boy looking at a map on a family road trip

How to Keep Your Car Clean During a Family Road Trip

Keeping your vehicle from becoming a disaster while traveling with kids

While all of us at Collision Center of Andover know what weather and accidents can do to the outside of your car, we know there’s another force of nature that regular keeps many of you from maintaining a nice interior.

Children

a toddler strapped into a car seat for a family vacationKids can make the task of keeping a vehicle clean seem impossible. And of course, some of us adults can also be guilty of regularly contributing to the clutter.

Working to keep your car clean on a regular basis is challenging enough. A road trip with the whole family packed in the vehicle for many hours over many days means your car may resemble the inside of a trash can before returning home.

Whether you’re headed across Kansas or across the country, here are some tips to prevent the inside of your car looking like a disaster on your vacation.

The 2 items that can make car clean-up easy (or at least easier)

  1. A trash bag
    Or several! Make sure you have enough small bags (grocery bags work well) to last the duration of your trip. You’ll want to be sure there is one in reach of each person in the vehicle. This way, all the cups, receipts, wrappers and miscellaneous trash that gets accumulated along the road trip have a place to go.
  1. An activity bag for each kid
    You might consider this a miscellaneous bag. Fill a bag (backpacks work great for this) for each kid with items that will help keep them entertained along the way. Some great things to put in an activity bag include:
    • Crayons, pens
    • Notebook, coloring book
    • Books
    • Hand-held games
    • A few toys (hot wheels, Barbie dolls, etc)

    Beyond this bag serving the purpose of bringing the items along that will help keep kids entertained in the car, it will also serve as the holding place for those items to return to. After all, crayons and notebooks that get taken out will need a place to go when your child discards them for another activity. Using a separate and designated activity bag, instead of putting these items in the luggage with your clothes, means that those luggage bags can remain tucked away in your trunk.

The right cleaning supplies for a road trip

photo taken from the backseat looking at parents in the front seats of a vehicle driving on a highwayBeing on a trip should be an enjoyable time, not one you spend worrying about a dirty car, but a little bit of quick, on-the-spot cleaning (as needed) can go a long way. At the time of a spill, even having just the bare essentials will help you address the spill right away, when it’s something that can be easily wiped away. This may keep you from having to deal with time-consuming deep-cleaning after you return home.

The basics of being ready to handle quick little messes include just two items:

1. Wipes
2. Paper towels

 

 

 

Put your stops to use

a child putting on their seat belt inside a vehicleStaying on top of the mess can be as simple as “old mess out before new mess in”. Use the stops you make for a fill-up or a fast food break as moments to make a quick vehicle clean-up.  Have the kids fill up the trash bags you’ve brought along with whatever trash they’ve accumulated before the next round of food and drink enter the vehicle.  Have them look around and put any of their books, crayons, or toys that are lying around into their activity bag.

Want to make sure your vehicle is travel ready before your trip? Schedule an appointment with us for us to make sure your car is ready for your next road trip.

driving on icy roads

The 7 Sins Drivers Make in the Winter

Are you guilty of making these winter driving mistakes?

The winter season for us in the Wichita area and across the Midwest poses different challenges and issues for you on the road. But staying safe in the winter is more than just making sure your vehicle is ready for Wichita’s next winter of harsh weather. Drivers need to be prepared as well. From how you maintain your vehicle to how you handle it on the road, there are common mistakes many drivers make during the winter.

Here is the checklist of the 7 things NOT to do as well as the tips to prevent avoidable problems.

  1. Warming the car too long. Letting your vehicle get warmed up for a couple of minutes is fine, but engines are not designed to idle for too long. This can cause build-up on the spark plugs and make them less efficient. Also, this can waste gas.
  2. Neglecting to change your windshield wipers. This is often an overlooked item as we tend to let the streaks get worse for a while before we get around to fixing the problem. You should change your windshield wipers as soon as they don’t clear the windshield well.
  3. Having low tire pressure. Cool weather makes the air compress inside your tires leaving you with low pressure. Be sure to check for the tire pressure warning light as temperatures begin to dip. In addition, make sure to do a visual check of your tires, especially when we encounter sudden significant drops in temperature.
  4. Having a nearly-empty gas tank. Even if you’re not at risk of running out of gas, you may face other problems if you allow your gas tank to get low during the winter. Moist air in a near-empty tank can freeze and crystallize leading to ice in the fuel lines.
  5. Using hot water to de-ice. You may be looking for a quick fix to clear your windows from frost, ice and snow in order to get right on the road but dumping a bucket of hot water on your vehicle is not the answer. This can cause your windshield to crack. Be sure your vehicle has a reliable scraper inside. Also keep one in your house if the ice is preventing you from opening your car doors.
  6. Even when the roads appear dry, there could exist problems you can’t see, such as black ice. Maintain a steady speed below the speed limit or as slow as conditions warrant. It’s not just a slippery road that could be a hazard, but also other drivers. Winter conditions may cause other people on the road to be overly cautious, or impatient by those who are going slow, so it’s best to give yourself plenty of room between cars to stay safe from those potential dangers. AAA advises that when driving on rainy and snowy roads, you should increase your following distance to 8 to 10 seconds.
  7. Slamming the brakes to avoid an accident. Hitting your brakes too hard can make your car spin out of control. When faced with your car suddenly sliding on wintry roads, the best thing to do is stay calm, gently turn the steering wheel INTO the direction you are sliding and then lightly tap the brake.

For more information on the best ways to protect you and your vehicle over the next Wichita winter, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Winter Driving Tips.

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Collision Center of Andover provides fast, reliable collision repair in and around the Wichita area. Check out our before-and-after examples to see how we can completely fix your dented car. From collision repair, paintless dent repair to mechanical repairs and more, count on the repair experts to get your vehicle running and back in shape.

car on a very snowy Wichita road in the winter

Winter is Coming: Is Your Vehicle Ready?

If you find yourself stranded in snow or ice, that is not the time to wonder if your car is sufficiently equipped. Take some basic steps before the first day of winter to ensure you and your family are prepared for problems you may encounter on wintry roads.  Once you pull your winter coat out of storage and start turning on your furnace, that’s also the time to take the necessary measures to make sure you’re in good shape before the worst of winter strikes.

Most of the ways you can get your car or truck ready for inclement weather can be done by yourself if you have some basic or moderate-level car maintenance know-how.

Check Your Fluids

  • Coolant: Be sure you have the coolant filled to the maximum line AND that you have the correct antifreeze/water mixture to keep your fluid from freezing. You can find a coolant tester at an auto parts store. Your owner’s manual will have the information on what your vehicle needs.
  • Oil: Some vehicles do best in freezing temperatures if you switch to a thinner oil. Check your owner’s manual or talk to a skilled mechanic.
  • Wiper Fluid: This is definitely a fluid you shouldn’t forget about. Before freezing temperatures hit, switch to a freeze-resistant wiper fluid so you’ll be sure to always have a clear view.

 Check Your Tires

More than just worrying about a flat, you also need to be sure your tires are giving you enough traction on slippery roads. Low air pressure and worn tires can reduce your tire’s traction.

  • Air Pressure: Check your owner’s manual for the recommended PSI for your vehicle. Use a tire gauge to know when you’ve put the correct amount in your tires.

Pack an Emergency Kit

Just as you should prepare an emergency kit in advance of tornadoes and dangerous spring storms, you should take a few minutes to gather together a winter kit of items that will prove very helpful if you find yourself stranded in the cold.

  • Phone Battery Charger: If your car breaks down and the engine won’t start, there goes your power source for your cell phone. Purchase a battery charger that you reserve for this winter kit so that it always remains fully charged and ready in case of an emergency.
  • Warm Coverings: You may find yourself waiting a couple hours for a tow truck without being able to use your car’s heater. Keep a hat, gloves and even a blanket in your vehicle. If you frequently travel with others (including pets), be mindful to keep enough extras for your regular passengers.
  • Kitty Litter: When you find your tires deep into a few feet of snow, you’re going to need some added traction to help you out. Kitty litter or sand can be poured onto the snow to help your tires get the necessary traction.
  • Ice Scraper
  • Flashlight
  • Small shovel

While this kit will be kept inside your vehicle, you should also have one more item that is kept OUTSIDE your vehicle. A De-Icer spray can help you make your way into a car that’s frozen shut, but only if it’s not trapped inside the vehicle. Consider keeping one at both your home and workplace so you’re never frozen out.

Protection from Salt Damage:

Give your vehicle a fresh coat of wax before the first snow and then wash it regularly during the winter. While rust isn’t the problem it once was with older vehicles, salt can build up in some areas. Have the wheel wells and underbody washed regularly to keep them clear from too much salt.

Let your Car Warm Up:

Just because you can start driving once you’ve started your car up doesn’t mean you should. Allowing your car to idle for a bit will give the oil a chance to heat up, thin out, and flow more smoothly. Start up your car before you tackle brushing off the snow and that should provide enough idle time.

Know your Towing Service:

Suffering a collision or being stranded with a dead vehicle isn’t the best time to worry about finding a reliable towing service who will get to you quickly. The Collision Center of Andover provides 24/7 full-service towing to Wichita and Andover, towing any passenger vehicle to any destination or the shop of your choice. Put our number, (316) 719-2100, in your contacts so you’ll be ready to call right away when you need us.

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Collision Center of Andover offers high-quality, reliable repair and towing service. Check out our before-and-after examples to see how we can completely fix your dented car. From collision repair, paintless dent repair to mechanical repairs and more, count on the repair experts to get your vehicle running and back in shape.

deer in grass. Fall is the time to be alert for possible deer collisions.

Oh deer! What happens AFTER I hit a deer?

It can happen in an instant. You see a blur, an object suddenly ahead of you on the road. There’s no time to avoid it. You’ve hit a deer. And now your vehicle has probably suffered damage from hitting a deer. It happens to more than a million of us every year in the U.S. While there’s not much you can do to prevent it, there are some basic steps every driver needs to know to do if this startling situation happens to them.

Deer morguefile 1030x686 - Oh deer! What happens AFTER I hit a deer?

What’s the cost?

The average collision with a deer ends up costing each driver on average about $3000 – $4000. But some collisions can end up costing as much as $10,000 or higher.

When am I at the greatest risk for hitting a deer?

Watch out especially on your way to the pumpkin patch or out to Thanksgiving dinner. During the fall and early winter is when you face your biggest risk for hitting a deer. Dawn and dusk are the two times of day when deer are most active and most likely to run out on the road.

After I hit a deer, what do I do?

  1. Pull your vehicle off to the side of the road or other safe place. Be sure it’s at enough of a distance from other drivers. Chances are this accident happened at dawn or dusk, when the light isn’t great to see everything around you.
  2. Call the police. If the collision resulted in injury or damage to your vehicle or other property, you may need to fill out an official report. This report may be helpful for your insurance claim.
  3. Get out your cell phone’s camera. While now is not the time for a selfie, it is definitely the time to take photos. Be sure to get plenty:
    1. Damage to your vehicle
    2. Damage to any other property
    3. The roadway and your surroundings
    4. Injuries you or your passengers sustained

    Be sure you’re watching the road and your surroundings so that you are staying safe while you are taking these photos.

  1. Is the animal still alive? Steer clear of it. An injured and frightened deer could cause you damage with its legs and hooves.
  2. Take a pause before pulling back out on the road. Your car might not actually be safe to drive. Look for broken lights, leaking fluid, tire damage or other safety hazards. If anything seems off making it not safe to drive, call us for a tow. The Collision Center of Andover provides 24/7 quick, full-service towing to Wichita and Andover, towing any passenger vehicle to any destination or the shop of your choice. Call (316) 719-2100.
  3. Contact your auto insurance agent so they can start work immediately on your claim. Deer collision claims are usually covered under comprehensive insurance, not collision. Or to make things easier, when you call our shop just ask for Insurance Claims Assistance and we’ll work to help handle the process.

Animal collisions of any kind are unfortunate. The key to minimizing the damage is to follow the basic steps for your vehicle and others around you to make sure you aren’t put into any more danger. The best things you can do in advance is to check your insurance and see if you’re properly covered if you were to hit a deer. Also be sure to have a trusted repair shop ready to call if an accident happens to you. Better yet, find a repair shop that also will handle your towing!

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Collision Center of Andover offers high-quality, reliable repair and towing service. Check out our before-and-after examples to see how we can completely fix your dented car from a deer collision or other accident. From collision repair, paintless dent repair to mechanical repairs and more, count on the repair experts to get your vehicle running and back in shape.

Resources:

https://www.statefarm.com/simple-insights/safety/6-immediate-steps-to-take-if-you-hit-a-deer-with-your-car

https://www.carstar.com/blog/oh-deer-accidents-happen/

 

paintless dent repair andover

Paintless Dent Repair 101

Whether you were in an accident, you were trying to teach your son or daughter how to parallel park, or you simply sat inside while hail ravaged your car, dents are a fact of life for almost all car owners. Dents and dings often don’t hinder the performance of your car (though they sometimes can), but they do ruin the aesthetic appeal of your car.

Many people are afraid to get dents fixed because they are worried that it will cost them an arm and a leg to have the dent removed, the paint fixed, plus some may worry about the time and labor involved in repairing dents. However, paintless dent repair (PDR) means that you don’t have to go through all of that struggle and all of that cash!

Paintless dent repair is designed to remove the dent, get your car back to its original shape, and look great – all without compromising the vehicle’s paint job.

At Collision Center of Andover, we have vast experience in repairing cars while still keeping that factory paint in pristine condition. We have been trained thoroughly on the complicated art of paintless dent repair, and would love to help you with your car.

Check out this picture that shows just how well paintless dent repair works:

paintless dent repair andover

 

Why get paintless dent repair?

Paintless dent repair is the best way to maintain your vehicle’s value, even after having a problem. Dents and dings, at least according to Auto Trader, will decrease your vehicle’s resale value, especially if you have to get them patched with paint that isn’t the factory paint finish.

Paintless dent repair also keeps the turnaround time to a minimum as we are able to get your car back to you in a few days, as opposed to a few weeks for conventional body work and paint.

Fixing the Dent:

While you might be able to find a ton of online tutorials on how to fix a dent by yourself – techniques that include anything from machines that you can rent from your local hardware store to plungers that you can find in your own bathroom, we at Collision Center of Andover have a word of advice: DON’T DO IT.

Those who specialize in paintless dent repair have gone through many hours of training and have practiced on countless cars so we know exactly what we are doing. Trying to remove the dent yourself could result in bigger problems, wasted time and worse, may hurt your paint to the point that we cannot save it.

paintless dent repair solution

 

Still, if you want an overview on how we will approach your car, or what happens during our Paintless Dent Repair service, keep reading!

Step 1: Free access to the dent.

When we first start to remove your dent, we have to access the dent. The removal is done from the underside of the panel, so we have to have that free access to get to the dent itself. To free up that access, we have to remove any of the trims that are in our way. For example, if the dent is on the roof of the car, we will have to remove the hood sound pad so that we can access it. However, there is one place where we might not have to remove trims. If your dent is in your door, there is a method we can use where the window opening is utilized.

paintless dent repair company

 

Step 2: Setting Up the Area

We have to make sure that we have the proper lights that will allow us to see every single level of the dent. This includes setting up dent lights, but we also have to open all of the doors so that we can get light throughout the car. Failure to do this will mean that while the dent looks great from one level, as soon as you take a few steps to the left or right, you can still see the dent.

Step 3: Tool Selection

We have a variety of paintless dent repair tools at our shop to help fix your dent – tools that you won’t be able to rent at a local store.

Step 4: Understand how to Fix the Dent

There is really no easy way to explain how to fix a dent on your car. However, we will give you a basic overview:

When a dent occurs in your car, the metal is actually stretched back and transformed. This means that, unlike popular belief, the metal cannot just be pushed out or “popped” back into place. Instead, the metal itself needs to be shifted back to what it originally was.

Doesn’t really seem as easy as those tutorials led you to believe, right?

What paintless dent repair does is slowly push the metal back into itself to shrink it back to size. We do this by essentially putting a series of smaller dents that will eventually look corrugated, but will have the metal back to its original size.

Of course, we have to then make sure that the corrugated effect is gone by continuing to mold and mesh the metal back to its original size.

Step 5: Inspection

When we have finished molding and fixing the dent, we inspect the spot in many different lights and angles so that we can ensure that the dent is truly gone. While we are usually satisfied with these first results, we will go back and fix any imperfections that we see. We want your car to get back to you as good as new – literally.

Contact Us!

Collision Center of Andover strives to meet every single one of your car repair needs after a collision or situation that leaves your car in a less than desirable shape. Our team has years and years of vehicle repair under our belts, and we are continually trying to learn the latest and most effective techniques to get you back behind the wheel as soon as possible.

If you are interested in finding out more about our paintless dent removal service or any of the other services that we offer, contact us today and see just how we can help you!