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An angry-looking man talks on his cell phone, with his wrecked car visible in the background.
Everyone who has experienced a wreck has questions about their car repair process. We’re here to help.

After a car wreck, most drivers have questions. The process can be overwhelming, especially if it is your first time experiencing a wreck with car damage.

You are not alone with body shop questions. The more you know about collision repair, the easier and more efficient your experience will be.

How do I find a reliable body shop?

Most people go to an auto body shop based on recommendations, which can be very helpful. Your insurance agent may also recommend a body shop. Take these recommendations into consideration along with your own research.

Should I use my insurance’s recommendation?

Insurance companies have a list of direct repair shops (DRP). The insurance companies regularly monitor these body shops to make sure they still meet their set criteria. If you choose to have your car repaired by the recommended DRP, the shop can begin the repairs without waiting for the insurance adjuster. This makes your car repair process more efficient.

Is the shop certified?

Close up of a man writing on a clipboard in a garage, with a car with an open hood in the background.
If your auto body shop is certified, it is more likely to have more qualified technicians working on your vehicle.

Before taking your car to a body shop, find out if the shop offers certified collision repair. This means manufacturers train the technicians to repair that specific model of vehicle.

If your car is new, find out how often technicians train. This gives you an idea of their experience on the newest vehicles.

How much will repairs cost?

The biggest question you may have is how much the repairs will cost. Most shops will not provide an estimate over the phone. Technicians need to see damage for a general idea of the repairs needed.

However, at Ellis & Salazar Collision, an Austin body shop, a Smartphone Estimating Tool is available to find out a quick approximate cost of repairs. Drivers snap a photo, send some information, and get an estimate.

This estimate is not a final cost and the amount can change once a technician thoroughly looks at the car for any damage that isn’t immediately visible. It can, however, give you an idea of your cost.

Ellis & Salazar has been providing body shop repair in Central Texas for more than 60 years. We are ready for any questions you may have about the repairs and process. Use our estimating tool for a free estimate or give us a call to schedule your repair.

For more car how-to’s and information, visit Ellis & Salazar on Facebook.

After a car accident, a driver must decide whether or not to repair his or her car. To determine repair costs, and find out if your car is totaled, you’ll need to find an Austin collision repair shop.

Insurance company declared my vehicle totaled – Now what?

An Austin body shop will inspect the damage and provide a repair estimate to the insurance company. If the insurer determines the repair cost is more than the current value of the vehicle, the insurer declares the car totaled and will not pay for the repair.

At this point in the process, it helps to understand your insurance policy. Know what to expect in terms of your coverage for a car that is not repairable. This helps you understand what kind of payment they should provide. If you disagree with the insurance company’s assessment, do some research before contacting your agent. Take a look at prices online for your year, make, and model of vehicle. Talk with used car dealers for their estimate, and also let your insurance agent know of any custom or additional features on your vehicle that may add to its value.

Repairing a totaled car

If the vehicle that was wrecked was a daily commuter, repairing the car may not be important. However, some cars hold a sentimental value for owners, whether they are classics, a handed down vehicle from a loved one, or a first car.

When a car owner wants to repair a totaled vehicle, let the insurance company know soon after the car is totaled. The insurer will take out the car’s salvage value from the total it was going to pay for the current value. A salvage title will be necessary to drive the vehicle again. The repair costs will be your responsibility and not your insurance company’s.

At Ellis & Salazar Automotive and Collision, we provide collision repair Austin, our team of technicians understand what it takes to repair vehicles with extensive damage and to make the car safe to drive again.

For more information like this, visit us on Facebook.

An outside view of two dash cameras attached near the top of a windshield.
Dash cameras are becoming increasingly popular, filming the outside or inside of a car while driving.

We live in a world where much of what we do in public is on camera. If you go inside a business, you may be on a security camera. When attending events, you may be in someone’s video from a smartphone. And now, more drivers use dash cameras than ever before. Many people use them in their personal vehicles to capture various perspectives while driving.

There is not a specific law in Texas that pertains to dash cameras. However, there are privacy and driving laws that drivers using a dash camera should know.

Privacy rights

With cameras that surround us in public and people using their smartphones, it is easy to forget that we do have rights to our privacy.

Recording video from a dash camera while driving is not against the law in Austin, as long as it is hands-free. Mount the camera on the dash and never maneuver it while driving. If you are recording audio, remember the privacy laws in Texas regarding consent to being recorded with audio.

Also, it is not against the law to record a traffic stop, or any interaction with police, in Texas.

Keep a clear view

If your dash camera is mounted on the dashboard or on your windshield, do not put it in a location that blocks your view. Make sure your camera doesn’t prevent you from seeing vital road signs, pedestrians, or other vehicles.

Also, never depend on a dash camera as your view for driving. The camera can serve as a different perspective of what you see while driving and can become an extra set of eyes, but should not be relied upon for safety.

Benefits of accident video for a collision center

Close-up of a front bumper and headlight, dented and misaligned.
Dash cameras can help drivers when talking to car repair technicians and their insurance.

Drivers who get into a wreck can provide the video footage to their body shop for repair technicians to review. Technicians can then have a better understanding of the impact to the car and possible damage.

The video can also be helpful for insurance agents, determining blame for an accident, or viewing your driving behaviors that may have caused the crash.

At Ellis & Salazar Automotive and Collision, a body shop in Austin, we have provided high quality collision repair to vehicles for more than 60 years. The more details you have regarding the accident can help our technicians provide the most accurate repairs to your car so you can get back on the road.

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Teen driver sits behind the wheel with her mom in the passenger seat.
Teen drivers are susceptible to accidents. Getting them a reliable vehicle can both reduce their risk of a crash, and risk of injury if they do get in a crash. (Photo courtesy State Farm)

Getting a driver’s license for the first time is an exciting milestone in a teen’s life. It signifies many things, including responsibility. Parents and driving instructors emphasize safe driving, because a teen has less experience behind the wheel. This makes choosing safe vehicle for your teen driver even more important.

Parents can rest easier knowing their teens are driving a car that will keep them safe during a collision. The majority of teens drive used cars for their first vehicles. Regardless of year, make, or model, there are other safety factors to consider.

Research vehicles before choosing

Woman sits at a laptop with her hand on her cheek, looking thoughtful.
Doing your research before buying a teen a car can help you make a confident decision.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) releases safety ratings on vehicles that can be helpful to find the right model of vehicle for a new driver. When considering vehicles, look up their safety ratings and reliability.

A teen may have an idea of what they would like to drive. The reality is that teens have probably not yet considered safety. For instance, a first-time driver may feel more comfortable driving a smaller car, but vehicles that are heavier can take a hit better than smaller vehicles in an accident.

Parents should also consider vehicles with less horsepower if they think their driver may be tempted with speed. Electronic stability control will help the new driver have greater control if they lose control of a car.

When you think you have found a car for your teen driver, check to see if any recalls have been issued. If so, find out if the recall repairs have been made.

Finding a local auto body shop

Once the search for a safe and reliable car is over, it’s a good time to research body shops, and look for ones that offer certified collision repair. Most people do not get in accidents regularly and have probably not thought about finding a local collision repair shop in case an accident should happen. Having a plan can help you and your teen be prepared.

Ellis & Salazar Automotive and Collision, has helped parents and teens with collision repairs for more than 60 years. Our goal is to make the process hassle-free. Now it’s easier than ever to get the free estimate using the Smartphone Estimating Tool.

Image courtesy Creativity 103.

Winter weather rarely brings bad driving conditions to the Austin area, but when it does it finds many who live here unprepared for driving in bad weather conditions.  Refreshing your memory about driving safely on icy and snowy roads can keep you from needing a visit to your local auto body shop.

How to Drive Safely on Icy Roads

1)      Make sure your vehicle is properly equipped.  Do your tires have plenty of tread on both the front and back?  Poor tread means less traction and increased likelihood of spinning out.   Are your windshield wipers and defroster keeping your windows clear for maximum visibility?  Check your brakes before heading out to be sure they’re responding properly.  If your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, be sure you know how to properly activate ABS during a skid.

2)      Drive slowly.  Leave as much space as possible between your vehicle and those around you.  Allow plenty of time for accelerating and braking and be very aware of your surroundings.  Extra space can mean the difference between properly maneuvering your car to avoid a collision if a vehicle near you begins to slide.

3)      Remember that black ice looks like regular water.  What may look like a small puddle could actually be a hazardous patch of black ice.  It’s most common during the early morning and late evening when the roads no longer absorb enough heat to keep water from freezing, but during extreme cold it can be present in the middle of the day.  Read ahead on how to properly respond when you find yourself driving on black ice and your quick response could save you and your vehicle from being in an accident.

4)      The safest way to keep from getting in an accident during bad weather is not to drive.  Even if you’re prepared, those around you may have less experience driving on slick roads and if the vehicle next to you spins out of control, you can find yourself involved in a collision that wasn’t your fault.

Hazardous road conditions are pretty rare in Austin, but they do exist.  Making sure your vehicle is equipped for driving on bad roads, taking extra time and being aware of how your vehicle responds differently on ice can help ensure that you arrive safely at your destination.  If you do find yourself involved in a wreck, give us a call.  We’re a locally owned body shop and we’ll get your car fixed up and back on the road with unmatched customer service.

There are several ways you can use the internet to determine whether the shop you’ve chosen, or the one that’s been recommended to you, is a good choice.  Making the right decision will ensure that you’re back on the road in your newly repaired vehicle quickly and with very little headache.  The ultimate choice about which body repair shop will work on your vehicle is up to you, so doing your research before you choose is a good idea.

If you own or drive a vehicle, chances are one day you’ll find yourself shopping around in Austin for an auto body repair shop.  Trusting someone you don’t know to repair one of your most prized possessions after a car accident can be a daunting task.

By doing your research before going with the first shop you find or hear about, you’ll make the entire process go smoother and save yourself a lot of headache in the long run.

There are several ways you can research an auto body shop to be sure they have a good reputation.  Armed with the internet you’re ready to do a little digging!

1)      Check with the BBB

Your first stop should be the Better Business Bureau website.  BBB was established to provide consumers a way to locate businesses that have proven themselves as trustworthy providers in their area.  Most reputable businesses are registered with the BBB, and you can look up any business and see their rating for free.

2)      Read Online Reviews

From there, check out online review websites.  There are many to choose from.  Yelp is a popular place for people to leave reviews.  You can also learn more about the body shop you’re considering by searching their name with ‘Google Plus Reviews’ as part of your search.  Google now promotes business ‘plus’ pages directly in search results, and they’re a great way for customers to read reviews about local businesses.  Angie’s List is another reputable review site.  It requires a paid membership to participate but provides more information and has a reliable network of qualified reviewers that many find worth the minimal subscription fee.  Finally, don’t forget to check out the shop’s Facebook page.  Recent changes mean that Facebook users can now leave a review with a rating of 1-5 stars, which shows up directly on the business’s Facebook page.

3)      Ask Your Friends

Check with your friends, family and co-workers.  Odds are most of them have had an experience with a body repair shop at some point and most people are happy to share their experience with you.  Ask them about how comfortable they felt with the people working at the shop.  Was the shop honest and trustworthy?  Were the repairs completed properly and on time?

Once your car has been repaired after a car wreck, leave a review online and tell your friends about your experience.  Pay it forward and help others benefit from your experience!

Owning a car means that at some point it’s likely you’ll need a trusted auto body shop in Austin to come to the rescue and repair damage to your vehicle.  Many people wait until they’ve been in a car wreck to start looking for a collision repair center, but the best time to establish a new relationship is before you need it!

Any time your car needs repairs, whether they’re mechanical or involve body damage, it’s a stressful time.  Dealing with insurance, car rental and the hassles of being without your usual vehicle can be a big inconvenience.  Planning ahead and having a personal connection with a collision center in Austin will save you the headache of starting your search while you’re already stressed out.

Still not sure? Here are five compelling reasons to spend a little time doing your homework beforehand:

1)      When you have a wreck, one phone call gets you a fast and free tow.

2)      Once your car is in the shop, they’ll help you find a rental car and be on your way as quickly as possible.

3)      An established relationship with a trusted collision center means you don’t have to waste time asking all your friends and reading online reviews.  You’ll be back on the road sooner if you already know who to turn to!

4)      As a valued customer, you know you’ll receive the best possible service.  No waiting around wondering if there will be delays.

5)      Working with a local business provides peace of mind that you’re supporting your local economy.

Spend a few minutes today to look up online reviews and check out what’s available.  Google+ is a great way to find out which body shop is closest to home.  You can also find valuable information on auto body shop reviews on Yelp and Angie’s List. Make a quick note in your phone contacts or on your tablet device and you’ll be ready to get help when you need it.  Your Austin body shop should be a trusted ally, not a headache waiting to happen.  Arm yourself with some research and information beforehand and you’ll have an established friend ready to help when you need them.

Almost everyone agrees that talking on your cell phone while driving is dangerous.  Texting while driving is even more hazardous.  That doesn’t stop people from doing it, which means car accidents as a result of distracted driving are on the rise.

The statistics about car accidents caused by distracted driving are startling.

Most drivers think any cell phone use while driving impairs your ability to drive as safely as if you were undistracted.  Yet 52% admit to using their cell phones while driving.  Austin car accident incidents increase when people use their cell phones while driving, it’s that simple.

TxDOT reported that distracted driving, including cell phone use, contributed to over 90,000 car accidents in Texas in 2012.  These accidents resulted in 453 deaths, many of which could have been prevented if drivers had been responsible cell phone users.

What is a responsible cell phone user?

Operating a vehicle is an activity that requires concentration and attention.  To effectively navigate safely to your destination without getting in a car accident it’s important to remain undistracted.

Tips to be a responsible cell phone owner while driving:

1)      When using GPS to navigate, program your device prior to driving.  To prevent car accidents, don’t alter its programmed destination without pulling over.

2)      Put your cell phone where you can’t reach it.  Place it in the back seat or trunk.  It can’t distract you if you can’t see it.

3)      Turn off the sound.  No text message, phone call or e-mail is so important that it can’t wait until you arrive at your destination.  None of those messages or calls will matter if you don’t arrive safely and without getting in a car wreck.

4)      If you must use your cell phone, find a safe place to pull off the road.  Studies have proven that even voice activated texting and hands-free talking while driving are not safe alternatives.

5)      Ask a passenger to answer your phone or respond to text messages on your behalf while you’re driving.

6)      Install an app that prevents you from using your phone while your vehicle is moving.  If you don’t trust yourself to resist the temptation, there’s an app for that!

7)      Join thousands of others who have taken the pledge to not text while driving.  A popular local Austin television station recently ran a lengthy campaign in support of ‘X the Text’ hoping to reduce the incidence of Austin car accidents.

In addition to safety concerns, in many areas using your cell phone while driving is against the law.  If you live in Texas, you can learn more about texting while driving laws in Texas by visiting the TxDOT website.

Safer driving  means fewer Austin car accidents.  Don’t try to defy the odds, increase your odds of arriving safely by being a responsible cell phone owner while driving.

 

Brakes are one of the most important mechanical functions our vehicles perform.  They are used multiple times every time we get in the car.  We rely on them to be responsive when they’re needed.  All this wear and tear means that making sure our brakes are working properly is very important.

Due to the frequency of use, brakes are designed to alert the driver when they need to be replaced.  One of the most common symptoms of brakes that need to be replaced is a squeaking or grinding noise when stopping.  This is caused when the brake pads have been used so many times that they begin wearing out.

In the early stages, the sound means the brake pads are wearing low and should be replaced soon.  Continuing to drive your car can cause more extensive damage as the brakes start wearing on the rotors.

Ignoring the warning signs and damaging the rotors means much more costly brake repairs.  In addition, poorly functioning brakes can lead to car accidents.  Equipment failure, such as brakes going out, accounts for a large majority of the wrecks caused as a result of mechanical problems.

As brakes wear out, they become less responsive.  In heavy traffic, like we frequently see in Austin, car accidents can happen if you need to stop quickly but your brakes don’t have the ability to stop your car fast enough to avoid an accident.

If an accident occurs as a result of your inability to stop, it’s likely you will be liable for the wreck and therefore responsible for collision repair on not only your vehicle, but the other driver’s car too.  It’s much safer and cheaper to be aware of the warning signs that your brakes need repair and to address them quickly.  Proper car maintenance will keep your car running smoothly and will save you money in the long run.

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