A Service of Bill & Charlie's Auto Repair Call us at 517-374-6100

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Importance of a Police Report

If you're in an accident, even if it does not involve another car, get a police report.

If you're in a ditch, or have your vehicle stuck somewhere, call a tow truck.

These two instructions could end up saving you THOUSANDS of dollars, and that's not an exaggeration.

Here's why:

When you submit a claim to your insurance company, you need some proof to show that you are not trying to make a fraudulent claim. For example, let's say that you hit a patch of ice, and your car goes into a ditch. In that case, you should call a tow truck to get your car out, not try to get the car out yourself or with the help of a passerby. If any damage is done to your vehicle, either on the body or the mechanical parts, you may be able to submit an insurance claim and only have to pay a deductible. This comes in handy when you bring your car in and find that the accident you were in caused excessive damage, requiring a $2000 or more repair!

But without a police report or a tow bill, your insurance company has no way to verify if the situation causing the damage to your car was valid to your policy. So saving $50 on a tow charge or waiting for a police officer may just cost you a lot more than you thought!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Capital Area Humane Society

Here at Bill & Charlie's, we're all animal lovers. All of us have in one form or another. From my three overlords who rule my household with an iron nap, to Bryon's & on his farm. Heck, even one of Geri's cats walked in to our shop when I was back in high school and asked that we take her home. Because of all this love for our pets, we're announcing that we will be supporting the Capital Area Humane Society.

The Capital Area Humane Society has been rescuing countless numbers of animals who are looking for a home and a family since 1936. They have been promoting the humane treatment of pets, while working to end through aggressive education programs an accessible spay & neuter programs. In addition, the CAHS also has a and educational facilities at their expansive community donated building.

The list of the great things that the CAHS does for our community is far too great to explain in this single article, but you can find out just some of the fantastic programs and accomplishments that the CAHS does for the area by going to their fantastic website at www.cahs-lansing.org, where you can also view pets up for adoption.

As our way of donating, we are doing the following:
1. We'll be featuring pictures of animals up for adoption in our newsletter.
2. Host a CAHS Donation Box on our front desk. Remember, even your spare change can make a difference!
3. Donate to charity auctions such as the "FurBall".
4. Feature a link on our website on our Community Page.

We'll be updating you with any success stories, as well as a Donation Update every newsletter, so you can see what we as a community can accomplish! Together, we can make a difference in the lives of the animals who make a difference in ours!

- Ted

Monday, February 20, 2006

How to find the Right Mechanic

Recently, a poll on www.About.com found that about 48% of the 1328 people polled did not trust the they currently frequented. How can this be?

The answer is more obvious than you may think. Believe it or not, most people on the road today don't know the steps to find the right mechanic. This lack of awareness keeps people just like you bouncing from one to another, hopelessly searching for a mechanic they can trust. Even worse, some people have given up searching, accepting the fact that their mechanic might be taking advantage of them!

What most people don't realize, is that there are some EASY STEPS you can take to find a mechanic who has YOUR best interests in mind, WITHOUT SPENDING A DIME! What's more, you can learn that timing is everything, and how to locate the mechanic you want to do business with BEFORE you car needs service!

Step 1: Is the mechanic accessable? Call to find out!
Are they willing to take time to talk with you, without having met you? When you talk to them, do you feel as if you're just a distraction to their day? Calling on the phone is an easy, no cost way to find out if they're interested in doing the job right and EARNING YOUR BUSINESS. Remember, their phone manners are a direct representation of how they will treat you when you're in their shop in person!

Here's how you do it: Call the you're interested in having work done, and be prepared with a service question. For instance, ask how much their are, or what they charge for a . You could also ask a common question like what a entails at their shop, or if they provide . Here's where you find out whether or not the mechanic is worth giving a try: Ask them the reasoning behind their answer to your question.

SECRET: Most Auto Repair facilities are Hammered with phone calls all day long, by people who find their name in the phone book, and are looking for the cheapest price, or worse, telemarketers. Some shops even devote a recepionist to screen these phone calls so that their service writers and mechanics can have time to work on their client's cars! Let them know you're serious about doing business with them by mentioning that you were recommended by someone or heard that they had a good reputation around town.

Listen to their answer! What you want to hear is a reasonable explanation that points to how the is charging you a fair price while doing what takes to do the job right. For example, let's say you ask how much they charge for an . Beware of the Mechanic who answers with a flat rate price! Even worse, watch out for someone who doesn't explain what you're paying for! If someone quotes you $25 or $19.99, they might just be charging you to change your oil and filter, without doing a safety and maintenance checklist that will help you avoid problems before they strand you on the side of the road! The Right Mechanic will take the time to explain WHY they are charging the price they quote, and what that includes.

SECRET: Any Oil Change should inlcude a Safety & Maintenance Inspection, which includes a written checklist with estimates of how much maintenance services and repairs will cost. Expect to pay slightly more for this service, but the benifit of knowing where your car stands at all times is priceless!

Look for more steps on how to find the right mechanic coming soon as we complete our new website! If you're local to the Greater Lansing area, and are looking for a mechanic, we invite you to test us by our own standards, and call us at 517-374-6100 to talk to any one of our staff members!

Remember, your business should be EARNED, not Given Away!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Auto Body Tips

Working in the allows us to get to know other businesses working to serve everyone in our community. As such, we get the advantage of seeing others work in the case we need to send our own vehicles for work we cannot do ourselves. In this case, we have been frequenting Kalamazoo Auto Body for some time now, as they have done fantastic work for us as outsource jobs such as repainting replacement mirrors and fenders, in addition to trusting our own to their care. In fact, my own which had a need to repaint the rear due to an incident with a pole, has never looked better. I couldn't even believe that there was ever any damage.

Recently, Sue Irwin of Kalamazoo Auto Body sent us a letter thanking us for sending our clients to them for their repair needs. They also sent the following tips in order to help you understand how to use an Auto Body shop and what to do when you need one.

1) Your car is likely to be one of the largest investments you'll make, preserve its value by having it repaired professionally. Choose a shop that has certified technicians with designations such as I-CAR and ASE.

2. Never drive a car that could be unsafe because of damages, most insurance companies will pay for a vehicle to be towed to a body shop as part of the collision claim.

3) Some insurance companies may request that you visit a drive through claims office or have an estimate written by a specific , [however,] you always have the option of leaving your car at the collision shop of your choice and have the inspect the there.

4) You are not required by law to obtain more than one estimate.

5) You have the right to have your repaired at the repair shop of your choice. Your insurance company cannot require you to go to a particular shop.

6) Ask if the shop will be using genuine manufacturer (OEM) replacement parts.

7) Your insurance company may require the use of non-genuine replacement parts, these are commonly called "Aftermarket", or they may request used or salvage parts, these are often referred to as "LKQ" (like kind and quality). When shopping for , ask what kind of parts will be used if the vehicle is involved in an accident.

8) Ask if the shop offers a repair warranty.

9) Let the you choose help you negotiate your claim with the insurance company, this often leads to a better end result.

So if you find yourself needing some body work after a fender bender, or you just want to get the car repainted and restore some of its luster, do what we do, send your car to Kalamazoo Auto Body. Talk to Ted Irwin, and we're confident that you'll find their work as excellent as we have.

Kalamazoo Auto Body
2628 E. Kalamazoo St.
Lansing, MI 48912
517-484-8888 phone
517-484-1222 fax

Monday, February 06, 2006

Uh-oh, I've lost my keys? What do I do?

Think that a $50 - $100 fee to have a made for your is too expensive? Think again!

If you've ever been in a hurry, and cannot find your keys, you know how stressful it is. You look all over the place! They're not in your pocket, or in your purse, nor are they on the end table! What's worse, your spouse who has the other set is an hour away on business, and won't be home for a while now. Or perhaps you've dropped your set of keys in the snow, or locked them in the car. What do you do?

The best way to handle these frustrating scenarios is to have a spare set of keys available to you at all times. But what kind of key do you need and how much will it cost you? Well, it depends on who usually carries the and how much it costs to replace them.

If you are the only driver of your , odds are that you probably have two sets of keys. One of them is your primary set, one of them your spare set. If you're like me, you always have one set in your pocket. I go the extra step and keep the other set of keys on my (those colorful metal clasps used for mountain climbing) attached to my belt-loop. That way, I've always got another set of keys to unlock or drive my car should I not have the set in my pocket. But sometimes I need to give my spare set to someone else who will drive the car. In that case, I also have another key I had made that is also on my carabiner.

But what about those keys with the special microchips inside them that you need to start your car? More and more of these are coming standard on todays to ensure that no-one could make a copy of your key and steal your car. In this case, those keys can be purchased through a , although some key shops can now produce those keys, provided you have a , that would still need to be acquired by the dealership. The cost of one of these keys can range from $20 to even $100. It may seem like a steep price, but it's well worth it when you're in a bind and can't find your primary set of keys.

If the charge to replace a chip coded key is too much to stomach, you should still have a duplicate made without a chip. Most key shops can do this. For example, I don't really have the need of a third microchip key, but I do have a regular spare key, in case I don't have either of the two sets on me and need to get into the car. This becomes important, as many dealerships require a copy of your proof of insurance or title in order to have a key made, or get the microchip or keycut code. If you happen to lose both of your microchip keys, at least you can still get into the car to retrieve your registration or proof of insurance.

The most important thing is to devise a plan that works for you and implement it. If there are two drivers of the car, you really should have a third key at home on the key rack that can start the car. At the very least, both drivers should have a key that can at least open the door, and that key should be kept somewhere easily accessible when away from home, preferably in a purse, on a carabiner you wear, or in a stowaway key-box if you're able to secure one to your vehicle's undercarriage or in your engine compartment (assuming you can get into your engine compartment from outside).

It might seem expensive to have keys made for newer vehicles, but remember, that $50 you paid a tow service or locksmith to come and get you into your car could have been put towards some spare keys ;)

As always, if you have any questions on how to acquire spare keys or what kind of keys you need for your vehicle, simply call us at 517-374-6100.

- Ted

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Is Premium Gas worth the Money?

Now that we're all used to higher , are you wondering if you should be putting in your gas tank? Is it better? Will it give you better performance, or is it just money down the drain?

Well, believe it or not, the definitive truth is that you should follow your manufacturer's recommendation for the type of fuel you put in your tank. All you have to do is check your owner's manual, and sometimes it even says in your gas tank door or gas cap. Always stick with what your manufacturer recommends, unless you are on advise from your to use a higher grade of in order to avoid a problem like .

Most cars run on good old . And as it turns out, isn't better , nor does it do anything special for your like provide more power. Stick to what your manufacturer says. If however, you've lost your manual or don't see the information around the gas cap, don't fret. We can look up the recommended fuel type for you!

Simply call us at 517-374-6100 or email us by going to LansingCarCare.com, and we'll get you the information you need to keep your car in shape, and your wallet from letting too much money go at the pump ;)

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Email us for an appointment!

Just a reminder that we also accept email appointment requests. Simply fill out our form at LansingCarCare.com, and we'll or call you back with available times and dates we can service your vehicle.

It may seem somewhat odd to think about emailing your mechanic for an appointment, however, all over the country, many shops are witnessing this phenomena from the increased use of the web. As more people are using the web, and being accustomed to dealing with situations on their own time, our industry like all others, has to react and provide what it is that our clients would like. Interestingly, one statistic showed how one shop in particular received most of its email appointment requests on Friday nights.

So if your vehicle needs some work, or you just want to schedule an , don't worry if we're closed. Just send us an email with your preferred contact information, and we'll take care of the rest :)