There are four main causes of wintertime auto damage: extreme weather, minor “bump” accidents, crashes and neglected maintenance. Thanks to the buildup of ice and snow this time of year, chances of receiving a ding, dent or scrape are high. Your vehicle is a target anywhere you travel or park in the Madison WI area.
Are minor bumps and door dings unavoidable in winter? Maybe not, but you can minimize your risk. Consider these tips to reduce wintertime auto damage:
- Plan for traffic – when roads are snow-covered and slippery, travel on the main, treated roads as much as possible. There’s less slipping and sliding on well-traveled routes instead of back roads and side streets.
- Take care of your tires – you want the best traction you can get, right? Make sure your tires have good tread. Even the best tires won’t eliminate sliding but they’re the first step toward maintaining control.
- Drive defensively – never slam on the brakes if you start to slide, keep extra distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you and watch your speed. Slow-speed “bumps” cause everything from serious dents to minor blemishes – both bringing you to the auto body shop for paint and repairs.
- Clean your car – make sure you can see out of every window and remove snow and ice from headlights. When the weather reduces visibility you don’t want to make it worse, do you? Remove ice and snow from all surfaces including the top, trunk deck and hood.
Minor Wintertime Auto Damage – Can You Prevent It
Door dings and minor dents can happen almost anywhere – even in your own driveway. And, they can show up almost anywhere on your vehicle. Sometime in the life of your car, truck or SUV you’ll have to deal with an unsightly blemish. It might mar the surface, leave a dent or just “swap paint.” Since even the most minor-looking scratch can open the protective coating and allow moisture to enter, rust is a potential problem.
It’s a fact that most door dings and minor dents are not the owner’s fault. We’ve all come back from a trip to a store and spotted a chip, scratch or little dent on a door or fender panel, haven’t we? Is there anything more annoying? These irritants might come from another car door or a misguided shopping cart.
Since you cannot control the actions of others there’s little you can do to avoid a parking lot scape – especially when ice and snow complicate maneuvering. There are steps you can take reduce the chance:
- Give yourself room – when you can, park away from other cars. If you notice a vehicle over or on a parking space’s lines, don’t squeeze in. That’s a door ding waiting to happen.
- Open doors carefully – when you pull up to a gas pump, another vehicle or a building you can inflict auto body damage on your own vehicle if you’re not careful.
- Go slow – if there’s even a hint that a parking lot or roadway is slippery, take it easy when parking or pulling up behind another car. Save yourself the aggravation of dealing with dented side panels, doors or bumpers.
- Watch your mirrors – mirrors stick out where they are easily struck by passing vehicles, shopping carts, snow throwers and shovels.
Auto Paint Repair – Matching Colors Isn’t Easy
How many “little” scratches does it take before you decide something has to be done? And, do you think touching up a scratch or scrape is a do-it-yourself project? Take the advice of a professional, it’s not as easy as you think. Modern era vehicles have sophisticate paints and protective clear coat finishes. There’s more to making a paint repair than finding a matching color. It takes tools, technique and training.
A quick DIY fix might make the situation worse. You can find a touchup paint matching the manufacturer’s specifications but does it really match your car? Probably not. There are more elements in play than just paint color. Covering the scratch might involve filling in a scrape, sanding and buffing. It might require taking out a dent. All these steps impact getting the perfect match. You want your vehicle’s paint to match, not look patched, don’t you?
Most factory paints are clear-coated catalyzed enamel. Most aftermarket touchup paints are lacquers. Lacquer-based paints – clear, colored or primers – shrink when they dry. Enamels do not. Selecting a paint with your vehicle identification number (VIN) doesn’t guarantee a match. What, that doesn’t make sense? The auto-maker says it’s the exact same paint, why doesn’t it look right?
Touchup paints match the color as it left the factory. Your car has aged and been exposed to burning RV rays, brittle cold and layers of dirt and ice. Your car’s surface has changed and so has its paint.
Auto Painting – The Professional Advantage
When your wintertime auto damage leads to new paint, professional options offer high-end solutions. An auto paint shop takes into account all the elements changing your vehicle’s surfaces – exposure to the weather, age, road grime, etc.
Repainting to repair scrapes, dings and dents is a multi-step process including:
- Sanding– multiple sanding effort providing an even surface.
- Filling– evening out the irregularities.
- Priming– preparing the area for paint.
- Painting– applying the right paint, the exact color and a protective clear coat. Painting a small area or an entire panel, blending new paint with weathered surfaces for a true match.
Finding somebody to paint your car isn’t difficult. Finding a specialist who can diagnose exactly what you need is not. Assessing the damage takes skill and experience. Can you tell one kind of scratch from another? An AutoColor paint technician can. They put scratches into categories including:
- Hairline scratches – a blemish you can barely see, it mars the surface of the clear coat. Most can be treated with buffing and a good wax.
- Minor scratches – deeper and more pronounced than a hairline scratch but deeper into the clear coat. Most do not reach the real paint. Minor repairs include touchup paint and surface protection.
- Deep scratches – going through the clear coat all the way to paint (worse yet, bare metal). The most serious scratches these leave metal exposed to corrosion.
Paintless Dent Repair – Great Choice For Wintertime Auto Damage
Since many dents in winter are the result of low-speed bumps fixing them without major auto body work is essential. Modern materials allow fenders, bumpers and side panels to be repaired without new paint. Advances in paintless dent repair (PDR) reduce the time and cost invested in dealing with minor dents. Under the right conditions, dents from the size of a dime to the size of a football are right for PDR. For the flurry of fender benders winter driving leads to, removing dents efficiently without the delay and added cost of painting is ideal.
Removing dents without repainting has additional advantages:
- It protects the integrity of the car’s finish – PDR protects against corrosives
- It applies to any make or model no matter age
- The process is not invasive so the finish matches all around the car
- It is fast and efficient – often completed in a day
- The process often doesn’t require an insurance claim to cover the cost
AutoColor’s experienced body shop professionals are ready to get your car, truck and SUV back on the road quickly. Drawing up on the latest technology we’ve got everything it takes to deal with dings, dents and scrapes. Call or stop into one of our local shops: in Middleton on Parmenter Road or on Madison’s East Side on Stoughton Road near Buckeye.
From paintless dent repairs to professional, custom auto body painting, AutoColor is the area’s first choice to handle wintertime auto damage and auto body repairs in the Madison WI area.