What to Do After an Auto Accident

There’s no doubt about it—getting in an auto accident can be traumatic, whether the collision was your fault or not. You may experience a flood of emotions and face a lot of chaos and confusion immediately following the crash. Still, it’s crucial to stay calm. Here’s a step-by-step approach to help you get through the aftermath of a collision.

Check for Injuries & Assess Your Surroundings

Protecting your health and safety is of the utmost importance after a car crash. That’s why the first thing you should do is thoroughly examine yourself and your passengers for injuries. If anyone has been visibly injured or complains of neck, back, or head pain, keep the injured person still. Then, determine if you need to do anything immediately to keep yourself safe while waiting for first responders to arrive.

Move Your Car, if Possible

Can you still drive your car, at least for a few feet? If so, it’s best to move it to a safe place out of the traffic flow and turn on your hazard lights. However, if severe property damage or injuries are involved, leave your car in place to assist with the accident investigation.

Whatever you do, don’t leave the scene of the accident. You are legally obligated to pull over if you are involved in a crash, no matter how small. Even if no one was hurt and you don’t think there was any damage, you must stop your car any time you collide with something. Otherwise, you could be cited or arrested for hit-and-run.

Check on the Occupants of the Other Vehicle

Watch for traffic before exiting your vehicle. Then, approach any other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians involved in the crash. If someone is injured, call 911 to make sure the paramedics are on their way.

Remember, your goal right now is to get medical help for those who need it, not start an argument with the other driver. Avoid talking too much with other people at the scene or admitting any fault or liability. Even saying you’re sorry or offering to pay for damages can cause you legal issues later. It’s best to leave negotiations and discussions of fault to your car insurance company.

Call the Police

Even with minor accidents, it’s worthwhile to have a police report for insurance and legal purposes. Be aware that the police may not send someone for a minor fender-bender, but if someone is injured or the wrecked cars are a traffic hazard, the authorities will come.

Be prepared to show your driver’s license, car registration, and proof of insurance. When speaking with the police, only discuss the facts, not speculations about what might have happened. Ask if they have seen similar accidents in the same place before, which could prompt the transportation department to address possible safety issues.

Exchange Information

Don’t allow the stress of being in a car accident make you forget to collect information from others at the scene. Simply keeping a pen, some paper, and a flashlight in your glove compartment can help you feel more prepared and level-headed.

Here’s the information you should jot down:

  • Name, mailing address, email address, and phone number of all other drivers involved
  • Insurance company names and policy numbers of the other drivers
  • Car make, model, color, license plate number, and VIN of the other cars
  • Witnesses’ names and phone numbers
  • Police report number and the name and badge number of the responding officer

NOTE: Never share your social security number or the coverage limits on your insurance policy with others involved in the accident.

Document the Scene

Your phone’s camera is a valuable tool for documenting the crash. Take pictures of the following:

  • Vehicle damage
  • Other property damage
  • Skid marks
  • Nearby road signs
  • License plates and driver’s licenses
  • All four sides of every vehicle involved (to avoid being blamed for damage that occurs later)
  • General surroundings to show weather conditions
  • Visible injuries

Then, take notes of any relevant details that may apply, such as:

  • The date and time of the event
  • The road you were on and the nearest cross-street
  • Which direction you and the other cars involved were traveling
  • Any inclement weather, wet or icy pavement, or glare from the sun
  • Any broken streetlights in the area or burned-out headlights on the cars involved
  • Lack of turn signals from the other cars involved

File an Accident Report

Even if police responded to the scene, you might still need to file a formal accident report. In Illinois, the law states that drivers must file a report if the accident results in death or more than $1,500 in property damage. Look for the form you need online or at your local DMV or police station. Be sure to retain a copy of the report for your records.

File an Insurance Claim

Call your insurance agent or use your provider’s mobile app to initiate the claims process. If needed, check your insurance card or a recent bill for contact information. Be prepared to share your policy number and details about the accident. An insurance adjuster will contact you soon about looking at your vehicle. After assessing the damage, the adjuster will determine how much money you’ll receive to put toward the repair.

See Your Doctor

Severe injuries may require emergency medical treatment, but you should visit a doctor even if you have the slightest indication that you might be injured. Small pains often develop into larger symptoms in the days following a car crash. The sooner you visit a medical professional, the faster you’ll recover.

Plus, acting quickly is important to show your insurance company that the accident was to blame for your injuries. Depending on your policy, part or all of your medical bills should be covered. Keep the documents from your doctor visits—as well as any other records pertaining to the incident—all in one place so you can access them quickly for insurance or legal purposes.

Get Your Car Repaired

Many car insurance companies will recommend taking your car to one of their approved auto body shops. This is fine, but you also have the option to choose any shop you want. To make sure you’re getting the best deal on your auto repair, it’s wise to collect a few estimates before deciding where to have your car repaired.

B&L Automotive Repairs will do everything we can to restore your car to pre-accident condition. We utilize the latest collision repair technology for the best results, including paintless dent repair, computerized paint matching, and accurate electrical diagnostics. We offer free collision repair estimates with no appointment necessary. Simply stop by our auto body shop in Chicago, call us at (773) 463-1622, or contact us online for more information.

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B&L Automotive Repairs – http://www.bandlautomotive.com/ | http://www.bandlautomotive.com/blog/

Chicago, IL

(773) 463-1622

Nearly 30 years of experience

Target: insurance, fleet and commercial

Services: accident repairs (auto body and mechanical)…no preventative services

_________________________________

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Summer Car Care Tips

The heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic of crowded summer roads can take a toll on your vehicle. Unfortunately, this means car trouble tends to be more common in the summertime. If you hope to avoid an overheated engine, broken air conditioner, burst tires, and other problems, follow these summer car care tips as the weather heats up.

  • Examine the coolant system: Keeping cool in the summer is paramount—not just for you, but for your car as well. In addition to ensuring you have enough coolant, inspect the condition of the reservoir and hoses. Check for leaks, make sure drive belts and clamps are tight, and squeeze the hoses (when the engine is cool) to make sure they aren’t brittle or excessively soft.
  • Replace worn wipers: The weather may be more pleasant in the summer, but rain, hail, and thunderstorms are still likely. As soon as your wipers start chattering or leaving streaks across the windshield, replace them. Top off the windshield washer fluid while you’re at it.
  • Check other fluid levels: In addition to coolant and windshield washer fluid, check the oil, brake fluid, and power-steering fluid. These tend to thin or even evaporate in warm weather, so don’t be surprised if you need to top them off. Ask a mechanic for help if you’re not sure how.
  • Get an oil change: Checking the oil level isn’t enough. Your car also needs oil changes at the frequency specified in your owner’s manual. Consider oil changes as often as every 3,000 miles if you make frequent short trips, drive long distances, tow a trailer, or travel through dusty conditions.
  • Replace the serpentine belt as needed: The belt connected to the alternator can crack, loosen, and break, sometimes seemingly without reason. Keep an eye on it, and if it begins deteriorating, have it replaced as soon as possible.
  • Test the air conditioning system: As the temperature rises outside, you’ll know right away if the AC isn’t working properly. A low refrigerant charge is a likely culprit, especially in older cars. A system once-over, refrigerant recharge, and leak repair should get the cold air flowing again.
  • Clean or replace the air filters: Cars have numerous filter types, including air, fuel, PCV, cabin, and others. You need to replace these more frequently in dry, dusty conditions, or you could end up with poor driving performance.
  • Check the tire pressure: Your tires deserve attention all year round. First, check the pressure with a tire pressure gauge. Consult the inside of the fuel door or the driver’s side door jamb if you’re not sure what the pressure should be. Then, top off or remove air as needed.
  • Examine the tire tread: Pick out any stones or other debris caught in the tread and check the tires for cracks, bulges, or other signs of deterioration. Use the penny test to determine if the tread depth is adequate, and if not, have your tires replaced.
  • Check on your spare tire: Summer is a time for road trips, so make sure you aren’t caught with a flat tire and a flat spare. It’s also wise to keep a can of Fix-a-Flat on hand to help you make it to the nearest car repair shop.
  • Schedule a tire rotation and wheel alignment: By changing the position of your tires every 5,000 miles, you promote more even tread wear and prolong the life of your tires. A wheel alignment is also recommended if your car pulls to one side.
  • Invest in a dashboard sunshade: Park in the shade whenever you can. If it’s in short supply, use a sunshade. This simple measure protects the dashboard against damaging UV rays and helps the cabin stay a few degrees cooler. Consider partially transparent shades for the side windows as well to provide some sun protection for your passengers.
  • Clean the windshield: A grimy film tends to build up on the inside of windshields. Around sunset, this haze diffuses the light and makes it harder to see. Clean the windshield inside and out to ensure a sharp, clear view while driving.
  • Get a brake inspection: Preventative inspections help you avoid brake problems before they start. Also, be on the lookout for any signs of deteriorating brakes, including pulsations, squealing or grinding noises, a spongy brake pedal, or a longer-than-normal stopping distance.
  • Test the battery: Car batteries can act up any time of year, not just in cold winter weather. Routinely scraping corrosion from the posts and cable connections can help your battery last longer. Then, if the engine is slow to start or the check engine light comes on, have the battery tested and replaced if needed.
  • Stock a summer car emergency kit: It’s wise to keep a few supplies in the trunk to ensure you’re prepared for an overheated engine or flat tire on a summer road trip. Here’s what to include in your summer car emergency kit:
    • Extra engine coolant
    • Spare tire and car jack
    • Jumper cables
    • Basic toolbox
    • Flashlight
    • Duct tape
    • Car owner’s manual
    • First aid kit
    • Paper map of the area
    • Cell phone car charger
    • Bottled water and non-perishable food

For automotive painting, frame straightening, dent repair, wheel alignment, or tire mounting and balancing, visit B&L Automotive Repairs in Chicago. Our collision services will have your car looking as good as new. Stop on by, call us at (773) 463-1622, or contact us online to schedule the car repair services you need.

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5 Tips for Choosing the Right Auto Body Shop

Let’s face it—accidents happen. If your car has been damaged in a collision, you want to find an auto body shop that will perform the repairs quickly, affordably, and reliably. How do you narrow down your options in the Chicago area? Follow these expert tips to help you make your decision.

Listen to Other Customers

Any business can advertise, but the customer experience is what really matters. You have the best chance of finding a reputable auto body shop if you base your decision on word of mouth.

First, look up car repair shop testimonials online. If you see plenty of five-star reviews, this proves the business can satisfy its customers time and again. You may find that the highest-rated shops are local, family-owned businesses rather than national chains.

Next, ask around to your friends and family. Where have they had positive car repair experiences in the past? Is there anywhere they would avoid returning to because of a negative experience? Taking the time to request recommendations is a great way to find out about lesser-known auto body shops in the area.

Seek Multiple Quotes

It’s understandable—you’ve been in a car accident, and you want your car repaired as fast as possible. Still, don’t settle for the first quote you receive. Even if the price seems right, it never hurts to get multiple estimates.

As a word of caution, consider not choosing the lowest bid, especially if it’s significantly lower than the rest. While you want to avoid being overcharged, there could be hidden costs at such a low price.

For instance, an offer to repair your car dirt-cheap probably doesn’t include a warranty and is likely performed by an amateur who likes tinkering with cars but isn’t a certified mechanic. Since you count on your vehicle for transportation and trust it to protect your very life, never go with a low-ball car repair estimate.

Consider that Location Can Affect Costs

While collecting estimates, you may receive a quote for $800 from one shop and $2,000 from another. Many factors go into estimating a car repair, so check the itemized list if you can. You should see a breakdown of parts and labor for each aspect of the repair. Even if the two shops use identical products, the estimates could differ because of labor charges.

Labor often comes down to overhead costs. If you choose a shop in an expensive part of town, or you notice the lobby looks like a five-star hotel, the company’s overhead is bound to be higher. To offset these costs, the shop may charge higher labor fees. If an extravagant setting is important to you, the extra cost may be worth it. Otherwise, consider finding a shop a little more off the beaten path.

Pose the Right Questions

Never walk in the door with your pocketbook open. Instead, enter with questions in mind. After all, costs aren’t the only factor you should consider—you also want to ensure you receive a quality auto repair. Here are some key questions to ask your mechanic:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Have you worked on my make and model of car before?
  • Are you ASE-certified?
  • Do you use aftermarket or original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts? Are these parts new or used?
  • Do you provide a written warranty? If so, for how long? What does the warranty cover?
  • Are you licensed and insured?

Go with Your Gut

Chances are, if you have done your research, you have found a handful of the best auto body shops in your area. With your options narrowed down to two or three businesses, trust your instincts as the final determining factor.

When you call the shop, does the representative on the phone treat you respectfully? Is the waiting room clean and tidy? Does the shop have time in their schedule to work on your car promptly? These are all signs that you’ll be pleased with the service you receive.

Contact B&L Automotive Repairs for a Free Estimate

Family-owned and operated for over 30 years, B&L Automotive Repairs can handle any bodywork or mechanical repair. We provide our staff with ongoing training and utilize state-of-the-art equipment for high-quality results. Our team can perform major factory repairs, paint matching, frame straightening, and much more on any car make or model—all with 100% customer satisfaction in mind. Stop by, give us a call at (773) 463-1622, or contact us online to schedule collision repair in Chicago.

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Spring Car Maintenance Checklist

Spring is a time you think about cleaning your house, but what about getting your vehicle ready for warmer weather? Complete this car maintenance checklist to help you turn the corner from winter to spring.

  • Replace the windshield wiper blades: Winter probably did a number on your windshield wipers. As soon as they start to chatter, streak, or otherwise fail to clean the windshield like they used to, replace them.
  • Top off your wiper fluid: Don’t get caught in a spring storm without washer fluid to help keep your view clear! It’s wise to check the wiper fluid level every time you fill up the gas tank, especially if you’ve been using your wipers a lot lately.
  • Check other fluid levels: While you’re at it, inspect the oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. Top them off as needed, being sure to use a 50/50 ratio of water to coolant if this fluid needs a top-off.
  • Test and replace your battery, if necessary: The cold Chicago weather has been brutal on your car battery. If you notice the engine sputtering, headlights shining dimmer than usual, and windows rolling up and down slowly, these are signs that the battery is dying. Have it tested and replaced before you get stranded on the side of the road.
  • Inspect all belts and hoses: Cold weather can weaken your vehicle’s belts and make hoses turn brittle. If these snap or spring a leak while you’re driving, you could be in trouble. Adequate spring car maintenance can help prevent this scenario.
  • Get an oil change: Changing the oil regularly can extend your engine’s lifespan by thousands of miles, especially if you drive an older car. You know it’s time for an oil change when the liquid turns from honey-colored to dark brown.
  • Get a cash wash: This is about more than looking good as you cruise down the road this spring—it’s about preserving the resale value. While you’re cleaning your car, don’t forget to hose down the undercarriage to remove residual road salt. Then, finish with a wax and buff for a gleaming, just-off-the-lot look.
  • Inspect for paint damage: A thorough cleaning reveals minor dings, chips, and scratches that need attention before they rust. A touchup is all it takes to protect your car’s finish and prevent long-term damage.
  • Detail the interior: You were less inclined to make multiple trips to and from the car in frigid winter weather. As a result, the backseat may have accumulated a pile of junk over the past few months. Clean off the seat to reveal any crumbs, stains, or grime underneath. A little vacuuming, shampooing, and dusting will have your car’s interior looking as good as new.
  • Check for debris under the hood: It may be out of sight, but any unwanted objects under the hood could thwart engine performance. Remove any pine needles, leaves, and other debris you find wedged in the nooks and crannies.
  • Replace the cabin filter: Spring is allergy season, meaning a dirty cabin filter could contribute to sniffling and sneezing. A fresh filter ensures you don’t breathe in extra pollen, dust, and dirt each time you take a drive.
  • Have the air conditioner tested: Speaking of driving in comfort, make sure the AC works when you turn it on for the first time this spring. If the air doesn’t feel as cold as it should, have the AC tested and recharged if needed.
  • Check the tire pressure: Tires lose one to two pounds of air pressure for every degree drop in temperature. Spring weather tends to fluctuate, so check the tire pressure frequently and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Measure tire tread depth: While you’re examining your tires, check the tread surface as well. Balding tires are dangerous in the spring when roads tend to be wet as often as they’re dry. A tread depth test is easy to perform. Simply insert a penny into the tread, so Lincoln’s head is facing down. If you can still see all of Lincoln’s head, this means the tire has worn down far enough to warrant a replacement.
  • Check your shocks and struts: Did you drive through any potholes this winter? Your shocks and struts may have been damaged as a result. Keep an eye out for warning signs that you need a replacement, including vehicle swaying while turning, front-end dives while braking, rear-end squats while accelerating, or bouncing and sliding on rough, winding roads.
  • Get a wheel alignment: Potholes can also throw off your car’s alignment. If the steering wheel vibrates excessively or feels like it’s pulling to one side, professional wheel alignment can help your car drive straight and true once more.
  • Test and replace light bulbs, if necessary: Headlights are important, but your car has many other bulbs that require an inspection as well. Work with another person to test the turn signals, brake lights, reverse lights, parking lights, and interior lights.
  • Address vehicle damage immediately after an accident: If you have a run-in with another vehicle this spring, don’t delay the repair. Cracked windshields, dented bumpers, and scraped doors are just a few things a car can experience in a collision. Responding quickly to damage after an accident will restore vehicle safety, performance, and aesthetics.

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

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Tips to Drive Safely in Chicago

Driving in Chicago can be a harrowing experience. The streets are full of cars, bikes, and people, and not everyone is interested in keeping a cool head or protecting others’ safety. Auto accidents are common in Chicago, and in fact, nearly half of all car accidents in Illinois occur in Cook County. When you’re driving in Chicago, how can you stay safe and keep others safe as well? Follow some commonsense guidelines.

  • Stay calm. It’s easy to get flustered or angry when driving in heavy traffic, but road rage increases your risk of an accident. If you see someone else making unsafe choices, let it go and drive as safely as you usually would, rather than engaging with them or becoming angry. Remember, some people do things they wouldn’t normally do when in the heat of road rage. The best way to stay safe is to avoid engaging.
  • Don’t be a lemming. Sometimes, you’ll notice people on the road doing things you thought were illegal. The fact is, those things probably actually are illegal! Keep a safe distance, and if you see someone driving somewhere that seems wrong, don’t follow. The bike lane, for instance, is off-limits to cars. Don’t risk your safety just to follow someone else.
  • Use your turn signals. This may seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked in Chicago. Using your blinkers is a common courtesy: it informs other drivers of what you plan to do next. When you’re driving in traffic, always turn on your blinker in plenty of time for other cars around you to notice your intent to turn.
  • Don’t turn right on red. In many places, it’s perfectly legal to turn right on red once you’ve stopped to make sure there’s no traffic coming. This is true in much of Illinois, but in Chicago, it’s not allowed. Pay close attention to this rule, especially if you’re from out of town and not accustomed to stopping and staying at a red light. Chicago stoplights typically have cameras, and if you run the light, it will snap your car’s photo, and you’ll receive a bill for your illegal action. The best rule of thumb when driving in Chicago, or anywhere else for that matter, is to pay attention to all signage and obey the rules of the road.

No matter how carefully you drive in Chicago, you might still wind up in an auto accident. If this happens, bring your car to 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 ensure your needs are met. Call us today at (773) 463-1622, or contact us through our website for more information.

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Get Your Car Repaired After a Storm

Temperatures are beginning to warm up, which is excellent news, but it also means more storms are likely to be on the way. Unfortunately, cars often suffer damage in spring and summer storms. It doesn’t have to be a whole season of storms- just one major storm can lead to extensive damage to an automobile. What kind of damage does a storm do to a car, and what should you do if it happens to you?

  • The storm damage depends on the type of storm. Of course, a hailstorm can cause extensive damage, denting the body or even breaking the glass. However, a thunderstorm can do similar damage if the winds get high enough. When trees and limbs are blown down and hit your car, they can also damage the body and break the glass. Water from storms can also do serious damage, though, causing your car to rust prematurely or ruining engine components like the cylinders and electrical system. Water is hard on the interior of a car, too.
  • If your car is damaged, be careful. Don’t start it if it has flood damage; this might damage your engine. If you can, secure your car in a garage. If that’s not possible, though, be sure to cover it with a tarp if there’s any glass damage. You don’t want to allow water to get into your car and cause further damage.
  • Get in touch with your insurance company. After carefully documenting the damage by taking photos of the car and surrounding area, contact your insurance company. Your agent will be able to tell you the specifics of your policy, including the amount of your deductible and how to file a claim for the repairs. If you have items in your vehicle that were also damaged, call your homeowner’s insurance company as well.
  • Be aware of what insurance will cover. If you have comprehensive insurance, you’re probably covered for storm-related damage. Comprehensive coverage applies to damage not sustained in a collision, like flooding, hail, and damage from falling objects. Once you’ve paid your deductible, the rest of the cost to repair the car will probably be covered by your insurance, unless the car is not worth as much as it will cost to repair it. In that case, the insurance company will declare your car a total loss and pay you the cash value instead. Don’t expect your homeowner’s policy to protect the car, though, even if it was parked in the driveway.
  • Get your car repaired in a timely manner. This will not just keep your car looking and operating at its best but will also help it maintain its value. Often, minor dents and dings can be fixed using paintless dent repair, which is faster and less expensive than other types of dent repair. It’s important to get the glass repaired or replaced as quickly as possible because even small chips and cracks can grow and spread. When the glass is compromised, it has a major impact on your car’s safety and functionality. Of course, it goes without saying that major repairs like engine or electrical repairs should be done immediately.

Any time your vehicle is in an accident, no matter how major or minor the damage may be, contact B&L Automotive Repairs. We’ll make sure that the car is repaired completely, leaving no hidden damage that could potentially make it unsafe. 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 ensure your needs are met. Call us today at (773) 463-1622, or contact us through our website for more information.

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Learn About The Importance of Immediate Collision Repair

Is it essential to take your car to the shop after a fender bender? If you’re in an automobile accident, and the damage to your vehicle is minor, it can be tempting to ignore it. If the car still runs and you’re not bothered by the way it looks, why not just keep driving? Isn’t it better to just soldier on rather than taking on what seems like an unnecessary expense during an already stressful time? As it happens, there are some excellent reasons to take your vehicle in, so a qualified mechanic can look it over and take care of any necessary repairs.

  • Getting your vehicle repaired quickly after an accident keeps you in good standing with your insurance company. If you’ve got collision insurance, you should use it. If you don’t keep your vehicle in the best condition, your insurance provider is unlikely to continue to offer you that coverage. Your insurance company will compensate you for the damages, so why not go ahead and get your car repaired? If you don’t get it fixed after a small wreck, you’re likely to find yourself without coverage if you should have a more severe accident. If you’re leasing your car or making car payments, it’s imperative to keep your vehicle in good shape and maintain that collision insurance. Lenders require that insurance be maintained by those leasing or making payments.
  • Repairing a vehicle keeps the damage from getting worse. A small dent might not seem like a big deal, but it can cause further problems, like rust damage. What’s more, the collision may have caused damage that you can’t see, and the fact that you’re unaware of them doesn’t make them any less serious. Steering wheel issues, engine trouble, brake problems, and other damages you may be unaware of can worsen when you drive the car, leading to further damage and more expensive repairs.
  • Driving a car that needs to be repaired may not be safe. After any collision, even when the damage seems small, the safety of your vehicle may be compromised. Without taking the car to be inspected, you have no way of knowing whether the accident has degraded the vehicle’s ability to protect you in a severe crash. Internal damage that can lead to significant malfunctions can mean that you and your passengers are not safe when you’re driving that car, and others on the road around you aren’t secure, either.
  • When you neglect to repair your vehicle after an accident, you could be risking trouble with the law. Did you know that in many states, a car that’s been in an accident is not deemed worthy of being driven on public roads? To legally drive your car, you will likely need to get your car repaired as soon after the accident as possible. Taking your car in for inspection and repair promptly will keep you on the right side of law enforcement.
  • Having your car in good working order makes your life easier. For most people, a car is an invaluable tool as well as an investment. When your car is out of commission, it makes it much harder to do what you need to do and go the places you need to go. This might make you reluctant to take your car in if the damage doesn’t render it undrivable, but risking further damage means more time in the shop later. Worse, neglecting prompt repairs could lead to irreparable damage, and you’ll have to get a new car.
  • When the time comes for you to sell your vehicle, you’ll be glad you kept it in good repair. You’ve heard it time and time again: cars depreciate as soon as you drive them out of the dealership’s parking lot. While that is true, and vehicles depreciate over time, the ones that hold their value the most effectively are without damage. A car with dents and dings will be worth much less to a potential buyer, and every potential buyer will look at the outside of the car. Damage to the car gives a buyer wiggle room to talk you down on the price, but if you’ve taken care of your car and repaired it so that the body is clean and undamaged, you’ll be able to stick to your asking price. If you’ve left problems to turn into bigger problems under the hood, your vehicle will be worth even less.

If your vehicle is in an accident, whether or not the damage seems noteworthy to you, contact B&L Automotive Repairs. We’ll make sure that there’s no hidden damage that could potentially make your car unsafe. 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 ensure your needs are met. Call us today at (773) 463-1622, or contact us through our website for more information.

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How to Choose the Right Snow Tires

Winter weather in Chicago can be snowy, icy, and cold, leading to hazardous driving conditions. If you’re traveling for the holidays, having the right tires can make all the difference. Ready to swap out your all-season tires for snow tires? This guide can help you make the best selection based on your winter driving habits.

What’s the Difference Between All-Season Tires and Snow Tires?

All-season tires are designed for a smooth, quiet ride in most weather conditions. They provide a “best of both worlds” solution, performing admirably well in wet and dry conditions alike. Some all-season tires claim to work equally well in winter and summer, but this is really only true in climates with mild winter weather. They are not meant for deep snow, ice, or prolonged cold spells of 45 degrees F or colder.

The only way to maximize traction, braking, and control on slick, snow-packed roads is to install winter tires. The tread compounds in these tires stay softer and more flexible in freezing weather, improving performance when the temperature drops. Plus, the tread is deeper, wider, and more jagged to enhance tire grip in the harshest conditions.

Do I Need Snow Tires?

Installing snow tires from November through March could be worthwhile if any of the following applies to you:

  • You live in a climate where snow, ice, sleet, and/or freezing rain are normal each winter.
  • It often stays below 45 degrees F for weeks at a time where you live.
  • You routinely make trips to the mountains or through snow zones during the winter.

What About Tire Chains?

Chains are important for improving traction on mountain roads. In fact, they are required in many places during the colder months. However, it would be best if you didn’t think of chains as a substitute for winter tires. After all, they’re not appropriate on bare pavement or for driving at highway speeds. Instead, consider tire chains an option to have available when you’re driving in the snow.

Is the M+S Rating the Same as the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake?

You may see an M+S symbol on the sidewall of your all-season tires. This “mud and snow” rating indicates that the tread has a more aggressive design than other all-season tires, delivering a longer lifespan and improved traction in less-than-ideal road conditions.

However, M+S is not the same rating as the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake. This designation signifies true snow tires that have been tested and certified to perform well in the worst winter driving conditions.

Do I Need Studded Snow Tires?

Some snow tires include small metal spikes staggered across the tread to maximize traction on ice or packed snow. Be aware that extra tread depth is needed to accommodate studs, so tire sizes are limited.

Also, because they damage pavement more quickly than studless tires, states regulate when they are allowed on the road. In Illinois, studded snow tires are not permitted any time of the year.

Is Safety Siping Necessary?

Siping adds small patterned slits on the tread to create more traction edges that help “bite” the road without damaging the tire’s important structural components. Most snow tires are already siped, but you can have additional safety siping added when you purchase your tires if you choose. This might be a good idea if you want added traction on slick roads where studded snow tires are not permitted.

Can I Buy Used Winter Tires?

You may be eager to save money by purchasing “lightly used” snow tires, but before you do, make three quick checks:

  • Verify the size. Any snow tires you buy should be the same size as your existing all-season ones. Follow this guide to help you read the letters and numbers on the sidewall. If you’re unsure whether the used tires you’re considering are the right size, call a tire dealer for assistance.
  • Measure the tread depth. This reveals whether the snow tires really are lightly used. New tire tread is typically 11/32” deep. Once the tread reaches a depth of 6/32”, it’s almost time to replace the tires. Keep this in mind when considering the asking price for used tires.
  • Make sure there isn’t uneven wear. Measure the tread of every tire in multiple places to check how evenly they’re wearing out. If you notice a disparity of more than 3/32”, look elsewhere for used tires. Better yet, opt for new snow tires instead.

Should I Buy Rims to Go with My Winter Tires?

The answer comes down to time and money. Here’s how to decide whether it’s best to buy separate rims for your winter tires or share rims with your all-season tires:

  • First, assume your snow tires will last five winters.
  • Add up the cost to swap your tires twice a year for five years (a total of 10 times) if they’re not on rims.
  • Compare this cost to the price of buying four rims. See if they are any savings.
  • Also, consider that the wait time is a bit longer if you don’t have separate rims since the mechanic must unmount and remount the tires from a single set of rims.

If you decide to purchase separate rims, consider opting for a physical vapor deposition (PVD) finish. Available in numerous color tones, this option helps seal out deicing salts to reduce corrosion and pitting that can occur when driving in wintery conditions.

At B&L Automotive Repairs, we advocate safe driving techniques to prevent accidents whenever possible. Of course, collisions still happen sometimes, especially on icy roads. If you have been in a car accident in the Chicago area, we can quickly and reliably fix up your vehicle! Let us eliminate some of your stress with 24-hour towing, car rental services, pickup and delivery options, free repair estimates, and a lifetime guarantee. Call us at (773) 463-1622 or contact us online for expert collision repair service.

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Holiday Road Safety

Traveling for the holidays often means driving on icy, snow-packed roads. Vehicle accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in the United States, but most crashes are avoidable with the proper precautions. Learn how to prepare for a holiday road trip and stay safe while navigating wintery conditions.

Before You Leave on a Holiday Road Trip

The risk of mechanical failure and other car problems increases in harsh, cold conditions. Make sure your vehicle is ready with these tips:

  • Check your tire pressure every time you fill-up the gas tank. Pressure can decrease as much as one to two psi for every 10-degree temperature drop, so you may need to top off the air for the best performance during your holiday travels.
  • Consider installing snow tires, which make a huge difference in snowy conditions. You’ll especially notice a performance enhancement if your old tires are wearing out and going bald.
  • Test your battery. Car batteries have a harder time starting in freezing conditions. A quick test tells you if the battery is weak so you can replace it before you get stranded on the side of the road.
  • Check your brakes to reveal any developing problems. If a repair is necessary, you can have the work done before a disaster occurs on your holiday road trip.
  • Replace the windshield wipers to ensure good visibility, no matter how hard the snow is falling. Then, top off the windshield washer reservoir with cold-weather fluid that has a lower freezing point.
  • Check your other fluids. Washer fluid isn’t the only thing that should be topped off. Ensure your car has sufficient engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and transmission fluid.
  • Stock a winter survival kit with booster cables and an ice scraper, a flashlight and extra batteries, heavy coats for everyone, car cell phone chargers, a basic first aid kit and medicines, and non-perishable food. You never know if you might get stranded this winter, so be prepared.
  • Fill the gas tank often. It’s inconvenient to stop any more than necessary, but by never allowing the gauge to fall below a quarter of a tank, you reduce the chance of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Follow this habit all winter long to prevent condensation from forming and freezing in the gas line.

While on the Road

With the car loaded and ready to go, you can be on your way! Help make sure you arrive at your destination safely with these holiday driving tips:

  • Time your departure, so you don’t get stuck in rush hour traffic.
  • Make sure everyone is wearing their seatbelt, no matter their age or position in the car. Remember that puffy coats should not be worn beneath car seat harnesses for safety reasons. Instead, buckle your child in, and then place a coat or blanket over them.
  • Avoid driving at night, if possible, to decrease the chance of becoming fatigued. If you feel drowsy, don’t hesitate to swap drivers or pull over and rest for a while.
  • Keep your lights on, even when driving during the day. This increases your visibility, making it easier to see and be seen, especially if rain or snow starts falling.
  • Increase your following distance on wet or icy roads, so you have time to stop if the driver in front of you slams on the brakes.
  • Slow down if the weather deteriorates. You have less control over your vehicle on wintery roads, so travel at least 5 to 10 miles per hour slower than the posted speed limit.
  • Do away with distractions. This means putting away your cell phone, not eating behind the wheel, and letting a passenger control the radio.
  • Take alternate routes if necessary. Stay up-to-date with weather forecasts and road closures so you can take the least affected routes to your destination. Use a GPS, so you don’t get lost on unfamiliar roads.
  • Delay your trip if the weather is bad. It may be disappointing to arrive a day late, but attempting to navigate a blizzard is never a good idea. In the end, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Hopefully, these precautions keep you safe on the road this holiday season. However, if you get in an accident in the Chicago area, B&L Automotive Repairs can get your car fixed up fast. We’ll help you make the most of a bad situation with 24-hour towing, car rental services, pickup and delivery options, free repair estimates, and a lifetime guarantee. Your satisfaction is our top priority, so give us a call at (773) 463-1622 or contact us online to find out how we can help.

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Do You Know Why Cars Develop Rust?

It’s a heart-stopping moment for a car owner. Routinely looking over your vehicle, you see a spot of rust. If you’ve ever dealt with rust before, you know this is trouble, because rust is not only unsightly but also dangerous. Left to its own devices, it can damage your car’s structural integrity and decimate its resale value. How do you get rid of rust? Better yet, how do you prevent it from happening in the first place?

If you’ve already got a rusty spot, get to an auto body repair shop as quickly as possible. Rust doesn’t just damage the paint job, it can affect the brake and exhaust system, as well as damaging the subframe. It’s best to let a professional handle rust removal, to make sure the job is done correctly and thoroughly.

But what causes a vehicle to rust? Rust is technically called iron oxide, and it forms when an iron-containing metal oxidizes because of extended exposure to oxygen and moisture.  Steel, from which auto bodies are made, contains iron. So, even though steel is durable and strong, it’s also susceptible to iron oxide, or rust. What increases the likelihood that a vehicle will rust?

  • Older vehicles are more susceptible to rust than newer vehicles. That’s because newer vehicles have paint that’s more protective, and they’re made of galvanized steel. In the right circumstances, galvanized steel can last up to 70 years without sustaining any corrosion. During the manufacturing process, however, the steel must be cut, drilled, and heated, and this compromises its integrity somewhat. Areas of your car like the panels and doors, though made of galvanized steel, are still vulnerable to rust.
  • Paint affords a level of rust protection. Automotive manufacturers use primer and paint designed to protect vehicles from rust. If this protective coating is damaged in any way, though, the bare metal under the paint is exposed to moisture. Even the smallest dents and scratches can provide a breach in protection that allows moisture to penetrate and start the oxidation process. That’s why it’s important to get any scratches or dents in your car repaired as quickly as possible.
  • Certain locations make cars more vulnerable to rust. To begin forming, rust requires an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte. The metal in the car provides the anode and cathode, and water provides the electrolyte. Saltwater is better at carrying electrons than water with a low salt content, which is why rust is more likely to form in areas near the ocean. The humid air means moisture is constantly in contact with your car’s surface, and because of its proximity to the ocean, that moist air has a high salt content. If you live in a cold climate, where salt is used to clear snow from the roads, the saltwater that splashes onto your car from the melted snow is also likely to cause rust spots.
  • Where you park matters. If you can possibly park on a paved surface, do it. Parking on dirt, grass, or snow exposes your vehicle to moisture that can cause rust. If you park on asphalt, apply a sealant to any cracks that form in the asphalt. Otherwise, those cracks will expose your car to unnecessary moisture.
  • A clean vehicle is less vulnerable to rust. Taking care of your car’s paint job is a good way to maintain rust prevention, so wash your car at least every week or two. Take care to wash the underbody, to remove any road salt or grime that’s collected beneath your vehicle. Once a month, apply a protective wax coating.
  • Rustproofing is the best defense against rust. For some car owners, it’s not worth the investment, and this is a subjective decision that you’ll have to make on your own. If you live in the desert, rustproofing may not be necessary. If you live near the ocean or in a northern climate, though, rustproofing is a good move if you intend to keep your car for a long time. Your auto body shop can make recommendations about the best rustproofing method for you. It’s wise to ask for expert advice, because there are many different rustproofing methods available, including:
    • Electronic Module: One of the newer rust protection methods, it’s also the most controversial. To protect your car against rust, a small device is installed in your vehicle. This device emits a weak current throughout the vehicle’s body, and this prevents it from reacting with oxygen. The technology was initially used on the bottom of boats and has been proven effective in that situation. On cars, though, many experts are skeptical as to its efficacy. Because it’s a costly rust protection method and the reviews are mixed, car owners are often reluctant to install it.
    • Tarbased Spray: This method of rust protection, also known as undercoating, is an affordable, non-invasive, and time-tested option. Tar-based rustproofing has been in use since the 1950s when it was introduced to provide quieter car rides.
    • Dripless Oil Spray: Designed to protect your car’s underbody, this spray forms a moisture seal. Compared to the tar-based sprays, dripless oil sprays cover more surface area.
    • Drip Oil Spray: This method is similar to a dripless spray but is generally more effective. That’s because it reaches more parts of your car than a dripless spray can. Because it has more leftover residue, however, it leads to dripping oil.

Whether you’ve noticed a spot of rust on your vehicle, you’ve let it go and have a larger rust area, or you simply have a dent or scratch that needs repair, don’t hesitate to 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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