How to Determine if Your Car Needs Frame Straightening

The damage a car sustains in an accident isn’t always apparent. After all, a dented door from being T-boned could be purely cosmetic, or it could impair the function of the door. Worse, the entire frame of the car may be bent. Even low-speed impacts can damage car frames because impact-absorbing crumple zones are built into newer frames with the intent of saving lives.

It may still be possible to drive a car with a misaligned frame, but you do so at your own risk. After all, much of the vehicle’s structural integrity could be compromised. If you get into a serious collision with a bent frame, you risk more severe damage to the car and a greater potential for injuries. For this reason, you should seek frame straightening as soon as possible.

The best way to check for a bent frame is to take your car to a local auto body repair shop. You may also be able to spot a bent frame by watching for these warning signs.

Visible Damage on the Exterior of the Car

The first place to check is the outside of the car. Walk around it and look for creases or cracks in the exterior. If these areas are rusted, it could mean a bent frame has been ignored for a while. Next, look under the car. Lift it on a secure jack and crawl beneath the vehicle to check for visible parts of the frame under the chassis. Look for bent or cracked sections that indicate damage.

Parts Not Aligning Properly

A warped frame may prevent moving parts of the vehicle from aligning properly. The doors may refuse to shut, even if there are no visible problems with the latches, and the windows may get stuck when they roll up and down. Other bolted and mounted items may also show signs of stress or damage.

Excessive Vibration

A bent frame throws off the balance of an evenly weighted vehicle, placing additional stress on one side. One symptom of this is excessive vibration that seems worse on one side of the car than the other.

Uneven Shock and Suspension Wear

Throwing off the weight of a vehicle also puts additional strain on the shocks and suspension system—but only in some places. If you notice that these components are wearing out unevenly, have your frame checked.

Vehicle Pulling to One Side

A bent frame causes wheel alignment issues. Here’s an easy way to test your alignment: pull onto a straight stretch of road and slowly take your hands off the wheel. If the car pulls to one side, this means the wheels are misaligned. Try having the wheels realigned at an auto body shop. If the mechanic can’t fix the problem, ask them to check the frame.

Unusual Noises When Driving

Listen for new creaking, squeaking, or other unusual noises that weren’t there before your recent accident. The sounds may come from anywhere in the car, depending on where the frame is bent.

Increased Tire Wear

Tires may wear out unevenly for many reasons, including a bent frame. If you rotate your tires regularly, but they are still wearing unevenly, have your frame checked. Ignoring this problem raises the cost of replacing your tires and could increase the risk of a blowout.

When in doubt, bring your car to B&L Automotive Repairs, an auto body repair shop in Chicago, IL. Our knowledgeable mechanics can determine if the frame bent in a recent collision. Then, we can perform professional frame straightening to help your car drive normally and dependably once more.

To request information about frame straightening and other collision services, please contact us online or call (773) 463-1622. You can also drop your car by our shop today to receive a repair estimate.

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A Guide to Car Insurance Claims

If you were recently in a car accident, filing an insurance claim can help you cover the cost of repairing your vehicle. Insurance agents and adjusters deal with this every day, but this is probably only the first or second time you have ever gone through the process. Use this guide to car insurance claims to help ensure a smooth process.

Collect Information at the Scene of the Accident

First, make sure everyone is okay. If anyone is injured, call an ambulance. Even if there are no serious injuries, call the police. Having an officer record the details and compile a police report will prove useful when you file your claim.

Next, exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Collect the following:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Insurance company name and policy number
  • Driver’s license number
  • License plate number

You’ll also want to document the accident and any injuries before they’re cleaned up so you can prove the extent of the damage. Taking photos is the best way to do this.

Provide Information to Your Insurance Company

Call your insurer as soon as it’s safe to do so. You may have a better chance of answering all your agent’s questions if you call from the scene of the accident. Be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Facts about the other drivers involved (see the list above)
  • Location, time of day, and weather conditions when the accident occurred
  • Names and badge numbers of the officers who responded to the incident
  • Copy of the accident report
  • Photos of the vehicle damage (may need to be emailed later)

Ask About Your Insurance Coverage

Make sure you understand your coverage before you pay for anything out of pocket related to the accident. Here are the most important things to clarify:

  • The deductible: This is the amount you owe before insurance benefits take effect. For instance, if your deductible is $1,000 and you accrue $2,500 in damages, the insurance company will reimburse you $1,500.
  • Transportation expense coverage: You may be eligible for a free tow truck to get your car to a shop, as well as a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. Review your policy to check for coverage and limits.
  • How a total loss is determined: 22 states, including Illinois, don’t assign a specific threshold percentage for designating a car as “totaled.” Instead, they use a total loss formula, which accounts for the cost of the repairs plus the scrap value of the vehicle. If this number is equal to or greater than the actual cash value of your car before the accident, it is considered totaled.
  • Gap insurance: If you still owe money on your car, it’s wise to have gap insurance. This requires the insurance company to pay off your auto loan if the car is totaled in an accident.
  • Time limit for submitting a claim: If you wait too long, you could forfeit benefits for vehicle repairs and medical bills. To avoid this possibility, file the claim as soon as possible.

Work with an Insurance Adjuster

Once you report the accident and file a claim, your insurance company will issue you a claim number and assign you an adjuster. This specialist will work with you to get your claim settled. Here are the kinds of things to expect from your insurance adjuster:

  • Arrange for a tow truck and/or rental car, if covered by your policy
  • Investigate the circumstances of the accident
  • Speak with other people involved and their insurance companies on your behalf
  • Recommend a repair shop where you can take your car if you choose
  • Review and approve repair estimates
  • Go over potential injury claims and handle payments
  • Answer any questions you have, such as when your claim will be paid out

Repair Your Car

Never accept, offer, or approve any car repairs until your insurance company gives the all-clear. In fact, it’s best to hand over control of the entire process to your adjuster to ensure you don’t pay for expenses that are not approved for reimbursement.

Let the insurance adjuster work with the car repair shop and share the estimated cost with you. Once you and the adjuster agree on the price and the work to be done—including the use of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) vs. generic parts—the repair can begin.

Be aware that your insurer might pay the car repair shop directly, or pay you and let you handle the bill. Either way, have your claim number with you when you bring your vehicle in for repair to speed up the process.

Decide How to Proceed if the Car is Totaled

If the repair estimate plus the scrap value of the vehicle exceeds what the car is worth—in other words if it’s totaled—you’ll need to decide how you wish to proceed:

  • You can go forward with the repair, but you’ll be responsible to pay the difference between the cost and your car’s value.
  • You will receive an offer from your insurance company for the actual cash value of your car, minus the deductible, in exchange for surrendering the totaled vehicle. You can put this money toward the purchase of a new car. If you owe more money on the car than it’s worth, gap insurance should help pay off the rest of your auto loan.
  • You may be given the option to collect a lower claim payment and keep the totaled car for your own purposes, such as tinkering with or salvaging it.

Tackle Any Problems with Your Claim as They Arise

Insurance companies are supposed to help their clients, but it doesn’t always go smoothly. If you have difficulty communicating with your adjuster, contact your agent directly. You can also ask your insurance company about how to submit a complaint.

If you feel as though your insurance company is neglecting you or taking too long to reimburse you, contact your state commissioner’s office to learn what can be done. Only after all of these attempts to resolve the issue should you consider hiring a lawyer.

If you are unhappy with the service you received, you may want to look into changing insurance companies. Be aware, though, that finding coverage at or below your current rate shortly after getting in an accident could prove difficult, even if you weren’t at fault.

B&L Automotive Repairs has experience working with car insurance companies. We’ll facilitate the claims process so you can go about your busy schedule until your car is repaired and returned to you. Bring your vehicle to our Chicago auto repair shop for an estimate, or give us a call at (773) 463-1622 for more information.

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Road Trip Safety with Kids

Summer is here, and for many families that means it’s time for the great American road trip! If you’re hitting the road with your kids this year, be forewarned that your car is going to become just as much a living space as it is a vehicle. To safely travel with your kids, you’ll need to do a little bit of childproofing ahead of your trip.

  • Take your car for a check-up. Your car needs to be in good working order before you entrust it with your precious cargo. Stop in for a tune-up and have your tires, battery, belts, fluids, and air conditioner checked out by a qualified mechanic.
  • Get some sleep before you get behind the wheel. Prepping for a road trip can be hectic, but make sure you get a full night’s rest before starting your drive. Drowsy driving contributes to 100,000 accidents each year, so you should only drive when you’re well-rested. If there’s another adult along for the ride, try to switch off driving every few hours. Here’s another trick: use good posture. Sitting up straight can help keep you awake and alert.
  • Give your car seats a once-over. Did you know that 8 of 10 car seats and booster seats are installed incorrectly? If you’re not sure yours are installed correctly, call 866-SEAT-CHECK to find a location where you can go for a free inspection.
  • Be prepared for emergencies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises people to keep a safety kit in the car, with water, warm blankets, a flashlight, jumper cables, flares, tools to change a tire, a fully charged cell phone, and a first aid kit. Additionally, it’s wise to have a subscription to a roadside assistance plan, so you’ll have help in case of an emergency.
  • Protect your family from the sun. Everyone in the car should have sunblock and sunglasses. For little kids, sun hats offer great protection, as does a sunshade for the backseat. Keep the car seats covered with blankets when you leave the car, so that they don’t get too hot. Before buckling in your kids, check the seatbelts and car seat buckles to make sure they’re not hot to the touch. Remember that the inside of a parked car can reach deadly temperatures in a matter of seconds, even when the temperature outside is only 80 degrees. For that reason, you should never leave kids (or pets) alone in your car.
  • Inspect the back seat before you load up the car. Child safety locks should be activated on the doors and windows. Make sure there’s nothing hazardous in the back seat, like washer fluid or loose change that could poison or choke. Don’t keep hard toys or books loose in the car, because they could become projectiles in an accident.
  • Secure your luggage. Anything heavy should be stored low in the seat wells, and anything stored in an open cargo area should be secured. Just like a toy with a hard surface, these can become projectiles if you slam on brakes suddenly.
  • Break your trip into manageable chunks. Every two hours or so, take a quick break to use the restroom, switch drivers, or just stretch your legs. Drinking water is a good way to stay alert, and it will also necessitate more frequent bathroom breaks.
  • Be careful with your eyes at night. Oncoming headlights can be hard on the sensitive receptors in your eyes. Keep your eyes focused on the right shoulder of the road, and you’ll be able to see oncoming traffic in your peripheral vision. If you’re on the road with a lot of other cars, try to pay attention to at least ten cars in front of you.
  • Get off the phone. Even hands-free phone calls can be dangerous because they’re distracting. Here’s an interesting fact: the part of your brain that processes moving images slows down by about a third when you’re listening to something. You don’t want to miss anything while you’re driving, so save the phone calls for later.

We hope you have a safe and happy road trip, making fun memories with your kids. If you find that your vehicle needs any kind of repair, contact B&L Automotive Repairs. A family-owned business, we have over 30 years of experience handling every kind of body and mechanical repair, and we’ve even got a play area to entertain the kids while you wait. Our expert staff is continually trained and updated, and our state-of-the-art equipment allows them to serve you with the highest level of expertise. No matter what make and model you drive, or which insurance company you use, we will provide fast and reliable service to make sure your needs are met. Call us today at (773) 463-1622, or contact us through our website for more information.

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Signs You Need New Tires

Figuring out the lifespan of your tires isn’t as simple as determining how long you’ve had them. You also need to pay attention to more than just the tread depth. Learn what makes tires wear out and how to tell when you need new ones.

Why Does Tire Tread Matter?

There are two main reasons why you should worry about the tread on your tires:

  • Safety: Tires are a vehicle’s single most important safety system. The condition of the tread determines how fast your car accelerates—and how effectively it brakes. If your tires are wearing out, the tread may not be able to handle wet or icy conditions.
  • Legal reasons: Driving with worn-out tire tread is illegal because of the safety issues associated with bald tires. Illinois, along with most other states, requires a tread depth of at least 2/32”.

Why Do Tires Wear Out?

The mileage you can expect from your tires depends on a combination of factors, including:

  • Road conditions: Roadways aren’t perfect. Driving over potholes, speed bumps, loose rocks, and sharp objects can increase tire wear. Hitting curbs and other obstacles also shortens the lifespan of your tires, as does driving through oil, road salt, and other chemicals.
  • Driving habits: Peeling out and skidding to a stop increases friction between your tires and the road, which wears out the rubber faster. Going over the tire’s speed capacity or load index could also cause catastrophic failure.
  • Improper inflation: If the pressure is too low, more of the rubber comes in contact with the road, which could cause rapid, uneven tread wear. If the pressure is too high, the tire could overheat at high speeds, increasing the risk of a blowout.
  • Neglected maintenance: Have your tires rotated, aligned, and balanced every time you get an oil change. If you swap out your tires for different seasons, store the unused ones in a cool, dry place until you need them again.
  • Improper use: Driving with winter tires in the summer or summer tires on snowy, icy roads will wear them out sooner. Mixing tire types and combining incompatible wheel and rim sizes are also bad ideas. In addition, driving faster than 50 miles per hour with a spare is not recommended, as this could damage the rest of your tires.

How to Tell If You Need New Tires

Even with excellent care and maintenance, you will need new tires eventually. Keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Low tread: The easiest way to tell that you need new tires is by examining the tread. You know it’s time for a replacement if the rubber has worn below the recommended tread depth of 2/32”. Most new tires have wear bars built into them. These indicators run perpendicular to the tread so you can tell at a glance when the tires are wearing out.
  • The penny test: If you can’t locate the wear bars, conduct a penny test. Insert the coin somewhere on the tread with Lincoln facing downward. If part of his head is covered, your tires still have some life left in them. However, if Lincoln’s entire head is visible above the groove, your tire is worn out and needs to be replaced. Repeat this test in several places on all four tires to find out if they pass or fail.
  • Uneven wear: If you have neglected to rotate your tires, the tread may be wearing unevenly. If a single spot fails the penny test, the tire needs to be replaced. Make sure your wheels are properly aligned to help prevent uneven wear in the future.
  • Visual damage: The tread isn’t the only part of a tire that can wear out. Act quickly if you notice cracked or bulging sidewalls or cords peeking through the rubber. These problems can increase the risk of a blowout or fire, making the tire unsafe for driving.
  • The feel of your tires: Pay attention to how your tires feel as you drive. A rough ride may indicate tire damage or excessive wear. If you often get stuck when driving on icy roads, your tires may lack sufficient grip, making winter driving a hazard until you replace your tires.
  • Age: Even if you don’t drive much, exposure to temperature fluctuations and UV rays can cause structural changes in a rubber tire. Therefore, regardless of tread wear, many manufacturers recommend getting new tires after six to 10 years. You should also replace your spare tire every 10 years, even if you’ve never used it.

The collision repair specialists at B&L Automotive Repairs offer expert wheel alignment and computerized tire mounting and balancing to help your tires last as long as possible. For more information about our services, or to schedule collision repair in Chicago, please call us at (773) 463-1622 or contact us online.

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Spring Car Maintenance Checklist

Winter is a tough season for your car. Your tire pressure is probably low, road salts have likely accumulated on the undercarriage, and potholes may have thrown off your wheel alignment. Now that winter snow has turned into spring rain, it’s time to get your ride ready for new driving challenges. And just in time—April is National Car Care Month, so give your vehicle a thorough once-over. This 15-point checklist will make sure you don’t miss a thing.

  1. Install new wiper blades: There’s nothing mild about winter in Chicago. Revitalize your windshield wipers so they’re ready for wet spring weather. This is a task most people can handle without a mechanic’s help.
  2. Top off your fluids: Speaking of windshield wipers, make sure your washer fluid is topped off. Check the coolant level as well, and if needed, add a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water while the engine is cool. Other fluids that need your attention include the engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid.
  3. Test the battery: Cold weather is hard on a car battery. If the engine sputters to a start, headlights seem dim, or windows roll down slowly, the battery might be dying. To avoid getting stranded, have your battery tested and replace it if the charge is getting low.
  4. Change the oil: While you can top off the oil when needed, an oil change and engine filter replacement is necessary once the liquid turns from honey-colored to dark brown. If you take your car in to have the battery tested, you may as well get an oil change, especially if you didn’t have one all winter.
  5. Replace the cabin filter: An oil change comes with an engine filter replacement, but the cabin filter is something different. This sifts the air that blows toward the driver and passengers, keeping the cabin air smelling fresh and clean. Spring is a good time to replace the cabin filter to prevent you from breathing in pollen, dirt, and dust every time you go for a ride.
  6. Get a car wash and wax: If your car is still holding onto road salt and grime, a good wash offers more than just cosmetic appeal—it can also help prevent corrosion. Make sure you choose a car wash that sprays down the undercarriage to remove salty buildup. Finish with wax to protect the paint and make your car shine.
  7. Touch up chipped paint: While you’re at it, check your car for any body damage. If ignored, exposed metal could rust and degrade. Keep a bottle of touch-up paint on hand to fix small chips. For larger dents or scrapes, you may need to take your car to an auto paint shop.
  8. Check the tire pressure: Tires lose 1 to 2 pounds per square inch for every 10-degree temperature drop. This means you probably topped off your tires for winter driving. Now that it’s getting warmer, keep tabs on your tire pressure to make sure it’s not any higher or lower than the recommended psi.
  9. Measure tire tread depth: While you’re scrutinizing your tires, check the wear bars on the tread surface. Roads are likely to be wet this spring, so make sure your tires aren’t going bald. If you can’t find the wear bars, conduct a penny test. That is, insert a penny into the tread so Lincoln’s head is facing down. If the tread isn’t deep enough to obstruct any of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires. It’s also time to change back to summer or all-season tires if you switched to snow tires last fall.
  10. Test the air conditioner: Don’t wait until June to find out if your air conditioner is working. If the air feels weak or lukewarm, you might need to have the AC recharged. Do so now—you’ll be glad you did when summer arrives in full force a few months from now.
  11. Declutter and clean out the car: Junk may have accumulated on the floor and backseat over the winter months. Take a break from spring cleaning the house, and give the car a little attention. Bring your winter gloves and hat inside, and throw away fast-food wrappers. Vacuum the seats and floors. Dust the dashboard. Wash the inside of the windows, and finish up with carpet shampoo and leather conditioner.
  12. Remove debris from under the hood: While you’re cleaning the car, pop the hood and trunk, checking the compartments and hinges for leaves, pine needles, and other debris. Remove these to eliminate all traces of winter from your car.
  13. Get a wheel alignment: Does the steering wheel vibrate excessively or feel like it’s pulling to one side? You might have hit one too many potholes this winter. A wheel alignment will help your car drive straight and true once more.
  14. Replace burned-out lights: The days may be getting longer, but you don’t want to get caught after dark with burned-out vehicle lights. Make sure your headlights, blinkers, and all other interior and exterior bulbs are working properly. You may need help from another person to check your brake lights.
  15. Don’t delay repairs following an accident: From scraped doors to dented bumpers to cracked windshields, cars can experience all kinds of damage in a collision. If you recently had a run-in with another vehicle or a stationary object, don’t put off the repair. Your quick response following the accident will restore the safety, performance, and aesthetics of your vehicle.

B&L Automotive Repairs provides professional automotive painting, frame straightening, dent repair, computer diagnostics, wheel alignment, tire mounting and balancing, and much more! Come in, call us at (773) 463-1622, or contact us online to schedule collision repair in Chicago.

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The Cheapest and Most Expensive Cars to Insure

Car shopping is an exciting process. As you consider your budget, you need to account for more than just your down payment and monthly loan or lease amount. Other ownership costs include gas, yearly registration fees, maintenance and repairs, and insurance.

Did you know that the type of car you buy can greatly affect your insurance premiums? Take a look at the cheapest and most expensive cars to insure and why carriers price them so differently.

Cheapest Cars to Insure

The top 20 most affordable cars cost between $1,300 and $1,375 to insure in 2019. These include:

  1. Honda Odyssey LX
  2. Jeep Wrangler Sport
  3. Subaru Outback 2.5i
  4. Mazda CX-3 Sport
  5. Honda HR-V LX
  6. Honda CR-V LX
  7. Jeep Renegade Sport
  8. Ford Escape S
  9. Subaru Forester 2.5i
  10. Jeep Compass Sport
  11. Mazda CX-5 Sport
  12. Subaru Crosstrek
  13. Buick Encore 1SV
  14. Honda Fit LX (with Honda Sensing)
  15. Nissan Frontier S
  16. Jeep Cherokee Latitude
  17. Dodge Grand Caravan SE
  18. Ford Transit Connect SL
  19. GMC Canyon SL
  20. Chevrolet Traverse L

Most Expensive Cars to Insure

On the other end of the spectrum, these five cars ranked the most expensive to insure in 2019 at about $3,700 to $4,000:

  1. Nissan GT-R
  2. Mercedes Maybach S650
  3. Porsche Panamera
  4. Mercedes AMG GT R
  5. BMW M760i xDrive

Why Carriers Price Cars So Differently

Here are the factors that insurance providers look at when pricing different makes and models of cars:

  • Odds of being stolen: If you buy a car that’s popular among thieves, your insurance rate will be higher. Some of the most commonly stolen cars include Honda Accord, Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, and Nissan Altima.
  • Vehicle size: The Honda Fit is the only sedan on the list of cheapest cars to insure—and that’s only for models with the accident-reducing Honda Sensing feature. Larger cars are more likely to keep the driver and passengers safe, so they’re cheaper to insure.
  • Durability and safety: Cars with good track records and advanced safety features are less likely to malfunction or be involved in an accident. Carriers know this, so they charge a lower rate.
  • Performance: What do the most expensive cars to insure all have in common? They’re sports and luxury vehicles. Carriers assume that people who buy high-performance cars are more likely to drive dangerously, so the rates are higher.
  • Repair costs: Exotic luxury cars tend to have specialty parts that make them more expensive to repair, yet another reason why insurance companies set high premiums.

No matter what car you drive, B&L Automotive Repairs can help you get back on your feet after an accident. We repair all makes and models and help you file a claim with your insurance company to get you the money you deserve. To learn more about our services, or to request a collision repair estimate, please contact our Chicago collision repair shop at (773) 463-1622.

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How You Can Save Money on Car Insurance

While some places in the US have seen steady or even decreasing car insurance rates in recent years, here in Chicago, premiums are on the rise. The average cost hovers around $1,100 per year or $92 per month.

High premiums are sometimes out of your control. For instance, your age, gender, zip code, and severe weather events in your area affect what you pay, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Fortunately, if your premiums are higher than you think they should be, you still have several ways to bring your costs down.

  • Choose your car wisely: In general, vehicles that cost more to purchase are also more expensive to insure. Run an insurance cost estimate before buying a new vehicle so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
  • Reduce your coverage: Illinois has minimum requirements for car insurance—$25,000 bodily injury liability per person, $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident, and $20,000 property damage liability—but you are not required to have personal liability, collision, or comprehensive. Try lowering your coverage in different areas to see how it affects your premiums.
  • Raise your deductible: If your deductible is set to $500, but you can handle a $1,000 loss following an accident, change your coverage to save on car insurance premiums.
  • Combine policies: Do you have renter’s or homeowner’s insurance with a company that also offers car insurance? See if you qualify for a rate cut by bundling your policies.
  • Claim discounts: Insurance companies offer numerous discounts to help their policyholders save. These may include being a safe driver, getting good grades, having multiple cars covered, going paperless, and more. Call your provider to find out what discounts you may qualify for because they may not apply unless you ask.
  • Pay by the mile: Illinois is one of seven states that offer pay-per-mile car insurance. If you drive less than the national average of 12,000 miles per year, you could save by making this change.
  • Pay semi-annually: You may have the option to pay premiums in monthly installments or one lump sum every six months. While paying six months’ worth of insurance is more money out of your pocket upfront, you may avoid installment fees in the process.
  • Compare rates often: Carriers entice drivers with loyalty perks, but it’s still wise to check car insurance quotes once a year. Identical policies can vary widely in price, so focus on keeping your premiums low to maximize your savings over time. With useful online tools, you can compare multiple quotes in minutes without hurting your credit score.

You may dislike paying for car insurance, but you’ll be glad you have it if you ever get in an accident. B&L Automotive Repairs can help you file a claim to get you the money you’re entitled to. To learn more, or to request a collision repair estimate, bring your car to our Chicago collision repair shop or call us at (773) 463-1622.

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How to Drive Safely with Pets in the Car

Dogs love to ride in cars, but keeping your pet safe is a big responsibility. Many dogs get excited at the sound of keys jangling, especially if you ask them if they want to go for a ride. There’s no reason not to take your dog on a ride, but following some safety tips is important to make sure you and your pet gets home safely. Your dog should be restrained while in a vehicle, so they are not injured and do not cause distractions to you while driving. Learn how to do so properly so that you can sit back and enjoy the ride with your pet.

Seating Arrangement

Dogs make great companions, but they should not sit in the passenger’s seat. Keep them in the back seat for your safety and theirs. Having them ride on your lap is even more dangerous because they’re unlikely to sit still. You don’t want to risk your dog being injured by airbags, so keeping them in the back is your best bet.

Keeping Them Contained

Letting a dog wander around increases the chances of them getting injured and you getting into an accident. Unfortunately, a seatbelt isn’t the best way to keep a dog restrained safely. A pet carrier is a good way to keep them safe while enjoying a ride. Secure the dog carrier and arrange it so they can see out the window and get some fresh air with the window down. A dog harness is another way to keep them safely contained. If your dog is too big for these options, you can opt to install a dog barrier in between the rear and front seats.

More Pet Safety Tips

This one might be unpopular, but it’s best not to let your dog stick their head out the window. Dogs love the wind, but they can get small particles in their eyes and ears. While most don’t, some dogs have been known to jump out of open windows. Never leave a pet unattended in your car, especially on a hot day. If it’s too hot and you’ll be running errands, bring them in or leave them at home. Be sure your dog is getting plenty of A/C in the back seat as well.

B&L Automotive hopes you’ll practice these tips to keep your pets safe while riding in your vehicle. We’re here for all your collision service needs, so give us a call at (773) 463-1622.

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A Step by Step Guide for What to Do If You Get Rear Ended

Many of us have experienced it. You’re on the road driving and minding your own business, and then it hits you. Getting rear ended is a sure-fire way to ruin your day. It’s often jarring and takes a few seconds to realize what has just happened to you. Many drivers are in shock when they get rear ended, and they may not know exactly what they should do. Read this step by step guide so you can be prepared if and when this unfortunate event happens to you.

Check for Injuries

The first thing to do is check yourself for injuries. Next, you should check on the passengers in your own vehicle, and then on those riding in other vehicles impacted by the accident. If anyone is severely hurt, be sure to call for medical assistance.

Report the Accident

Even if there isn’t much damage or the other driver is asking you not to, you need to call the police to report the accident. They’ll come to the scene and provide a written accident report which is especially important when it wasn’t your fault. Make sure you get a copy of the report because you might need it for your insurance or other claims.

Document the Scene

Almost everyone has a camera on their phone, so take photos or videos of the accident scene. You should also write down what you were doing when the other driver hit you and how it happened. Do this as soon as possible so you don’t forget, especially if you have whiplash.

Exchange Information

Even though you may be angry at the other driver, you need to exchange information. Don’t admit fault or make any statements that might come back to hurt you later on. Get the other driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, and license plate number.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Call your insurance company or contact them online and provide them with the information you have gathered. You’ll also want the police report, any photos or videos, and your written description of the accident.

Getting Your Vehicle Repaired

After everything else has been taken care of, it may be time to have your vehicle repaired. The experienced experts at B&L Automotive offer a lifetime guarantee and will work with your insurance company on your behalf. Give us a call today at (773) 463-1622 to schedule an appointment.

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6 Questions to Ask Before Buying Car Insurance

Car insurance is important for your peace of mind, serving to protect you financially if you get in an accident. Before you buy a policy, make sure you’re getting the coverage you need by asking these questions.

What’s covered—and what isn’t—if I get in an accident?

It’s a common misconception that car insurance automatically covers the cost to repair or replace your car, along with paying for towing, providing roadside assistance, and covering rental car fees. The reality is you only enjoy these benefits if you have the right coverage.

Car insurance policies are broken down into the following categories:

  • Bodily injury and liability insurance is required in most states, including Illinois. This covers the cost of anyone who is injured or killed, along with any property damage that occurs from an accident you caused.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage is automatically included in the minimum requirements for liability insurance under Illinois law. It protects you if you’re in an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have car insurance.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage is also important to help supplement the at-fault driver’s insurance if the damages exceed their policy limits.
  • Collision covers vehicle repair costs after an accident, regardless of who’s at fault. This coverage is most beneficial if you have a newer car with a relatively high value.
  • Comprehensive pays for non-accident damage to your vehicle, such as theft, fire, vandalism, and acts of nature. The more your car is worth, the more it makes sense to have comprehensive coverage.
  • Personal injury protection covers medical payments and lost wages to you or your passengers if you’re in a collision. This coverage also reimburses your medical expenses if you’re injured while riding in another person’s vehicle. It might only make sense to get this coverage if your health insurance plan has a high deductible.
  • Towing and roadside assistance are useful if you have an accident or mechanical breakdown. You might not need this coverage if you have a membership with AAA, OnStar, or another roadside assistance program.
  • Additional coverage may include rental car coverage, lost income reimbursement, total disability, accidental death benefits, funeral expense coverage, and more. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you have all the coverage you need.

What is the minimum car insurance required in Illinois?

Every state has minimum coverage requirements. For Illinois drivers, this includes:

  • Bodily injury and liability insurance: $25,000 per person /$50,000 all persons/$20,000 property damage per accident
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident of bodily injury coverage

If you prefer not to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you can reject it in writing. Illinois doesn’t require drivers to carry collision, comprehensive, personal injury protection, or other additional coverage. Failure to have car insurance could result in a minimum fine of $500, and your license plates could be suspended for up to four months.

What level of coverage should I get?

Having at least the minimum coverage required by state law allows you to drive legally, but it may not provide adequate protection. For instance, if you cause an accident that results in $100,000 in property damage, and you only have $20,000 of coverage, you will be held responsible for the remaining $80,000, which could be financially devastating.

Talk to your insurance agent about the level of coverage recommended for your situation. Most drivers find that a “middle of the road” policy provides the best balance between affordability and peace of mind.

What is the deductible?

Collision and comprehensive coverage usually come with deductibles, or the amount you must pay before the insurance coverage kicks in. These amounts range from $0 to $2,000 or more, depending on your policy.

When choosing your deductible, consider the amount of money you can afford to pay if you get in an accident without incurring financial hardship. The higher you set your deductible, the more you’ll save on monthly premiums.

What are the premiums?

Once you select the right amount of coverage and choose your deductibles, the insurance company will quote you a premium amount. This is the money you pay each month to keep your coverage going.

Your premiums are affected by more than just the coverage you select. For instance, newer, higher-value cars are more expensive to insure. Your age, driving history, and where you live also affect your rate.

What discounts can I qualify for?

The goal of every car insurance shopper is to keep their premiums as low as possible without sacrificing coverage. The key to saving is to ask about discounts. This is an important step in the car insurance buying process because companies may not automatically give you the discounts you qualify for.

Some common ways to save on premiums include:

  • Driving a car with advanced safety features
  • Having a clean driving record
  • Being a good student
  • Owning a home
  • Bundling multiple policies
  • Paying your premiums in six-month installments instead of month-to-month

If you’re ever in an accident, you’ll be grateful you have car insurance to help you get back on your feet. At B&L Automotive Repairs, we have experience working with insurance companies to help ensure your claim goes smoothly. Bring your car by our Chicago collision repair shop or contact us at (773) 463-1622 for more information.

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