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Don’t Drive with One Eye Closed, Replace that Headlight!

Driving at night without your lights is dangerous and reckless, and you shouldn’t do it, agreed? This is because you need to see as far down the road as possible to avoid running into something avoidable.

Cracked Windshield

Driving with a headlight out is at least half as careless then, isn’t it? In fact, driving at night with anything less than the most light possible can result in hitting unexpected objects or animals in the road or not seeing an upcoming turn until its too late.

Aside from injuring yourself or someone else and the damage you can do to your car, you can also get pulled over when a headlight is out. Nobody needs the hassle and cost of a fix-it ticket. So what do you do when you notice your headlight is out?

Replace Those Bulbs

One rule-of-thumb is if one bulb is out, the other isn’t far behind. Go ahead and replace them both. Newer bulbs are up to 30% brighter than older bulbs and can give you up to 25% more visibility. That might be the difference between slowing down to avoid a deer or colliding with it because you never saw it. There are three types of bulbs to choose from to give you better night vision:

  • Halogen: Halogen headlights use a special filament mixed with halogen gas to generate a much brighter light than conventional headlights.
  • Xenon/HID: Instead of using a heated filament, Xenon headlights use gas. Xenon lights are brighter, have a lower operating temperature, and last longer. Unfortunately, they can be more expensive, and professional installation may be recommended.
  • LED: The advantage of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have over halogen bulbs is that they draw less power to operate, run cooler than halogen lights, and last much longer. Most newer vehicles come equipped with LED headlights from the factory. These last so long that you’re probably not even reading this article!

When Bulb Replacement Isn’t Enough

Over time, your lenses can get dirty with a buildup of dirt and grime. It’s good to clean them off from time to time to maximize your ability to see at night. Unfortunately, no matter if it is night or day, you might find yourself in a fender-bender. When that happens, bring your car into the experts at Cline Collision Center. We are committed to integrity, honesty, safety, and craftsmanship. Whether you have major damage or just need a quick fix to get you safely back on the road, we like to say that choosing Cline Collision Center is no accident! Contact us online or call 707-591-9909 today!

Parking Dos and Don’ts

Dings. Dents, Scratches. Stains. Fading. Parking anywhere but inside your garage can be rough on the exterior of your car.

But you can’t spend your whole life at home. How do you drive out into the world and worry less about what parking will do to the look and future resale value of your vehicle?

Park farther away

Occupied Parking Lot

Finding that spot right next to the entrance can feel great in the moment, but it can expose you to all sorts of trouble. Every car is jockeying for those close spots, and you will also have more pedestrians and carts squeezing into the narrow spaces between vehicles.

Your best bet is to park farther away and take a nice long walk to the entrance. It will put extra steps on your Fitbit and keep your car from getting banged into by all that car and foot traffic.

Avoid Danger Zones

There are definitely better and worse places to park, and we want to outline a few of the most harmful to your car’s exterior:

  • Trees—It makes sense when you think of it. What lives in trees? Birds. Aside from chirping and flitting about, birds spend a fair amount of time pooping. If your car is parked under a tree, you increase the chances of getting bombed. Bird droppings are acidic and, left unwashed, can damage your paint. There are also sap, seeds, branches, fruit, and other potentially damaging items falling from trees, so avoid parking under them.

  • Playgrounds and athletic fields—Balls flying. Kids running and riding bikes. Parking right next to playgrounds and athletic fields can bring you closer to the action, which is not necessarily a good thing. Park as far away as possible to avoid the hassle and cost of having a foul ball dent in your hood.

  • Parking Garages—Set your sights higher when it comes to parking structures. The top floors, with the farthest walks, are always less crowded and cleaner. You’d think you expose your car to more bird poop on the top floor, but birds often nest in parking lot rafters and can make just as much of a mess of your car on lower floors.

  • Intersections and 4-way stops—Accidents happen, and intersections are the most typical place for a car to get smashed. Don’t make it easy for a distracted driver to plow into your car. Try to find a place where cars aren’t so likely to run into you.

Think before you park

We want your car to look beautiful and hold onto its value, which is why we urge you to think before you park. If your car is damaged, bring it into the pros at Cline Collision Center. We are ASE-certified, have OEM certification from InfinitiNissan, Fiat/Chrysler (FCA), Honda/AcuraFord, 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!

Ask George or Abe? How Much Tire Tread is Enough?

Maybe you’ve noticed. The cost of goods and services keeps going up. We’ve noticed, too. Though we do everything we can to keep prices down, there’s one area where inflation isn’t just acceptable. It’s preferable.

The tire tread test.

Close Up Of Tire Tread

We want you to be safe and avoid trouble as much as possible. This means having tires with plenty of tread on them. For years, the recommendation from automotive experts was to use a penny to check tire tread wear. The idea was to hold a penny so that you can see the front of it. With Abe Lincoln upside-down, go ahead and rest the penny in the tread grooves. If you can see honest Abe’s whole head, then you only have 1/16” or less of tread remaining.

For decades, this has been called the Penny Test and signified that it was the time to replace your tires. 

Automotive specialists have been rethinking that rule. It may not be enough in the most critical situations. You need more grip on the road when you have to come to a sudden stop on a rainy day. The latest research shows that on a slick road, 1/16” of an inch might not stop you until it is too late! That’s why we no longer advise you to use a penny.

It’ll cost you a quarter now!

Remember, George Washington didn’t lie about the cherry tree, and he certainly won’t lie about your tires. Run the same test with a quarter. If our first president’s whole head is visible, it means you have less than 1/8 of an inch—and it’s time to get a new set of tires.

Once you get your new tires, be sure to keep them properly inflated. Also, don’t forget to have them rotated every 5,000 to 6,000 miles. We want you and your tires to safely roll down the road for miles and miles.

This doesn’t always happen, though. If you run into trouble, or trouble runs into you, call Cline Collision Center. We will help you navigate insurance and are ASE-certified, with OEM certifications from NissanInfiniti, Fiat/Chrysler (FCA), Honda/AcuraFord, Hyundai, and Kia. We have earned Gold Class status from I-CAR, a designation that lets you know that everyone who touches your car is highly trained and understands new vehicle technologies and repairs. If you value integrity, honesty, safety, and craftsmanship, call 707-591-9909 or contact us online today!

Do I Have A Say In How My Car Is Repaired?

There is nothing better than jumping into the 2004 Nissan Xterra you’ve had since high school graduation, and heading out to the beach, right? But, bummer, dude, you just got into a fender bender. Now the ocean is a distant dream and your trusted friend needs some love. Where do you go to make sure your car gets fixed right? Did you know that not all replacement parts are created equal? That some parts are of higher quality than others?

Not all people know that the type of parts that collision repair shops use makes a significant difference in the quality of repairs you get. If you want to make sure your Nissan will soon be looking good and get you back out to the surf, then catch this wave and read on.

What is OEM? Why Are These Parts Better?

Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts are made by the car’s original manufacturer. It is what was installed by the factory when your car rolled off the line. An aftermarket part is made by another company and designed to look and function like the original. Some companies focus on building exceptional quality aftermarket parts that they can sometimes be even better than the original. Unfortunately, for many other parts makers (and the shops that buy them), price is much more important than quality. These cheap knockoffs might not fit your car and definitely won’t last as long or be as safe.

How do I know if I’m getting OEM parts?

Do I Have A Say In How My Car Is Repaired

One way is to purchase an OEM endorsement, a clause in your insurance policy that guarantees the repair shop uses OEM parts. You pay extra for an OEM endorsement, but without this, insurance companies will try to steer you toward shops that use aftermarket parts. This works out well for insurers because these repairs cost them less. It’s not as good for you. Parts not made by the manufacturer may not look quite right. Worse, though, aftermarket parts can also fail and cause your vehicle to become unsafe.

Are there other ways to guarantee I am getting OEM repairs?

You can take your beloved Xterra or any other car or truck to Cline Collision Center. We are ASE-certified, with OEM certifications from NissanInfiniti, Fiat/Chrysler (FCA), Honda/AcuraFord, Hyundai, and Kia. We have earned Gold Class status from I-CAR, a designation that lets you know that everyone who touches your car is highly trained understands new vehicle technologies and repairs. We will also help you navigate insurance. If integrity, honesty, safety, and craftsmanship are important to you, too, call 707-591-9909 or contact us online today!  

Just Asking: Questions for Your Auto Body Repair Shop

Just Asking Questions For Your Auto Body Repair Shop

You just surfaced from the initial stages of an accident. First, the sudden realization of impact. Then, if there was another party involved, the exchange of information. Next, notifying your insurance company.

Now, it’s time to pick an auto repair facility to bring your vehicle to. Where do you go? How do you determine the quality of work and customer care you’ll receive?

Though we can’t promise how other shops run their business, you can get a sense of their commitment to best practices by asking some simple questions. We love it when clients take the time to research how seriously we take our mission to provide high-quality workmanship in a timely manner with 100% client satisfaction. Here are some questions you can ask:

How long will the auto body repair take? 

This is probably the #1 question we are asked. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear answer because there are so many variables, especially the extent of the damage. Though the industry average is much higher, we take 3-7 days for the average repair. This is because we have built-in efficiencies with highly-trained technicians and advisors, fast parts procurement, and up-to-date tools and equipment.   

What kind of warranty comes with their auto body repair work? 

You need to feel confident the repair will last. For us, this is pretty simple. We warranty all repairs for as long as our customer owns the vehicle – anything less just won’t cut it!

How do I get around while my car is in the shop? 

We have a partnership with Enterprise to give our customers a discounted rate on rental cars.

Do you carry fire and theft insurance so that my car is covered by insurance while it is in your shop? 

Though not likely at our shop, you need coverage in case your vehicle is damaged, destroyed, or stolen while being repaired. We carry this coverage so you can rest assured.

Will the paint match the rest of my car? 

There is only one acceptable answer to this question—Yes! Our approach for color matching is to blend adjacent panels to the one that we’re repairing or replacing. Cars have a paint code that tells us the exact color of the carmaker’s paint, but there is an art to this, as well as science. We also have to account for fading and variations at the time of manufacture. At Cline, you will be 100% satisfied with your repair!

How soon can I wash my car after an auto body repair? 

Every auto body shop should return your car to you immaculately clean. But, you should be wary of a shop that tells you to hold off on washing it any time soon. We bake cure every vehicle that we refinish at 150 degrees, making it immediately ready for everyday use, including getting out the microfiber towels and giving it a good scrub.

Do you put everything in writing? 

Reputable shops provide an itemized written estimate for auto body repairs and, upon completion of repairs, a detailed invoice. The estimate and invoice must also identify all parts as new, used, aftermarket, reconditioned, or rebuilt. There should never be surprise charges for towing or storage services. We provide you with a detailed estimate before repairs and a detailed final bill once we complete repairs, including the written lifetime warranty.

Can I view repair updates online? 

Yes! We gladly supply our clients with ongoing information on demand at Check My Repair Status.

What is the payment policy? 

Reputable auto body repair shops post their payment policies. We accept credit and or cash from clients, as well as checks from insurance companies.

Conclusions

Of course, the recommendation of a trusted acquaintance or reviews can also help you make your decision. By any metric, we are sure you will find that we measure up. We bring a commitment to integrity, honesty, safety, and craftsmanship to our relationship with you. You are, after all, our friends and neighbors!

Understanding the Basics of Car Painting

The latest colors shining brightly—there’s no doubt that paint sells cars. Even though it is a big reason why you might like or dislike a car, very few clients know how cars are painted and how that affects collision repair.

Hopefully, the damage to your car is covered by insurance and isn’t costing you anything beyond the deductible and the time invested. Most people just want their car back in pre-collision condition, and don’t really care how that process plays out. Still,  having as much knowledge as possible is always helpful in understanding what your repair specialist is doing. The following are some paint basics—we won’t call it a primer because, as you will soon see, that might get confusing!

Eco-friendly Paint is Better Paint

In the last century, manufacturers used lacquer paint on vehicles. Painted on and then treated with a hardener to make it stick, this process was not environmentally friendly. Up to 85% of lacquer paint evaporated into the air, sending lead, chromium, and other heavy metals into the atmosphere, where it rained down on our homes, crops, and waterways.  

Understanding the Basics of Car Painting

Carmakers developed water-based enamels in the 1990s. Applied first, the primer creates a smooth surface by leveling it out. Primer protects the vehicle from corrosion and damage from rocks and other road debris. The base coat is next—it is what probably what you call “the paint,” giving your car the desired color. Sprayed over the top of the base coat, clearcoat is the final step. How glossy do you want it? Clearcoat  transforms the paint, changing the flat base coat into the shiny, rich color that gives new vehicles the allure car sellers and buyers want.

It turns out that waterborne paint is cleaner and brighter than the old-school stuff,  healthier for anyone who works around it, and better for the planet, too!

Match Game for Cars

If you only need a small portion of your vehicle touched up, we mix paint that matches so perfectly that the repair is undetectable. We have to take into account any fading that might have occurred from age and sunlight exposure, as well as any differences between the color listed by the carmaker and the actual color used. For highly complex paint, such as metallic or tri-coat peal finishes, we may have to paint a larger portion of the vehicle to ensure matching, such as the entire bumper, door, or hood. Plastic bumpers can be especially tricky since paint darkens at different rates on plastic vs. steel.

Of course, paint is just part of the job. The prep work is just as important. We take the time to remove existing layers of paint and fix all scratches, gouges, dent, pits, rust spots, or holes before painting. We may even have to remove interior components, including the dash, console, and even the seats. All of this takes time. Though we know how inconvenient it is to have your car in the shop, it is even worse to have your life disrupted and end up with second-rate repairs. We make sure the value of your vehicle remains the same, or is even increased by our high-quality work.

When you have autobody damage, go to the pros at Cline Collision Center. We are ASE-certified, have OEM certification from InfinitiNissan, Fiat/Chrysler (FCA), Honda/AcuraFord, 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!

The New Ford F-150 Dazzles with its Aluminum Body and Advanced Technology

Carmakers are beginning to note the advantages of aluminum over conventional steel, such as decreased weight and environmental impact, as well as increased rust resistance and durability during crashes. At Cline Collision Center, we have the technology, tools, and training to repair aluminum bodies.

This includes the Ford F-150, which just revealed the dazzling array of features available on its next-gen 2021 model.

Technology

Do you need access to the latest technology while driving a half-ton of payload down the road? The new F-150 will come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also, it will be capable of receiving over-the-air software updates that are more than just infotainment improvements. The company promises that the updates will be bumper-to-bumper and support preventative maintenance, reduce trips to the repair shop, and provide improved performance, resulting in less vehicle downtime.

Advanced Driver-Assistance

The New Ford F-150 Dazzles With Its Aluminum Body and Advanced Technology

The hands-free driving feature, called Active Drive Assist, will make the F-150 one of the few vehicles, including the Mustang Mach E, in the US with hands-free driving. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to play Clash of Clans while driving just yet. Active Drive Assist will only be available on divided highways mapped by Ford. Customers must purchase extra software and hardware, including a driver monitoring system with an infrared camera to scan your face to ensure you’re keeping your eye on the road.

You don’t have to go all-in on hands-free driving, though. The standard Co-Pilot 360 driver assistance system comes with automatic braking and pedestrian detection. You can also add options such as adaptive cruise control, lane centering, post-collision braking, trailer backup assist, and more.

Hybridized

The hybrid version will utilize the company’s fourth-generation hybrid technology—a 47 horsepower electric motor that boosts acceleration and allows you to get around 23 miles per gallon. Ford will sell the hybrid F-150 in rear-wheel and all-wheel drive, connecting electrical components to a twin-turbocharged V6 engine and recharged by the energy created when the truck engages its brakes.

As sophisticated as the vehicles of today are, especially aluminum-bodied vehicles, you need experts on your side when you are looking for autobody repair. Aluminum can’t be reshaped the way steel can, and we have the advanced factory-training and experience to do repairs right. It’s also important to note that steel dust corrodes aluminum, which is why we have a completely separate workspace and set of tools to work on your Ford F-150. For all questions about autobody repair, either aluminum or traditional steel, call Cline Collision Center at 707-591-9909 or contact us online today!

How Understanding Your Insurance Policy (Including the Fine Print!) Can Save You Money

If you own a car, you’re required by law to have a current auto insurance policy and keep proof of insurance inside your vehicle. Like many, though, you probably haven’t spent a lot of time diving into the details of your policy. Many people don’t understand even the basics of automobile insurance. Here’s a short course (not a crash-course!) to get you up to speed on what’s in your policy and how it affects you when you get in an accident.

Your policy usually consists of five different sections:

How Understanding Your Insurance Policy Can Save You Money
  • Declarations contain unique information such as the name and address for each driver in your household, the make, model, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of each vehicle, the policy number, and duration. It also spells out the type of coverage you have, including policy limits and deductibles. You’ll want to make sure that the information you provide your insurer is accurate—they can deny your claim if you have misrepresented any key facts.
  • Coverage Parts/Insuring Agreement outlines the options and limits that you purchased, such as liability, medical, collision, and comprehensive. This section tells you what your insurance company promises you in return for your payment.  
  • Exclusions detail what is not covered. By highlighting the limitations of your policy, the insurance company tells you exactly what is covered when you make a claim. Knowing these exclusions allows you to make changes that strengthen coverage. 
  • Conditions are the legal responsibilities of the insured and the insurer, such as premium payment obligations, steps for filing a claim, and methods for resolving disputes.
  • Definitions, often referred to as the “fine print,” explicitly defines the terminology used in the document and include the rights of the insurer and the policyholder.

Making Informed Decisions

So, now that you know the building blocks of your policy—how does having a greater understanding help you make better decisions about cost and coverage? Here are just a few critical areas to examine:

  • Collision coverage covers the loss to your vehicle when it is in an accident. Choosing the correct deductible can be a real balancing act. You pay a lower premium for a higher deductible. This is great if you never or rarely get in an accident. On the other hand, it can cost you a lot of extra cash if you have a high deductible and find yourself with multiple claims. How many miles you drive, the kind of driving you do, and your ability to remain focused at the wheel can help determine whether you need a higher or lower deductible.
  • Liability covers the property and medical losses of another party if you’ve cause an accident, including legal fees. Bodily injury covers items such as medical costs and the lost salaries of someone you have injured, while property damage pays for repairs to vehicles and other property. In California, the minimum bodily injury coverage is $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. Property damage is $5,000 minimum. Higher amounts of coverage raise premiums but can protect you when damage is more costly. Remember, you’re on the financial hook when you cause an accident, and insurance can protect your assets in the event of a crash.
  • Coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists covers you up to the policy limits when you incur damages, and the driver either has none, or too little, insurance and limited assets that you can recover. Like every aspect of insurance, having too much insurance that you never use and having limited coverage when you need it can cost you.

Make sure to keep yourself adequately covered and read the fine print of your policy to make the best choices possible for you and your family. It is also critical to know where to bring your vehicle if you get in an accident. We use only high-quality parts and provide outstanding workmanship to return your vehicle to you in pre-collision condition. For the best choice for Sonoma County autobody repair, contact Cline Collision Center online or call us at 707-591-9909 today!

Can You Keep Your Car (and Yourself) Safe during a Pandemic?

You need a dependable car but COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. How do you keep your family healthy and your car running safely? As car care professionals, we have some thoughts on how you can accomplish both of these as you navigate the new “normal.”

Let It Run

Can You Keep Your Car Safe During A Pandemic

Cars don’t do well when they are parked for long time-periods. Batteries lose their charge, tires get flat spots, and rubber components such as belts and wipers dry out. 

Take your vehicle for a 20-minute or longer drive at least once per week. This ensures the battery is charged, wears the rust off the brake discs, and keeps the calipers from seizing. It’s not just your car that can use a break. Getting away for a few minutes can improve your mental health, too! 

Lengthening Out Service Intervals 

If your engine light is on, bring it to a shop as soon as you can. But you can stretch out service intervals when you are not subjecting your car to harsh driving conditions.  

When you bring it into a shop, ask them about their coronavirus procedures. Are they taking it seriously – disinfecting surfaces and your key fob? If you can, wait three days before picking up the vehicle since the latest data show that the virus can exist on some surfaces for up to several days, depending on conditions. When you pick it up, wipe down the door handle, interior surfaces, and fob before driving home. 

DIY Service 

  • Oil Level: Check the level before you start your car, make sure that it’s on level ground. If the oil is low, go ahead and top it off. Just be sure you’re using the oil recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Tire Wear: Insert a quarter into the tread with Washington’s head upside-down. If you can’t see the top of his wig you are good-to-go. If you can it means you have less than 1/8-inch of tread and need to start thinking about replacement. Though tires must be replaced when tread dips below 1/16-inch, braking distances are significantly impacted once you have less than 1/8-inch.

  • Air Filters: These are easy to check and replace. Take a look under the hood for the air and cabin filters—use the owner’s manual if you can’t find them yourself. Changing these filters saves you money and allows the intake of healthier air, for the engine and passengers!

  • Wipers: Did you know that wipers are intended to last 6 months? You can get more service out of wipers by washing them with a paper towel moistened by glass cleaner. Why not check the windshield fluid level while you’re at it? If it’s low, you can purchase fluid at auto parts stores and most convenience and grocery stores.

At Cline Collision Center, we work hard to make sure you are safe. When you run into trouble—or, trouble runs into you—we offer superior craftsmanship and use only quality parts. This commitment to your well-being includes following the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols. Call 707-591-9909 or contact us online for the very best in Sonoma County autobody repair!

How Can You Tell If It’s the Right Auto Body Shop?

You have lots of automotive body shops to choose from. How can you sort out the good from the bad? Then, how do you choose between the good and the best?

How Can You Tell If Its The Right Auto Body SHop

Most people can’t tell a wire welder from a squeeze-type resistance spot welder, making it impossible for most folks to look at a shop to see if it is well equipped. But you should look to see if the shop is relatively clean and organized. Just because autobody work is messy and dirty doesn’t mean the work area shouldn’t look professional.

Are their plaques, certificates, or affiliations on the wall or website? Are they members of trade organizations and training programs? Here are some to look for:

OEM Certification 

Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) certification means that a body shop has been acknowledged to only use factory-approved parts. It also means that the facility has the correct equipment to install those parts, and uses only factory-approved procedures. OEM-certified shops offer high-quality repairs that have been approved by automakers, giving you the professionalism you need and the price break and convenience you want. Cline Collision Center is proud to say we’ve hard to get these designations, which include certifications from InfinitiNissan, Fiat/Chrysler (FCA), Honda/AcuraFord, Hyundai, and Kia

I-CAR Training

The Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) is a non-profit training organization focused on improving collision repair. They make the necessary knowledge and skills to complete repairs accessible to anyone in the industry willing to work hard enough. We are proud to have earned Gold Class status from I-CAR, proof that we have achieved the highest level of training possible.

ASE Certified: The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) tests and certifies automotive repair professionals to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service. This takes the guesswork out of automotive repair. You don’t have to “hope” you’re going to a reputable shop. Instead, it lets you know you are going to a shop staffed with professionals committed to understanding your vehicle and keeping up with always-changing technology.    

Certifications and honors are all well and good, but you need results. That’s why, when you have autobody damage, you should come to the pros at Cline Collision Center. We  provide top-quality workmanship and customer service, including help with navigating insurance challenges. Call 707-591-9909 or contact us online today!