All posts by Mandy Beroza

The Importance of Replacing Car Seats

Did you know that car seats expire? Yes they do and it is very important that you are aware of the expiration date on your child’s car seat. There is a reason that car seats have an expiration date and you should pay attention to them.

Car Seats Do Expire

Each and every car seat has an expiration date which is listed on a sticker somewhere on the car seat. The car seat expiration is based on the date of manufacture not the date of purchase or beginning of use. Most car seats expire in 5 years some in 6.

Car seats can become unsafe when they expire. There is a reason why car seats are given an expiration date and it is not just to get your money. The car seat does become damaged in ways you may not see. The plastic shell degrades and warps due to the changing conditions, the harness begins to wear and the Styrofoam can degrade. All of these things make your child less and less safe. The plastic can even become so brittle that is shatters on impact.

Replace Your Car Seat After an Accident

Minor fender benders do not count but anything remotely damaging to the car could be very damaging and compromising to the car seat. Good news though most insurance companies will pay to replace your car seat when you have been in a crash.

Facts

In these tough economic times, a hand me down car seat can seem like a dream come true but be careful. Make sure you check the expiration date and get a full crash history. Saving money is not worth risking your childs life.

Not sure if your car crash warrants replacing the car seat? Here are the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) guidelines for reference: NHTSA recommends that child safety seats be replaced following a moderate or severe crash in order to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers. NHTSA recommends that child safety seats do not automatically need to be replaced following a minor crash. Minor crashes are those that meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site
  • The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged
  • There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants
  • The air bags (if present) did not deploy
  • AND There is no visible damage to the safety seat

Updated Michigan’s Move Over Law

Michigan’s Move Over law was expanded early this year to help further protect emergency responders on area roadways. Since 2001, the law has required drivers in the lane closest to those stationary emergency vehicles to move over, if possible, to give those responders more room to work.

Now, the law also requires that all drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles with lights flashing to slow down to at least 10 mph below the posted speed limit. The law now also applies to any maintenance and utility vehicles such as tow trucks, construction vehicles, garbage trucks.

Lt. Mike Shaw, spokesperson with The Michigan State Police, said this law is about drivers paying attention and being aware of what’s happening around them.

“If you see someone on the side of the road, move over a lane and give them a chance to get done what they have to do,” said Shaw. “If you end up driving down the roadway and killing an emergency responder, it’s not only the fines and prison time that will get you. You will have to deal that for the rest of your life.”

Anyone who breaks this law could receive a civil infraction subject to a $400 fine. Significant fines (up to $7,500) and prison time (up to 15 years) could happen if the violation results in the injury or death of a emergency responder.

Shaw said with an increase in distracted driving comes a decrease in the number of drivers moving over. “People are sticking their cellphones out the window trying to record whatever is happening on the side of the road,” said Shaw. “If you’re not paying attention, you will inevitably hit someone out there.”

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,450 people were killed in accidents related to distracted driving in 2016. Thanks in part to driver awareness and legislation, that number fell to 3,166 in 2017. However, it’s likely that number isn’t accurate, given that drivers are often reluctant to admit that they were distracted at the time of the accident. Agencies, such as the NHTSA, suspect the actual number of deaths is much higher.

Though you should be mindful of common driving distractions year round, take this month to remind yourself of common driving distractions and how you can avoid them. Here are a few of the most common distractions for drivers.

Cell Phones

Cell phones are obviously one of the biggest when it comes to distracted driving. You might think that glancing at your phone for a few seconds can’t be that bad, but if you’re driving 55 miles an hour, in the five seconds it takes you to glance at your phone, you will drive the length of an entire football field.

Many states have passed laws regarding distracted driving that prohibit texting and/or talking on a cell phone while driving, especially for novice drivers. Regardless of what the law is where you live, it’s important to avoid using your cell phone while driving as much as you possibly can. Many cell phones now have an option to automatically turn on a “Do Not Disturb” mode while driving. This can be a huge benefit to drivers who feel they’re often distracted by incoming calls, texts, or other notifications on their phones.

Food and Drink

Anything that prevents you from having your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel can be a driving distraction, and eating or drinking while driving qualifies. Aside from requiring the use of your hands and your eyes, eating or drinking while driving can present the additional risk of causing a spill, which creates another distraction that can catch drivers off guard.

Other Passengers

Talking to other passengers is another common distraction for drivers. Children are a common distraction, particularly younger children, as they often divert their parents’ attention from the backseat.

Audio

Getting too absorbed in whatever you’re listening to, adjusting the volume levels or changing the station or audio source can all be sources of distraction for drivers.

Certain states have outlawed the use of headphones, earbuds, or other kinds of headsets while driving due to their potential to distract drivers or inhibit their auditory awareness of their surroundings.

Zoning Out

Zoning out and being generally distracted or lost in thought is one of the biggest causes of distracted driving related crashes. Many drivers have experienced what’s known as highway hypnosis, a phenomenon in which the driver travels a distance and arrives at their destination having no recollection of how they got there. This kind of behavior is especially common with routine commutes. Often, the driving seems so comfortable and routine that our mind wanders, rather than paying strict attention to the task at hand.

These are just a few common distractions drivers face, but there are numerous other things that can distract drivers. Be mindful of what your common distractions are and make an effort to reduce them, for Distracted Driving Awareness Month and all year round!

Paintless Dent Removal (PDR): Common Questions

What is Paintless Dent Removal?

Paintless dent repair is a method of removing dents from vehicle sheet metal using specialized manual tools and carefully applied pressure. It doesn’t take much for a mark to be left behind after a car bump or accident.

Fortunately for drivers, paintless dent removal is growing increasingly popularity as a way to save time and money while restoring their car to its original appearance.

How Does Paintless Dent Removal Work?

The goal is to push the indented metal back into shape while preserving the paint. In most cases, PDR requires you to access the back side of the dent, which means carefully removing body panels, tail lights, or in some cases, interior panels.

Once we have access to a dent, it’s time to perform the PDR repair. This is where the precision and expertise of a trained technician comes into play. Using specialized tools, the technician starts at the dent’s outer edge and slowly massages the metal back into position. The damaged area gets progressively smaller until it virtually disappears.

Can Paintless Dent Removal be Done on all Dents?

Unfortunately, no. Below are examples of situations where a PDR repair cannot be done:

  • The dent has sharp edges or torn metal.
  • The paint inside a dent is broken or scratched.
  • The indented metal is situated near the edge of a panel.
  • The dented area has had previous body work done.

What are the Advantages of Paintless Dent Removal?

  • Quick repairs
  • Cost-effective
  • Flexibility
  • No paint color mismatches
  • Eco-friendly

What’s the Difference Between a Auto Body Shop and Mechanic Shop?

When considering whether you need auto body or mechanic repairs, many people make the mistake  of assuming that mechanics are qualified to perform all auto repairs.

Mechanic   Shop

When a car needs repairs, especially following a collision, the first stop for most people is a mechanic. They never consider whether they need an auto body vs mechanic. For cars with no body damage, a mechanic is the best place to go. They have the tools and expertise to remove and replace damaged components to get your car on the road again.

Mechanics can evaluate all of the mechanical systems and make necessary repairs. If the vehicle doesn’t have body damage and the owner needs an engine light checked or some engine noises looked at, a mechanic is the way to go. For anything involving the vehicle’s appearance, it’s time to move on to an auto body shop.

Auto Body Shop

For cars with body and mechanical damage, an auto body shop is the best option. Like mechanics, body shops have the tools and knowledge to make the vehicle safe to operate. They can also perform the necessary body repairs to get the vehicle looking like it did before it was damaged.

Auto body repair is about much more than just removing and replacing parts. The entire appearance of the vehicle needs to be evaluated to make it look like it did before the collision. Even a low-speed collision can cause changes to the entire body of the vehicle. Panels can shift and twist far from the point of impact.

An auto body shop can evaluate these changes and determine the best approach to restoring the appearance of the vehicle.

Can’t I Just Do The Repair Myself?

Anyone can look at a dented fender or cracked bumper and decide that it doesn’t look right. What about the body panels opposite from the point of impact? While not directly damaged, they still suffered through some of the same impact forces as the fender or bumper. They could have moved or deflected, causing misalignment or damage to the paint.

An auto body shop can check to ensure that other parts of the auto body are still properly aligned, and that there’s no hidden damage. Removing and replacing a single panel doesn’t ensure that the rest of the car will look the way it’s supposed to.

While a mechanic certainly has the tools and know-how to replace a body panel, they don’t offer paint services. To get the panel replaced and also get the car looking like it’s supposed to, you need an auto body shop.

An auto body shop can repair the body and match the existing color of the paint, providing a finished product that looks like it’s always been on the car. This is an important step, as the color of a car fades and new panels must be painted to match the paint on the rest of the vehicle.

 

In the end, it isn’t about who does better at their job. Auto body shops and mechanics both have extensive training and experience in their fields. While these fields have some overlap, they’re not interchangeable. Deciding whether to have repairs performed by auto body shop or a mechanic is about deciding what repairs are needed and what results are desired.