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Tips for car care

I-CAR Gold Class Professionals

Car accidents can befall unwary victims at any time. After taking care of any personal injuries you may have suffered, taking care of your car's injuries should be next. It is important to recognize the safety hazards associated with driving an improperly repaired vehicle.

Your car is designated to protect you in an accident, according to Barbara Cellini, who along with her husband Tom, owns Broadway Auto Body Rebuilders in South Chicago Heights, III. If after an accident your car is not repaired correctly, it may not properly protect you and your family if you are involved in another collision.

Today's unibody cars have many advancements that didn't exist only a few years ago. As auto makers have introduced new technology, the equipment and technical training needed to repair vehicles has changed as well. Keeping technicians up to date with technology through training is what I-CAR, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, is all about.

I-CAR is an international not-for-profit organization that gathers information about collision repair from major auto makers like BMW, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Volvo; from collision repair businesses across the country; from insurance companies; and from makers and suppliers of tools, equipment and materials used to repair cars.

The purpose of this network is to raise the quality, safety and efficiency of auto collision repair for the ultimate benefit of the consumer.

I-CAR provides the following "shopping list" of items to look for when searching for a quality collision repair shop.

  • Equipment.
    The shop will need a three-dimensional measuring system to measure the height, width and length of the car's structure. Because this structure supports all steering and suspension parts, these points of the car must be repaired to factory measurements. In most cases, these are very strict - 3 millimeter. That's no more than the thickness of three dimes.
  • Cleanliness.
    Avoid shops that are not clean, neat and well lit. If you see tools, bent fenders, nuts and bolts, masking tape and other garbage lying haphazardly around a shop, it tells a lot about the people's attitude and work habits. Cleanliness is essential because dirt and other debris will show in fresh paint.
  • Professionalism.
    If you feel comfortable while visiting a shop, the chances are greater that you'll be satisfied with their work. Most good shops also offer some form of written warranty on their workmanship. Be sure to ask about warranties before work has been done. Know and understand the terms and limitations, and be sure to get them in writing.
  • Technical reference materials.
    Make sure the shop has the technical reference materials needed for your car. The technology and materials that go into today's vehicles makes specialized knowledge a must.
  • Damage report.
    Ask if the shop gives a written estimate report before starting the repairs. This becomes the "blueprint" for repairing your car and gives you an idea of costs and time needed for repairs before any work is done.
  • Training.
    Look for signs and certificates that indicate that the shop has been properly trained. To assist consumers in identifying shops that have invested in training, I-CAR has established Gold Class Professionals. The I-CAR Gold Class Professionals are collision repair businesses and insurance claims offices that have more than 80 percent of their employees I-CAR trained.

    These businesses support the I-CAR philosophy of restoring vehicles to their pre-accident condition for the benefit of the consumer. They recognize that training is an ongoing process based on the rapidly changing automotive technology. They show their level of training commitment by requalifying for the Gold Class Professionals honor every year.

For an I-CAR Gold Class Shop near you, call 1-800-565-ICAR.

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