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Minor Repairs, Major Bills – Don’t Let this Happen to You!

Fentons Auto Repair

Fentons Auto RepairA small bodywork scratch: $1,500. An exhaust valve replacement: $3,500. A new trunk-release switch cover: $150.

All are actual repair costs recounted to AOL Autos from drivers who took their cars to their auto shops with seemingly minor problems only to be hit by disproportionately expensive repair bills.

And unless a motorist wants to fix the fault themselves or buy a new vehicle, most drivers in similar situations are left with little choice but to stump up the cash and grin and bear it. Or at least grit their teeth, hold their tongue, and then bear it.

We take a look at some common repair jobs that can add up to a pretty penny.

Beyond the bumper

Deana May, at Los Angeles, California-based AC Auto finishing, knows what surprises can lay in store for a customer once they get behind a simple surface scratch or abrasion.

“It’s a scary thing — looks can be deceiving. You can do an estimate on a front bumper then take it off and behind it there’s all kinds of damage. Low-profile cars with low-profile tires go over a bump or up a driveway, they don’t take an angle, often they need a whole new front end.”

May says they see a lot of this type of problem at her shop and says a Lotus driver last month was quoted a cool $5,400 to repair his car, though from looking at it she couldn’t tell there was much wrong.

Also she warns of the dangers — and costs — of drivers getting erroneous quotes for repairs with high-performance parts, such as for an AMG or Brabus for a Mercedes, and then receiving standard or stock components in their place.

$150 cover up

Mark Essig, a writer in a small town in North Carolina, says he was astonished to be charged $150 by a local mechanic to replace a missing cover for the trunk-release switch in his ten-year-old Mercedes CLK. While expensive repair bills are not uncommon for upscale European marques, Essig says this one was the icing on a frosty $2,000 repair bill he’d expected to come in at much less. He also noted it came as an additional cost not included in the estimate.

He says: “It was part of a $2000 repair bill that included valve cleaning and brake work, and I was so sick to my stomach that I couldn’t quibble over $150. Best part was, I didn’t ask him to do it.”

Meanwhile, Porsche 944 owner Michael Russell, an AOL Autos friend, found out to his cost that buying a old-school German car could unexpectedly cost more than he bargained for. A $15 exhaust valve replacement cost him $3,500 once labor was taken into account.

Basically, he says, they had to rip out the engine to get to the valve, which had burned out, a common ailment in older performance vehicles. But without the repair, he says, he had no way of getting to work.

Air wear

I found this cost when I took my wife’s 1995 Nissan 240SX S-ER to my local mechanic’s last week to fix the air conditioning. I’d already taken it into the shop the week before, where they’d diagnosed a leaking gasket that had depressurized the system. So they duly fixed the gasket, re-filled the system with Freon coolant and pressurized it. Bill: $300.

Not bad for an AC fix, I thought, until two days later the system again began blowing hot. So it was back into the shop, where they took a second look at it before telling me another seal had broken, this time in a hard-to-reach spot, meaning extra labor. Estimated cost: $800.

When I pointed out that the original fix was under warranty, my mechanic agreed but argued that a different component had malfunctioned and therefore the additional repair was not under warranty. Many more attempts at bargaining failed. Result: I’m $300 out of pocket, and my wife has a long, hot summer to look forward to (unless she nabs my car, which is likely).

Advice: Get a second opinion, and always assess general system integrity when replacing individual components on older-model cars.

Read More: “Car Horror Stories: Minor Repairs, Major Bills”, posted by

Regardless of the nature of your repair, you don’t have to worry about being overcharged at Fenton’s Custom & Collision. We take pride in offering reliable and affordable auto body and auto repair services. Give us a call today at (618) 568-BODY (2639) to discuss your needs, or REQUEST A QUOTE using our online form.

When to Repair a Windshield Crack

crackedwindshieldWindshield cracks are often the result of chips which were left unrepaired and grew into a larger problem.

Sometimes an object may strike the windshield with such force that a crack is created instantly. In fact, when glass cracks on impact it happens at a speed of over 3,000 miles per hour. There are many different types of cracks. For example, they may appear in a starburst pattern, with multiple cracks leading away from the point of impact, or they may appear as one long crack. It is important to seek repairs for windshield cracks as soon as they occur, so that a more expensive windshield replacement can be avoided. It’s not uncommon that a small starburst will grow into unrepairable 11″ crack just in a matter of a few days. It is rare, but in some states drivers with significant cracks in their windshields will be pulled over and issued a ticket by police officers. The reason behind this is that a large crack can reduce visibility and make that particular driver a hazard to others. This is yet another reason to have the crack repaired quickly. In some cases it may be difficult for a customer to tell the difference between a scratch and a crack in their windshield. The difference is that a scratch in the windshield does not go all the way through the outer layer of glass, like a crack does. If you are not sure whether you have a crack or a scratch, consult an auto glass technician first, as the cost of fixing a scratch is lower, and often can be done without going to auto glass repair shop with a basic polishing kit.

Can a windshield crack be repaired?

The general rule for cracks is that anything which fits underneath a dollar bill can be repaired. Larger cracks usually require replacement of the entire windshield, but there is one company, Ultrabond, which can repair cracks up to 24 inches long. Another rule is that cracks containing significant debris inside often cannot be repaired. For this reason, it is recommended that car owners place clear packing tape over any cracks until they bring their car to a technician for repair. It is important to use clear packing tape only, as any other type of tape may leave adhesive residue in the crack, and could make the repair more difficult. Sometimes a technician will be able to tell, before attempting the repair, that the result will be poor. In this case a new windshield will be recommended, so that the customer will have a clear windshield that allows for safe driving. Customers are also advised not to wash their cars before seeking crack repair, because water in the crack may increase repair time or make the crack worse. Exposure to extreme elements can also increase damage, so avoiding heat in the summer and freezing cold in the winter is ideal. Of course, the sooner a repair is performed, the better the outcome will be. It is important to remember that it is not always possible to remove all debris from the crack, especially if the customer waited several weeks or longer before seeking the repair. In this case the repair may not always result in a perfectly clear windshield, as a small amount of debris that could not be removed may remain embedded in the area of the repair. These types of cracks cannot be repaired:

  • stress cracks
  • cracks over 14 inches long
  • edge cracks that extend to more than one edge
  • cracks that are in the driver’s direct line of vision
  • cracks that will not fill properly due to contamination

Windshield Repair cost: cracks

The entire process for a windshield crack repair takes about thirty minutes. Generally the cost will be about sixty dollars for the first crack, and ten to fifteen dollars for additional cracks. In many cases, customers with comprehensive auto insurance plans can receive this repair free of charge. Others may have to pay a deductible or cover the entire cost themselves. Occasionally, the customer may have to pay the entire cost and then wait for reimbursement from their insurance company. Most windshield repair centers can contact insurance companies, so that the entire process is quick and easy for the customer. Some states actually have laws governing auto insurance deductibles, or even requiring insurance companies to cover windshield repair and replacement. Customers would be wise to research their own state’s laws and be aware of their rights, so that a repair does not end up costing more than it should. See our State-by-State Information on car windshield repair.

Read More: “Windshield Crack Repair”, posted by

Regardless of the size or severity of your windshield damage, we can help you at Fenton’s Custom & Collision. We take pride in offering reliable and affordable auto body and auto repair services, including windshield and window repair. Give us a call today at (618) 568-BODY (2639) to discuss your needs, or REQUEST A QUOTE using our online form.