer for the engine to cool down. In turn, the extra heat from the engine can transfer to the hood and the paint. Ensuring your car’s cooling system is in good working order will help the engine run cooler and minimize the chances of hood heat damage.

Seek Out Shade

Parking in the shade helps keep your interior cooler; it has the same effect on your car’s exterior. By parking in the shade, fewer UV rays can reach the car and the general heat stress is reduced. If there’s no shade in sight, consider using a car cover or sun reflectors in the windows to prevent interior fading and keep the temperature cooler.

Don’t Forget the Interior!

Although we’re focusing on the paint, it’s still worth mentioning that the interior can use some love during the summer, too. The scorching heat from the sun can bake grime into the dashboard and other surfaces. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to use household cleansers (like soapy water) to clean the surfaces, although you can also find auto-specific cleansing products that include UV protection. Check your owner’s manual to see if there are any suggested cleansers (or ones to avoid).

Patchy Paint or Other Exterior Woes? Contact Cline Collision Center!

By following these simple tips, you can protect your car from harmful light and heat and keep it looking great for years to come. But what if your vehicle has paint damage from a collision? Bring it to the pros at Cline Collision Center! With our expert painting services and OEM factory-certified auto body repair on a wide range of makes, we’ll have your vehicle back to its pre-accident condition in no time. And we throw in a complimentary auto detailing! Call us today at 707-591-9909 or request an appointment online.

What Happens When Your Car Is Towed After an Accident?

Accidents are stressful for many reasons, but they’re especially stressful because there are often so many unknowns. For example, if you get into an accident, what happens to your car?

If your car is drivable, you’ll be able to drive away from the scene. If it’s too badly damaged, the police may call a tow truck for you or ask you to call one. If your car needs a tow, there are a few important things you should do before it arrives:

  • Photograph the scene of the accident from multiple angles. Take photos of your car’s exterior and interior, as well as photos of the other vehicles involved. These can be used later for evidence in your insurance claim or a lawsuit.
  • Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s) involved and collect statements from any eyewitnesses at the scene. The easiest way to do this is to ask if you can record them on your phone.
  • Once your car gets towed it may be several days before you have access to it again. Make sure to remove anything of importance or value from your vehicle.
  • If possible, see if your auto body shop can receive the car. This may not always be possible, but it will save time and money to have the vehicle towed to the place you plan on having it repaired.
  • If you have time, call your insurance company. You’ll need to report the accident to them eventually, but your policy may cover tows under certain situations. If tows are covered, you may be required to use a specific towing company. However, if the accident is blocking the road or creates unsafe conditions in any way, there may not be time; the police will contact a towing service as quickly as possible to get the accident cleared.
  • Get the following information from the tow truck driver:
    • Where they’re towing your car
    • How much you’ll be charged for the tow
    • If there are any additional fees you’ll be responsible for paying
    • The cost of storage at their tow yard versus having your car towed to a body shop
    • Documentation, such as a receipt or invoice, before you hand your car over to them

You should only release your car to a tow truck driver who’s been called to the scene. Although it’s unlikely, there is a possibility of a different tow truck company showing up and trying to charge you more. Also, be aware that tow truck scams exist. Contact a reputable company and watch out for red flags like asking for your credit card information over the phone.

Where will the car get towed?

Tow truck with crane solid icon, heavy equipment concept, tow car sign on white background, Car towing truck icon in glyph style for mobile concept and web design. Vector graphics

Once the tow truck arrives, the driver will ask where you’d like to have your car towed. It’s best to specify an auto body shop that you’d like your car to go to, but if it’s after hours or you aren’t sure, the driver will be able to provide some options. If you were incapacitated when the tow truck arrives, the police will request to have the car towed to the nearest salvage yard. If this happens, you’ll likely be responsible for storage fees.

Depending on your policy, your auto insurance may cover towing and storage after an accident. Some plans will only cover these fees if you also have roadside assistance coverage. California is an “at fault” state, so the motorist (and their insurance company) who caused the accident is responsible for paying the damages to the other party, including towing and storage fees.

Even if you’re not responsible for the fees, you should try to retrieve your vehicle as soon as you’re able because insurance companies will only pay for the fees for as long as they seem reasonable. After that time, you’ll be responsible for the bill.

It’s also important to make sure you don’t let your car get towed away before the police arrive at the scene of the accident because they’ll need to write up a report about what happened and the extent of the damage.

Immediate transportation from the accident

After your car is towed, you’ll need to find transportation away from the scene of the accident. If the accident happened close to home, you may be able to get a ride with the tow truck driver – but keep in mind that they’re not obligated to take you. Tow trucks also have limited cab space, so if you have several people with you, this may not be an option.

Some other options are to call a friend or family member, a taxi, or a ride-sharing service to pick you up. If you’re unsure of whom to call, the police can offer some suggestions. If you pay for transportation of any kind, be sure to save receipts, especially if the other driver was at fault – you may be able to get reimbursement.

Rental cars

Likewise, if you need a rental car after the accident, you may be able to receive reimbursement from your insurance company. If you have rental reimbursement coverage, the insurer will typically pay for a rental car until your damaged car is repaired, declared a total loss, or you hit the maximum number of days covered by your policy. Generally, there are both daily and total maximums.

What if you were blameless in the accident? If you don’t have rental reimbursement coverage, you’ll need to open a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance, and an adjuster will work with you to arrange for the coverage. Keep in mind that this process can take several days – sometimes longer. If fault is in dispute, the insurance company may deny your claim, and you’ll need to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed later. If coverage is denied, it may be worth talking to an attorney.

Once you have a rental car, it should be comparable to your vehicle. If you’d like a rental that’s bigger or somehow fancier than your car, you’ll be expected to pay out of pocket for the upgrade. How long you’ll be able to keep the rental car depends on how long it takes for your car to be repaired or declared a total loss. After that, you’ll be expected to pay for the rental.

Need help after an accident? Call Cline Collision Center!

Dealing with every aspect of an accident is stressful – especially navigating the ins and outs of insurance. That’s why we do everything we can to help make your repair process as hassle-free as possible. We’ll coordinate with your insurance on your behalf and are happy to arrange for a rental car for you if needed. As an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) shop, we use only OEM parts and repair methods, so you can have peace of mind that your car is completely restored to its perfect pre-accident condition. We also make it easy for you to track the repair process through our online system, so you won’t be left wondering when your car will be ready to pick up.

We hope you’ll never need a body shop, but if you do, you can rely on Cline Collision Center – your auto body advocates! Contact us today at 707-591-9909 or schedule your appointment online.

Help Your Car Beat the Heat This Summer

Car on asphalt road in summer

High temperatures can be pretty miserable – they can also be difficult on your car. Engines produce a massive amount of heat; paired with extreme outdoor temperatures, hot summer days can lead to overheating and potentially getting stranded along the roadside.

Fortunately, there are a few tips you can follow to make sure your vehicle stays safe and reliable all season long:

Battery

It’s fairly well-known that batteries are affected by cold winter weather, but did you know the summer heat can be even worse on your battery? When it comes to batteries, heat and vibration are the two leading causes of breakdowns and failure. Although there’s not much you can do to keep your battery cool, you can make sure that the battery is well secured to minimize vibration.

Battery fluid also evaporates faster in high temperatures, which can lead to corrosion on the terminals or connections. Clean off any corrosion as needed. While you’re doing that, it’s also a good idea to check that the cable clamps are tight enough to prevent them from moving around.

Is your battery more than 3 years old? If so, it’s a good idea to have it tested by a trained technician to find out how much longer it will last. Typically, most car batteries last between 3 – 5 years.

Cooling System

The cooling system in your vehicle is responsible for keeping your car from overheating. To make sure your cooling system is operating as efficiently as possible, it should be flushed periodically according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. To keep it working its best between flushes, check the coolant level occasionally. If it’s too low, top off the reservoir with a 50/50 mix of water and coolant.

Make sure to check which type of coolant your car needs – there are several different types on the market. Use caution when removing the radiator cap, and never remove it when the engine is hot! The pressurized coolant or steam from it can cause severe burns.

While you’re topping off your coolant, it’s also a good idea to inspect the neighboring rubber components for signs of deterioration. Any hoses or drive belts that have cracks, soft spots, or other types of wear should be replaced.

Tires

Driving on underinflated tires is never a good idea, but hot road temperatures can make them even more likely to have a blowout. Tires typically lose about a pound of air pressure per month, so they should be checked monthly, year-round. Don’t forget to check the pressure on your spare, too!

You’ll get the most accurate reading when the tires are cold. If your tires need more air, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s inflation pressure recommendations; these can be found in the owner’s manual or on the tire information label on the door jam. Don’t rely on the tire pressure listed on the tires themselves – they may not be the correct pressure for your specific vehicle.

Fluids

Most of the fluids in your car work the same way: they lubricate the moving parts and they act as a coolant, pulling heat away from the components. When the fluids are low, they aren’t able to keep things cool as well – and decreased lubrication can lead to friction, which generates more heat and increases the possibility of overheating.

All fluids should be checked periodically, including the engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid. If any of them are low, top them off using the fluid specified in your owner’s manual.

Air Conditioning

Air conditioning definitely makes driving in high temperatures more comfortable, but it also increases your safety by reducing fatigue and preventing heatstroke. If your AC isn’t working as well as it used to, it could be because the refrigerant is low or there could be a leak in the system. Have your AC checked out by a certified technician to determine the cause of the problem. If you have cabin air filters, these should also be inspected and replaced as needed.

Be Prepared for Breakdowns

Routine maintenance can go a long way in keeping your car on the road, but breakdowns can still happen when you least expect them. For this reason, it’s always best to be prepared! All drivers should have an emergency kit in their vehicle, with the following items:

  • Water
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Jumper cables
  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • Road flares or an emergency beacon
  • Duct tape
  • Basic hand tools (socket set, screwdriver, pliers, and an adjustable wrench)
  • A first aid kit

The summer heat may be tough on our cars, but with the right maintenance, you can prevent problems and enjoy a happy season of driving!

At Cline Collision Center, we want you to stay safe all summer long! But if you do run into trouble (or trouble runs into you!) bring your car to us. We use OEM parts and factory repair methods to get your vehicle back to its perfect pre-accident condition. Call 707-591-9909 or contact us online!

What Should You Look for After Collision Repair?

Once your car is ready to be picked up from the auto body shop, you might be tempted to immediately drive away and put the whole accident behind you. But how do you know that your car was repaired properly?

The best step to take is to do an inspection before you leave the shop. Although there likely won’t be any problems, it’s easier to address them while your car is still at the repair facility. So, what should you be looking for? Here are a few tips:

  • If possible, pick your car up during the day and make sure it’s outside, so you can easily see flaws in the paint or other issues. A reputable shop will make sure the areas they’ve repaired are clean, so there’s no dirt present to hide any damage.
  • Look at your car up close and far away – sometimes flaws or damage will stand out with a change of perspective.
  • Examine the paint. Do the color and texture match? Even though the best paint jobs won’t be a 100% match to the factory paint, the new paint should blend seamlessly with no noticeable differences. Also, check to make sure there’s no overspray on areas that shouldn’t have paint.
  • Check the panel gaps (the spaces between the body panels) to make sure they’re even.
  • Open and close the doors, hood, trunk, or tailgate. Everything should open and close easily. Check that your windows also open and close easily if you had repairs on either of the doors.
  • How do the edges between the tires and edges of the fenders look? If the body and the frame are aligned properly, they should match side to side.

Test Drive

If you’ve had any mechanical repairs, it’s also important to take your car for a test drive.

  • Start the engine and look at the dashboard – are there any warning lights? If the vehicle was repaired properly, all the error codes should be cleared.
  • Turn on your headlights while facing a wall; if there are headlight alignment issues, this should be easy to spot. Also, check to make sure your brake lights, blinkers, and hazards are working properly.
  • While you’re driving, pay close attention to your car. How does it feel? Do you notice any odd vibrations or rattling? Does the steering react the way it did before the accident? How about tracking? Does your car stay straight when you brake or does it seem to pull to one side?
  • Throughout your drive, you should also keep an eye on the engine temperature because uncorrected front-end damage can lead to coolant leaks or prevent the radiator from getting enough ventilation to remove heat from the coolant.

Other Considerations and Repair Issues

  • Poor alignment
    If your car is pulling in one direction after the repair, this could indicate that the frame is bent or a misaligned unibody. Although some frames and unibodies can be straightened after a collision, others cannot, and they typically won’t drive straight. Not only does this cause poor handling, but it also can cause rapid tire wear.
  • Clipping
    This is something you definitely don’t want to see on your vehicle! Clipping refers to a repair method where an entire section from another vehicle has been welded onto your vehicle. While this was a common practice decades ago, it’s not recommended for newer vehicles, which are made from lightweight high-strength materials. Welding a new section to a new vehicle could compromise your safety by creating structural weaknesses.
  • Airbags
    Were your airbags replaced? Unfortunately, there have been rare cases of unscrupulous shops charging insurance companies for a new bag, only to turn around and sell it. Check to see if your airbag light is on or if the center of your steering wheel column sounds hollow after your knock on it.
  • Aftermarket and used parts
    Some insurance companies may push for auto body shops to use aftermarket or used parts, which are lower in cost. Unfortunately, these parts may not meet the original manufacturer’s specifications or they may even go against the manufacturer’s recommendations. Ask the shop to show you an invoice or receipt for the parts used on your car. The parts used could make a big difference if you were to get into another accident.
  • Torque
    If you had parts replaced in your suspension system, they need to be torqued to the manufacturer’s specifications. Failing to do so could result in a loose assembly that will affect your handling and performance. Ask the auto body shop which procedures they use when replacing suspension parts and if they can provide the torque specification.

What’s next?

If you’ve inspected your vehicle and aren’t satisfied, make sure to mention this to the shop immediately. A reputable shop should be willing to correct any issues you find.

Of course, the best way to prevent issues in the first place is by choosing the right shop! At Cline Collision Center, we use only OEM parts and repair methods, and we stand by every repair. We perform a thorough check on all vehicles before they’re released, and we’re always happy to go over any and all repairs that were completed on your vehicle. Our goal is always to return your car to its perfect pre-accident condition – and for you to drive away 100% happy!

To avoid common issues and pitfalls with auto body repair, give us a call today at 707-591-9909 or schedule an appointment online!

How to Use Online Reviews to Select an Auto Body Shop

You rely on your car every day, so getting into an accident isn’t only scary – it’s inconvenient. That’s why it matters where you choose to get your repairs. You need your car back quickly, but you also need your car to be properly repaired and safe to drive. Who wants to risk another collision, right after having collision repair?

For this reason, you shouldn’t choose the first auto body shop that appears in the search results. But if you’ve never worked with an auto body shop before, how can you know who to trust with your vehicle? Beyond getting referrals from people you know, online reviews can be very helpful for finding more information to make the right decision. 

Vetting Online Reviews

The first place many people look for reviews online are sites like Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List. Although these are helpful to give you an overall idea about what to expect with service and customer satisfaction, it’s important to understand that not all customer review sites are the same. Some websites will let anyone post a review, regardless of whether they’re a legitimate customer or not. Other websites allow featured businesses to place ads sponsoring positive reviews to increase their visibility.

Another issue with online review sites is that it can be difficult to know if the reviews you’re reading are truthful. Statistically, customers who had a bad experience at a business are far more likely to leave a review than a customer who left completely satisfied. It’s also not uncommon for bad reviews to include some exaggerated points to make the experience with the business sound even worse.

A better option is to search for verified customer testimonial platforms, like Carwise or Auto Body Review. These are specialized sites that only allow real customers to post reviews. If you’re looking for accurate information about what to expect from an auto body shop, a verified customer testimonial platform is the best place to check out.

Websites that specialize in educating consumers are growing in popularity because consumers have shifted to using them to make their purchase decisions – and not just in the automotive industry. Today, nearly 90% of consumers look at online reviews before deciding whether to choose a service or purchase a product. In addition, 84% of consumers trust the reviews they read online – which means most people trust online reviews as much as they would trust a referral from friends or family.

Don’t Forget About Forums!

Keep in mind that forums can also be a reliable source of information that’s just as good as word of mouth. Comments in online forums tend to be a genuine reflection of a people’s experience with shops. Customer discussion forums can also be a channel for communication between an auto body shop and its clientele. Interaction between the two can give you insight into how well the shop stands by its work and how they interact with their customers.

Forums also present an excellent opportunity for the business to respond to customers that may have had a negative experience. Look for companies that obviously care about customer satisfaction and building a relationship with their customers.  

It’s also important to remember that with everything, there’s always room for improvement. Negative reviews aren’t going to be ignored by a reputable company that’s interested in customer satisfaction and improving their work; instead, they’ll take the time to listen to customer advice and complaints and use this feedback to provide better service.

Additional Tips

Here are a few more tips for finding reliable information about an auto body shop:

1.   Look into several different auto body shops in your area.

2.   Ignore posts that are poorly written or that tend to use a lot of capital letters or exclamation points.

3.   Skip reading the really short responses like, “They were great!” Brief reviews won’t give you enough information to understand the type of service and the repair quality you can expect to receive. Instead, look for longer, well-written reviews that include details.

4.   Try to find testimonials that are specific to the make and model of your vehicle.

5.   Do a search on information about the type of repairs you need, and check to see if the shop has a good track record fixing them.

6.   Keep in mind that businesses change over time. If a shop has reviews going back ten years, focus instead on the ones that are more recent – no more than a few years old.

How to Leave an Effective Review for an Auto Body Shop

If you’ve already had collision repair performed on your vehicle, you may want to consider leaving a review to help other consumers make their decision. Here are some things to remember when writing a review:

1.     Leave constructive feedback. Think about what you liked or didn’t like about the service; how can the shop make improvements?

2.     Clearly explain the reasons you were happy or unhappy, such as quality of the repairs, customer relations, policies, etc.

3.     Keep the tone of your review honest, but stay civil – even if you were unhappy with the service.

4.     Be sure to include the dates you had the services performed, along with the make and model of your vehicle and the type of work the shop carried out.

5.     Don’t include links to websites or any personal information.

6.     Read through your review before publishing it to make sure you’ve included all the important information and points you wanted to make.

7.     Update your feedback if needed.

Cline Collision’s Commitment to Excellence

At Cline Collision Center, our top priorities are customer satisfaction and providing safe, high-quality repairs. We value feedback from our customers and continually work to ensure we provide the best possible auto body repair in Sonoma County. From paintless dent removal to extensive collision repairs and aluminum body repairs, we handle it all – and we hold OEM certifications with many of the top automakers. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have about your auto body repair or schedule an appointment with us today!

Do I Have To Talk To Another Driver’s Insurance Company?

If you get into an accident, there’s a chance you might receive a call from the other driver’s insurance company, regardless of who was at fault for the collision. If this happens, it’s important to be cautious about the types of information you share with them.

You Aren’t Legally Required to Talk to the Other Insurance Company

First, you should know that you aren’t legally required to speak with the other driver’s insurance company. Should you speak with them, though? This is a little more ambiguous and depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. In general, you shouldn’t talk to the other company when anyone involved in the accident (you, the other driver, or your passengers) may be making a claim for serious personal injuries. It’s also not recommended to speak with them if you can have an attorney or adjuster from your own insurance company speak with them on your behalf.

When Should I Speak to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company?

In some cases, though, it may actually be a good idea to speak to the other company. One example would be if the accident was clearly the other driver’s fault and they’ve refused to speak to their company or have lied about the circumstances surrounding the accident. In this case, the other insurance company may have no idea who was at fault or the extent of the damage or injuries of either party. In a situation like this, it’s best to speak with the other insurance company because it may take a long time to receive a settlement check. In some cases, if the company has little to no information to go on, you may not receive one at all.

It’s ideal to have your insurance company’s attorney or representative speak to other company, but this isn’t always practical, particularly with minor collisions. If you do find yourself speaking to the other company for any reason, you’ll want to be careful about what you say to them.

Things to Keep in Mind

The most important thing to keep in mind when speaking to the other driver’s insurance company is that, like all insurance, their goal is to pay out as little money as possible. Therefore, they don’t have your best interests in mind. The company would like to find evidence that you were at fault for the accident and that any damage or injury that occurred was minor. Even if this appears to be the case, not all injuries are immediately apparent and some that appear minor initially can end up being more serious over time.

The second thing to keep in mind is that anything you say to the other company could be used to deny you compensation or reduce the value of your claim. For this reason, you should never volunteer any additional information or agree to have your statement recorded over the phone or in writing. This locks down your version of the events – including the extent of your damages or injuries. And since these could be different than what you initially notice, you want to be sure to have some wiggle room.

When talking about what happened during the accident, don’t try to guess or speculate on what happened during the accident. If you’re not sure, it’s alright to tell the insurance company that. If you’re asked to discuss more than just the objective details (like the date of the accident, where it happened, names of witnesses or officers at the scene), request an insurance adjuster from your company to join you on the call or provide them with detailed information and have your adjuster speak to the other company directly. This can prevent potential issues from saying the wrong thing or providing more information than you need to.

Overall, if you’re positive that any of the injuries or damages that occurred were minor and that the other driver was at fault, your best course of action may be to speak with the other driver’s insurance company. Just make sure you don’t give them a reason to question who was at fault or the extent of your injuries or damages. If you’re not sure who was at fault, or you have reason to believe your injuries or damages are more serious, it’s best to avoid speaking to them or to have legal representation first.

The Art of Paint Matching in Auto body Repair

After an accident, you want your car back in good-as-new condition. For an auto body shop, one of the most challenging aspects of that repair is paint matching.

The truth is that you should feel great about what your car looks like when you get it back from the shop. But perfect paint matching does more than make your car look good. It also adds to resale value and allows drivers to return leased vehicles to the dealership with no charge.

Poor paint matching is painfully obvious. A car that has one panel that is a different color from the rest of the vehicle stands out from the crowd—and not in a good way! The mismatched paint can actually make the vehicle look worse than the accident – not the outcome you wanted after paying for insurance and deductibles.

Why Is It So Hard To Match Paint?

There’s a reason that matching the color of your paint is so challenging. When your car was at the factory, the entire body was painted at the same time from the same batch of paint. Though that paint color has a code, there are thousands of variations and shades. Even basic colors such as black and red have dozens, if not hundreds of shades to choose from.

Making it even more difficult, your car’s paint is like skin. Although you don’t notice it until you see it from a new angle or perspective, paint ages a little bit each day. Over times, this adds up and the older your vehicle is, the harder it is to match the paint.

This is where the art comes in. Even if a new batch of paint is mixed to factory specifications, there may still be a noticeable difference. A good technician can change that shade just enough to match the paint as it is, not as it was.

The artistry doesn’t stop there. If, say, a door panel on an older car needs repair, a shop can use blending techniques like lightly overspraying new paint onto old paint to create an unnoticeable transition. In some cases, though, weathering and fading may make it necessary to paint the entire side of the car. Some insurance companies refuse to pay for this. You may have to make a case with your adjuster, or work with your repair shop to include this next step as part of making a quality repair.

What Can You Do To Make Your Car Look Good-As-New?

Of course, even the best shop can’t bring a car that has seen better days back into good-as-new condition without taking some extra steps. You may want to consider getting your car buffed, which will brighten the paint up. This will cost extra but may be worth the money if you want that new car feeling without that new car price.

Accidents are often, at best, unpleasant experiences. It can feel good to put it behind you with a properly repaired car from a professional, reputable shop. When you want to work with an auto body repair shop that stands behind their work, bring your vehicle to Cline Collision Center. We are ASE-certified, have OEM certification from Infiniti, Nissan, Fiat/Chrysler (FCA), Honda/Acura, Ford, Hyundai, and Kia, and have earned Gold Class status from I-CAR. For top-quality workmanship and customer service, including help with navigating insurance challenges, call 707-591-9909 or contact us online today!

What Are the Top 5 Vehicle Safety Features You Should Know About?

There are a lot of things to consider when you’re buying a new or used car – fuel economy, legroom, cargo space, and of course, finding a model that you know you’ll be happy with overall in the long run.

Safety First Sign

One thing that should always be a priority when purchasing a car is its safety features. Although traditional safety features like seat belts, anti-lock brakes, and airbags, are now standard, newer vehicles have also come to rely on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). ADAS is comprised of a variety of electronic safety features that use automated technology (like sensors and cameras) to detect obstacles around the vehicle and driver errors. Some features will sound or display a warning, while others use automated features to correct the vehicle without any action from the driver.

ADAS features vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle. Typically, the more luxurious the model, the more ADAS features it includes. However, as automakers embrace electronic safety features, many of them are becoming more widely available, even on more conventional models. Here’s a look at five of the most important ADAS safety features that will help reduce your risk on the road.

Electronic Stability Control

Electronic stability control (ESC) has been standard for all cars built after 2012. It relies on sensors to help the driver maintain control of the vehicle and prevent skidding or sliding in conditions where there may be poor traction. The sensors monitor factors like wheel speed, sideways motion, steering angle, and rotation to keep the car moving in the driver’s intended direction.

If the car moves outside of this path, the ESC will apply automatic braking on one or more of the wheels to prevent skidding or plowing out. ESC happens so quickly that drivers often don’t even realize there’s a need for steering corrections. Many manufacturers have their own name for the ESC, like StabiliTrak (Buick/GMC) or AdvanceTrak (Ford) but they all work similarly. ESC is especially helpful for taller vehicles that are more at risk for rollovers, like SUVs and pickup trucks.

Blind Spot Monitoring

Blind spots are a major safety hazard. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), blind spots are the cause of as many as 350,000 accidents a year. Blind spots can be due to a fault in the vehicle design or physical limitations of the driver being able to see around the vehicle well. The most common blind spots on most vehicles are near the rear bumpers.

Volvo was the first to develop blind spot monitoring systems (BMS) in 2003; since then, many other automakers have followed suit. BMS systems use a set of sensors mounted on the side mirrors and/or rear bumper to detect vehicles in the adjacent lanes. If the sensors detect a vehicle, they trigger an alert (typically auditory and/or visual, but some models may use vibration as well) to warn the driver. Some models may also integrate cameras into the system along with sensors.

Lane Departure Warning

The lane departure warning (LDW) uses a camera to monitor lane markings and detect when the vehicle strays outside of the lines. It will then alert the driver with a visual or auditory warning so the driver can steer the vehicle back into the lane. While it’s similar to the ESC because it tracks the vehicle’s path, it doesn’t take control of the vehicle in any way. LWD systems have been shown to reduce a variety of accidents, including single-vehicle, sideswipes, and head-on collisions.

Adaptive Headlights

Headlights are one of the most important safety features on any car, but adaptive headlights go a step further than just lighting up the road after dark. Adaptive headlights use sensors to actively respond to changing light or road conditions to provide better visibility and reaction time.

There are several different types of adaptive headlights, but the most common is curve-adaptive. These headlights have bulbs that will pivot to adjust the light depending on the direction of travel (driving up or down a hill, for example) and sometimes according to the vehicle’s speed. Other features that fall under adaptive lighting are headlights that adjust the brightness of the light depending on outside light conditions and automatic switching between low and high beams.

Traction Control

Traction control monitors vehicle wheel slippage and other indicators that could signal a loss of traction. If it detects one of the wheels is spinning faster than the others, the system immediately applies the anti-lock brake system to that wheel or, in some cases, may cut engine power to the wheel. Although automakers are now legally required to include electronic stability control in their vehicles, they aren’t required to include traction control – although most do.

One important thing to remember about this feature is that there are some conditions where it won’t work, like driving on a sheet of ice. It can only provide traction in instances where the tires would already have some, like wet roads, gravel, or other uneven, loose, or soft surfaces. For that reason, you should still reduce your speed and take turns slowly when driving in slick conditions. Traction control tends to be most effective when accelerating from a stopped or slowed position, or when trying to accelerate up a slippery hill.

Accidents Can Still Happen…

There are many other ADAS safety features that aren’t on this list, but hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of some of the most important ones and how they work. Unfortunately, no matter how many safety features your car has, accidents can still happen – and if they do, Cline Collision Center is here to help! We use OEM parts and repair methods to restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition and ensure all safety features remain intact and functioning properly. We’ll also handle the insurance coordination to ensure the repair process is streamlined and hassle-free. Contact us today at (707) 591-9909 or schedule your appointment online.

When Do I Need To Change My Tires?

Tire Tread

Though tires can be an afterthought, they are the critical contact point between your car and the road. Properly-inflated tires with plenty of tread increase fuel economy, and more importantly, might be the difference between avoiding trouble or running into it.

Car manufacturers now recommend replacing tires after 6 years. The composite material used to make your tire ages over time. As this material becomes compromised, the likelihood of blowouts and flats increases. This can be dangerous, especially if the blowout occurs at high speed.

How Do I Know How Old My Tires Are?

You can use the four-digit Department of Transportation (DOT) code on your tire wall to find out when the tire was manufactured. The first two numbers stand for the week in the year it was made, and the next two are for the year. For example, if your tire has “2516” printed on it, then it was manufactured in the 25th week of 2016.

It can be tricky to find the date code. Though it’s usually preceded by the initials DOT, there are sometimes other numbers and letters after DOT. Look for a set of four digits ending with two numbers that are recognizable as a year.

Don’t Tread Lightly

Of course, age isn’t the only reason to change your tires. The depth of the tread is also crucial. If you drive your car regularly, you will likely wear down the tread before your tires get too old. When you routinely stop and start quickly, drive in extreme temperatures, or on rough roads, your tires will show signs of wear even sooner.

Aside from giving you an uncomfortable ride, worn-down tires can cause you to slip on wet surfaces or might be the slim difference between a close call and an accident.

Here Comes The Change

A penny and quarter are your friends here. If you insert a penny into the tread and can see the top of Abe Lincoln’s head, you have less than 1/16th of an inch—less than the safe minimum to drive. When you use a quarter and see George Washington’s head, it means you have less than 1/8th of an inch of tread, which is more than the minimum safety standard but considered to be the time to start thinking about new rubber for your ride.

Treat Your Tires Right, and They’ll Treat You Right

In addition to taking it easy on the accelerator and brakes, proper tire maintenance can extend the lifespan of your tires. Be sure the air pressure is correct and stay up with tire rotations.

No matter how well you treat your tires, though, accidents happen. When they do, call the experts at Cline Collision Center. We are committed to integrity, honesty, safety, and craftsmanship. Whether you have major damage or need a quick fix to get you safely back on the road, choosing Cline Collision Center is no accident – contact us online or call 707-591-9909 today!