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Car Almost Done With Repairs, What Do I Need to Look For?

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My insurance company has provided me with a rental car while my own Honda Civic is in for repairs. I’ve been driving around a 2007 Saturn Ion. It doesn’t have many extra features, such as power windows, but it has been an adequate temporary replacement.

My car should be ready to be picked up today or tomorrow. Due to the accident, I needed to have the driver’s side door panels replaced as well as the fenders. There was damage to the frame, so they are taking care of that as well. As of yesterday, they’ve painted all the new parts and are reassembling the car.

A friend suggested I pick up the car only when it is sunny, as the clouds or darkness can hide problems such as unmatching paint. Please feel free to leave any suggestions about what I should look for when picking up the car.

Updated December 20, 2011 and originally published November 9, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Debt Free

A 2007 car without power windows?? I didn’t know such an animal even existed these days. How’d you ever get by?

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avatar Luke Landes

It’s rough, I tell you. I don’t have my EZ-Pass in this car, so I have to actually interact with someone to pay tolls everyday, and roll down the window to do so. It’s a rough life. :>

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avatar andy

Daylight is a definite plus – do NOT pick it up at night.

Things to look out for:
* Do the door and hood swing smoothly and properly?
* Does the door sound “right” when it closes?
* Does the paint color match?
* Check the door jamb. Does it show any sign of the accident? I almost bought a car last year, that looked to be in good condition, but upon looking at the driver’s side front door jamb, it was clear that the car had been hit in the front left corner – the paint on the jamb (both on the door and on the car) was nicked up pretty badly, and they hadn’t fixed it when they repaired the rest of the car.
* Is the paint and clearcoat smooth and even? There should be no signs of “orange peel”, ripples, etc.
* Is there paint overspray visible anywhere? For example, if they painted the fender on the car, did any spray hit the tires, headlights or engine, which should have been masked?
* On all gaps (between body panels – fender to door, fender to hood, etc.), is the gap consistent the whole length, and consistent with other gaps on the car?
* Inside door panel installed properly?
* All electrical hookups correct (lights, power windows, power mirrors, heated mirrors)?
* Is everything that should be there, there?
* Is everything under the hood in good condition and in place?
* You said the frame got tweaked in the accident? Make sure that an alignment was performed, after the frame was straightened.
* Make sure the car drives JUST like it did before. If something doesn’t seem “right” (shakes, pulls, anything), have them check it out. I had an accident about 3 years ago and the truck actually drove better after they were done fixing it than it did pre-accident.

Above all, do not be afraid to take a good flashlight (not a 1-AAA keychain Mag-Lite) with you and go over the car really closely before you drive off. The insurance company paid for the car to be “restored to original condition” or something along those lines, make sure it happens. They won’t have a representative there.

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avatar Luke Landes

Thanks for the very excellent list. It’s a great help!

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avatar Robin

hey, am I recalling correctly that you have the civic hybrid? I’m considering buying a hybrid or biodiesel vehicle for my next car but would love to hear your experiences if, indeed, you own a hybrid. then again, my mind may be playing tricks on me.

also: i enjoy your weblog, but think it would be cool if you discussed environmental cost versus financial cost in some of your entries. my present challenge concerns how to be environmentally as well as fiscally repsonsible. that said, i did just decide to pay 1.3 cents per kilowatt hour more for my electricity so i can have clean, green power for my home. it may lessen my personal savings somewhat, but i feel that the evironmental savings are well worth it.

you know me, so you can e-mail me privately if you like.

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avatar Luke Landes

Very nice to hear from you, Robin! I have the standard Civic LX, not the hybrid. I’ll probably hold on to this car for many years, and by the time it’s time to buy, I’m hoping the technology and efficiency has improved somewhat.

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