Restoring an older car can be an exciting adventure, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard work. It’s likely that it’ll require special tools and at some point, it’s more of a project than it is fun.

When you’re looking for the right auto shop for your restoration project, keep these tips in mind.

Look for a Clean, Organized Shop

A clean and organized shop is a well cared for shop. An organized shop is likely run by organized technicians and allows a shop to work better on a schedule. A clean shop is necessary for a quality paint job and accurate parts installation.

Take a look in the restoration area. Does every car have it’s own workspace? Are the parts being kept on separate shelves so they’re not mixed up?

Your restoration project is one-of-a-kind and you’ll want to entrust it to a shop that shows it cares.

Ask about their Experience

Before you leave your car with an expert, make sure they’re an expert in cars like yours. Ask about their experience with restorations, with your make and model, and with other cars made around the same time.

If you can, look into the work area. Do the employees look like they’re enjoying themselves and like they have confidence in the work they’re doing?

Don’t be afraid to get specific with questions – your restoration project is unique and it should be just what you want it to be.

Ask for an Estimate, Expect it to Change

Unless you allow the repair shop to disassemble your restoration project, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to give you a 100 percent accurate estimate. (It is called an estimate for a reason.)

Even if you’re only requesting part of the project be done in a repair shop, the technicians may uncover additional work that stands in their way during the process. Make sure you leave your contact number!

Look at Reviews

Even if you’ve been to a shop in person, asked questions, and observed the workspace, it’s always a good idea to look at reviews. If you know someone who has worked with a specific shop before, ask their opinion. Otherwise, look on Google or Yelp for reviews from past customers.

Driving a beautiful classic car is a dream for so many classic car enthusiasts! But, the classics are classic for a reason – they just don’t make cars like that anymore! It’s easier to find one that needs a bit of work.

Restoring a classic car doesn’t have to be a challenge, you just have to know where to start. The condition of a classic car is rated on a 100-point system, where 100 is absolutely perfect restoration and 20 or below is un-restorable.

There are four basic conditions to which you can restore your car, each suited to different purposes and budgets.

Restored to Driving Condition

If your classic car’s main function is to get you from point A to point B, it needs to run! If it doesn’t, that’s where you’ll start. Don’t forget to have a professional check it out for safety.

To restore a classic car to driving condition, it might require some cosmetic adjustments and replacement parts but you’re the only one you need to impress.

Restored to Street Show Condition

At this level, your car should look good, drive well, and be ready to impress a professional. You’ll want higher quality parts, professional repairs, and attention to details – at least on the outside.

The 100-point system used to rate classic car condition, a street show condition classic car should fall between 80-89.

Restored to Show Car Condition

At a car show, you’re going to have to impress professionals beyond looks and performance – you need to have professional work and attention to detail over every aspect of the car.

On the point system, a show car condition vehicle would fall between 90-95 when ranked by a professional.

Restored to Concours Condition

As the highest level of restoration for a classic car, concours condition is usually only for auto shows, private collectors, and cars that are never driven. You’ll need a professional with professional tools to get to this level.

Professionally, they’d be rated over 95.

Do select a restoration level that fits your needs.

There are four main levels to which you can restore your classic car, each fitting a different budget and purpose. Will your car be for show only, or will you drive it?

Don’t assume you can use old tools and technology.

If you plan to drive your classic car, it needs to meet today’s legal standards, which may require you to use modified parts, modern technology, and pay a visit to a professional if only to have your car examined for safety.

Do use existing parts when you can.

You shouldn’t have to replace every part of your classic car! Some damaged parts can be cleaned and repaired. Authentic reproduction parts may be costly or unavailable, so consider refurbishments and repairs to save money and time.

Don’t overlook the details

Details can make all the difference! Whether you want to upgrade technology but keep the old look or you’re going for 100% old-school, don’t ignore the small things.

Do consider OEM vs aftermarket replacement parts.

Just like with today’s vehicles, classic cars can be repaired and restored with parts from the original manufacturer or those made by other manufacturers. There are pros and cons to both, from the pricetag to the technology they include and their safety features and customization options.

Don’t go at it alone.

Whether your car is a family project or you’re looking to get it done ASAP so you can go for a ride, don’t think you have to restore your classic car all on your own. Tools, time, and learning to perform safe repairs are all an investment so don’t be afraid to get help from a professional.

Do stay on top of maintenance.

Every car, new or old, needs proper maintenance to stay in tip-top condition. Look online or ask your local repair shop how often you need to do things like change the oil, rotate the tires, and check for major repairs on your classic car after it has been restored.

When you’re looking for a repair shop to put your car back in shape, it’s important to understand the charges you’re facing. Different shops have different fees and different ways of charging for labor and parts. These helpful tips can boost your understanding of what you’re paying for when you have your car repaired.

Understanding your Auto Repair Estimate

When you get an estimate, there are a few key things to remember.

1. You are not obligated to repair your car at the repair shop that your insurance company recommends.
2. An estimate may require the repair shop to take your car apart to an extent (better estimates often do).
3. You can get more than one estimate and compare prices.
4. Your insurance company may also perform their own estimate.
5. Always get a written estimate! Keep a signed copy for yourself.
6. An estimate is just that: an estimate. It is not a guarantee of costs.
7. Some shops charge for diagnostic time, including estimates. Others don’t; make sure you know before you agree to an estimate.

What should your auto repair estimate include?

Your estimate should tell you what parts need to be repaired, what replacement parts are needed, which parts can be repaired, and the estimated labor charges.

For your protection, make sure your estimate includes a statement that the shop will contact you for approval before performing any work that is not listed on the estimate. It’s not unusual for additional repairs to arise once the repair starts.

Labor Fees

Your estimate should include charges for labor. Some shops charge a flat rate for labor, others charge an hourly rate. The estimate should specify which is used and if it’s an hourly rate, it should include an estimate for the number of hours the repair will take.

Replacement Auto Parts

Some parts may need to be replaced if they cannot be repaired. There are several different kinds of replacement parts and depending on your vehicle, your budget, and your preference, each one has benefits and drawbacks. Don’t be afraid to discuss the kind of replacement part to be used on your vehicle with your repair shop.

OEM Parts

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts are those made by the factory that produced the original parts for your vehicle when it was new. They will be exactly the same as the parts your car originally had. If you’ve chosen an OEM Certified Shop, these will be the parts your shop will recommend to insure a safe repair.

Non-OEM parts

Non OEM parts are made by other manufacturers and may not be exactly the same as the original parts.

Recycled, Salvaged, or Used Parts

Parts from other vehicles, whether the same make and model as yours or not.

The Truth About These 5 Automotive Repair Myths

We truly hope that you never have to deal with a collision repair; accidents can be scary, expensive, and stressful. But, if you are in an accident, we’re here to simplify the process so you’re prepared and you can get your car back to normal as quickly and stress-free as possible.

Let’s uncover some common collision repair myths so you understand the truth behind them.

1. You have to take your car to the repair shop your insurance company chooses.

Actually, your insurance company has no right whatsoever to demand that you use a specific repair shop. You have the right to choose and if your insurance company tells you otherwise, it’s called steering and it’s illegal.

They may make suggestions (you can always ask) but you are under no obligation to listen to your insurance company.

2. Only the dealership can fix your car like new again.

Auto repair and collision repair shops can access repair guides from the automotive manufacturer who made your car and often repair your vehicle just as well in less time or for less money.

Some dealerships may have great repair programs, but they can also be really pricey or focus on other aspects of business more than repairs.
3. Your insurance company always covers the cost of every repair.

Depending on your insurance policy, your insurance company may cover all of your repairs, they may cover some, or they may not cover them at all. If you have coverage called “collision coverage” as part of your policy, that’s usually where the details regarding repair of your vehicle are listed. Always ask your insurance company if you’re not sure.

4. You need three estimates before your insurance company will pay.

This is not true at all, one estimate is plenty. However, if you’re shopping around for the right collision repair shop, it might be in your best interest to get multiple estimates. Your insurance company will usually perform their own estimate once you choose a shop.

5. The insurance company’s estimate is always right and they won’t pay a penny more.

Your insurance company might negotiate with the repair shop if they think the estimate is too high; the end goal is to get a safe and affordable repair. However, the insurance company is required to pay according to your policy.

There are certain topics that every car owner should know when having their vehicle repaired. Taking your car to the repair shop isn’t generally something people are familiar with (because hopefully it doesn’t happen all that often!) But, if you are in an accident, it’s important that you know your rights as a consumer.

These consumer rights can help you ensure that your car is repaired correctly, safely, quickly, and within your budget.
You have the right to choose your own repair shop.

In most cases, when your car is in an accident, you can choose the shop you want to repair it. Ask your friends, have a quick Google, and look for local shops!

You can ask your insurance company for suggestions but if they’re telling you that you only have a few options, don’t believe them. This is called steering and in most states, it’s illegal.

You have the right to choose your repair parts.

If parts of your car need to be replaced, you can have a say in which parts are used!

Usually, you can choose from three kinds of parts: OEM, non-OEM, or recycled parts. However, depending on your insurance policy, only certain kinds of parts may be covered. (This doesn’t mean that’s your only option!) Each kind of part has unique benefits and costs so if you’re not sure, ask your repair tech or do a little research.

In many states, if a shop is going to use anything other than OEM parts, they’ll need to notify you. To be proactive, ask your repair shop before the repair.

You have the right to a safely and correctly repaired car.

When you take your vehicle to be repaired, you are paying for a service and you can rightfully expect that your vehicle will be repaired correctly and when repairs are completed, it will be returned to you in a safe condition for driving.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you understand how your car is repaired, what is being repaired, what is being replaced, and what to expect. You can ask about your technicians and their qualifications or experience, what they’re doing and why, and what your options are.

Get involved!

The first step in successful collision repair is knowing your rights. The next step is to get involved! When you’re choosing your repair shop, don’t be afraid to ask questions. A great repair shop will answer them and help you understand.

Car accidents are never fun, but they can be especially difficult on a road trip, especially if your summer getaway is in another state. Crossing borders may not seem like a big deal when you’re heading out, but if you are in a crash far from home, we’re here to help.

Prepare for your Road Trip

In addition to the usual auto maintenance like oil changes and checking your fluids, wipers, and tires, you can prepare for the possibility of an accident so it’s not so overwhelming if it happens.

Review your Auto Insurance Policy

Double check that your policy covers you in the places you’re traveling. Usually, the 48 contiguous states are included, but if not, your insurance company can tell you what you need to do to maintain coverage on your road trip.

Review Traffic Laws

If you’re crossing borders, you may be subject to new traffic laws. Before you leave, do a quick search on Google for traffic laws where you’ll be driving so you know what might be different.

If you are in an Accident in Another State…

Don’t panic (too much). Accidents happen, and you’re at least a little prepared for this.

Is everyone OK?

As in any state, first, make sure nobody is hurt. If you think you or another person may be, call 9-1-1 (in the United States).

Record the Accident

As the out-of-towner, it won’t be as easy for you to get records and information about your accident later, so do it thoroughly now.

● As always, take pictures of what happened.
● Write down your version of events.
● Get the contact information of everyone involved in the accident, especially the other driver.
○ Don’t forget their license plate number and vehicle make and model.
● If there are witnesses, get their information too!

Is your Vehicle Safe to Drive?

When you’re driving long distances, especially with passengers and lots of weight in your vehicle, it’s important to make sure it’s in good driving condition. You definitely don’t want a second crash or a road trip breakdown.

Even if you can’t see any damage, it’s best to take your car to a local collision repair shop. Tell them what happened and ask for a professional opinion regarding the safety of driving your vehicle.

If you prefer to use your repair shop at home, ask the local technician if it’s safe for you to drive back.

After you’ve been in an accident, you have a lot going on. The last thing you need when you’re worried about getting your car repaired quickly, safely, and affordably is a bunch of confusing car insurance terms to work through! Check out our guide to auto insurance words you might hear in a collision repair shop.

Act of God

When something out of human control or influence happens (that damages a vehicle) it’s called an Act of God. Things like forest fires, tornadoes and other storms, earthquakes, floods, or a volcanic eruption fall into this category. Acts of God are generally covered under comprehensive coverage, not collision or liability.

Additional Insured or Additional Interest

A person other than the main insured person who is also covered on an insurance policy is an additional insured. For example, if your car is leased, your leasing company is likely an additional insured on your policy.

Carrier

The insurance company, or insurance carrier, is the entity that issues an insurance policy. It’s called a carrier because it carries certain risks in lieu of the main insured person.

Claim

Any request or demand for the carrier to pay according to the insurance policy is called a claim. The person who makes the claim is the claimant.

Coverage

The benefits and protections that are named in an insurance policy constitute the coverage. Each portion of the policy is subject to the terms and conditions of that specific policy, so your coverage may not be the same as your neighbor’s even if you use the same carrier.

No Fault Insurance

Some states require insurance companies to pay losses of their policyholders that are covered in the claims without regard to fault in an accident. This doesn’t mean they have to pay for everything, it just means that the policy kicks in when a covered accident happens and not when fault is determined.

Comparative Negligence

This legal principle is applicable in certain states and means that even when a driver is partly at fault for an accident, they’re still able to make a partial claim. The negligence of each party is compared to that of the other party and the claim depends on the percentage of responsibility.

Contributory Negligence

This legal principle is applicable in certain states and means that a driver who is at fault, even a little bit, is not able to make a claim on their insurance policy.

Deductible

Insurance policies include a deductible, or a set fee that the covered party is responsible to pay toward damages before the insurance can be paid out.

Exclusions

An exclusion is something that is not covered under an insurance policy. It may be a certain event, person, property, situation, or something else. For example, it’s unlikely that damage caused by drag racing is covered under an auto insurance policy, even if an accident occurs.

Loss

This is the amount the insurance company pays out on any given claim.

Steering

If an insurer tries to get a vehicle owner to use a certain repair shop, it’s called steering. Steering is illegal in most states and vehicle owners have the right to choose their own repair shop.

Following a car accident, the idea of finding the right collision repair shop can seem intimidating and overwhelming. Hopefully it’s a process that you don’t have much experience with (unless you work in the collision repair industry).

Remember that you have the right to select your collision repair shop and nobody, even your insurance company, can force you to use a specific shop. It can help to get a few estimates from different repair shops so you can find the right one for you. The following steps can help you with collision repair estimates.

Research and Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re speaking with representatives at the repair shops you’re considering. One sign of a great repair shop is one that is willing to explain what they do and what you’re paying them for. An estimate might take some time to create, but should include a breakdown of repairs, including the costs for parts and labor.

Consider more than the Total Cost

Remember that parts, labor, and overhead costs can vary from shop to shop. Higher costs do not necessarily mean better repairs or better parts. If you’re looking at shops in the same area and you find one that is a lot higher or lower than the others, ask why. Sometimes, different shops use different kinds of repair parts, and the parts you choose to use can affect the cost just as much as the shop’s location or labor charges.

Shops should always use the OEM repair guidelines, be willing to answer your questions, and have a record of good reviews.

Trust the Experts

While the Internet is a useful tool and it can help you find advice to get a great collision repair estimate, it is not an estimating tool. Every make and model has a specific set of  repair procedures created by the manufacturer, and only by following these procedures can an estimate or repair be done correctly. Access to these procedures isn’t free online, so you’ll need to take your car to a repair shop and have it examined by a professional. If possible, take it to more than one so you have something to compare your estimate to.

While your insurance company may have an estimator, they too need to look at your vehicle in order to correctly estimate the cost of repairs. It’s not a process that can be done remotely.

So you’ve been in an accident, you’ve gotten estimates, selected your collision repair shop, and you’re ready to have your car back! Your repair technician brought up something called a pre and post collision diagnostic repair scan, but you’re not convinced it’s necessary. So, what do you need to know to make an informed decision?

A diagnostic scan looks for errors in your car’s computer systems.

A diagnostic scan looks at every computer system, sensor, or automatic feature in your car to make sure they’re working right. Today’s vehicles are full of so much technology that they often have hundreds or thousands of computer systems working together to operate things like cruise control, rear backup cameras, blind spot sensors, or lane departure warnings.

Virtually every car produced since 1996 can benefit from a scan.

The mid-90s brought us the first car with computer systems that did not trigger dashboard warning lights. The number of computers in cars today is so much higher than the number of dashboard warning lights – there isn’t room to put that many warning lights in a car.

Today’s computer systems are so diverse, they change so rapidly, and they aren’t standard among different auto manufacturers that there isn’t one scanning system that works for every vehicle. They require wireless access

Your insurance company may not want to pay.

Insurance companies and auto manufacturers are in disagreement over when diagnostic repair scans are necessary. Most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), like Ford, Honda, and GM, have released statements saying that diagnostic scans are necessary for most cars after an accident to ensure passenger safety. Insurance companies want more clarity and more specific guidelines so they aren’t paying for unnecessary scans, or scans that don’t find any errors.

Auto manufacturers release repair guidelines for every car.

Every auto manufacturer (OEM) releases repair procedures for every make and model of every vehicle they produce. Your repair technician should always follow the OEM repair procedures. If these procedures state that a diagnostic scan is necessary, it’s likely for your safety.

If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask your repair technician or your insurance company!

What can you do about diagnostic scans?

You can find many of the official OEM statements regarding diagnostic scans at www.oem1stop.com. If your insurance company states that they won’t pay for a scan and your repair technician says it’s necessary, call your insurance company.