California’s New HOV Stickers – Coming Soon

Beginning January 1, 2019, Assembly Bill 544 creates a new decal program to allow certain low emission vehicles to access high-occupancy vehicle lanes, regardless of vehicle occupancy level, for a four-year term. Access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes for vehicles with green and white decals will expire January 1, 2019. Vehicles issued a green or white decal in 2017 or 2018 will be eligible to reapply for a decal in 2019 granting them access to high–occupancy toll lanes until January 1, 2022. ~ California DMV

nothing free for EV in California

Kinda confused by the rules allowing clean cars into the much-prized diamond lanes in California? You’re not alone. Most Golden State residents seem to think that the DMV and the California Air Resources Board haven’t been great communicators…like Ronnie Reagan was so famous for being.

A new set of stickers for green vehicles (plug-in hybrids and battery electrics) will be issued Starting January 1, 2019 …and the anxiety level is already rising for many state motorists.  Here’s some of what we know so far:

  • The new sticker color and evaluation system are as yet-undetermined.  Regardless…on January 1, 2019…all previously existing stickers (white, green, and red) will become invalid (aka inoperative, says Karen Caesar, spokeswoman for CARB.d
  • The new program should be revealed in October or November…and “the vehicle eligibility requirements for the new decal mirror those used for the current white and green decal programs.” (John Swanton, a CARB air pollution specialist)
  • Drivers who were issued red, green, or white HOV stickers in 2017 or 2018 can apply for the new decals after January 1, 2019 that will be valid for three years.
  • New car buyers after January 1, 2019 who apply for a sticker will get to use the diamond lanes for up to four years. (..three full years plus “the partial year from when the decal was issued.” said Swanton).

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What Does Certified Pre-Owned Really Mean?

What’s the major attractive benefit to car buyers who are considering Certified Pre-Owned vehicles as a purchase? Answer: They’ve been through an exhaustive multi-faceted inspection and had any found issues already addressed. What’s whole point of the process?  The thorough inspections and ultimate CPO designation states that although the vehicle is no longer new, it’s still in premium working order…thereby justifying its premium pricing  compared to similar non-CPO vehicles.

Before any part of the inspection process even begins…it’s important to identify the vehicle as legal and legit…by making sure the VIN (vehicle identification number) matches what’s on file at the DMV…verifying a clean title. Carfax, AutoCheck, or some other vehicle history report is usually included for the buyer as a prerequisite.

What actually gets inspected?

  • Maximum mileage and age criteria…determined by each automaker individually. These thresholds reassure  buyers by creating high uniformity among the CPO vehicles being offered for sale.
  • Aftermarket add-ons – carmakers criteria range from zero tolerance for evidence of past aftermarket modifications…to allowing only those that “don’t compromise safety, emissions, or operation of the vehicle.”
  • Safety, emissions, and operation are all delved into deeply in every automaker’s CPO inspection. Major areas that get a close look are the braking system, transmission components and operation, and most everything inside the engine compartment. Fluid levels are checked. Individual components are inspected.
  • Cosmetic checks – items like front & rear bumpers and fascias, emblems & nameplates, moldings & appliqués, door handles, running boards & side steps etc.
  • Vehicle Interiors – safety equipment such as seatbelts and airbags as well as basic functions on the dash such as the stereo and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems. There’s also some fairly extensive cleaning that typically takes place, … Several automakers include cleaning the ashtray and cigarette lighters on their checklists… concerned with smell and makes sure that vehicles are “free of odor, including heavy fragrance.”
  • Hybrids typically have additional checkpoints such as the condition of the battery and a check of more specialized parts such as electric motors and the anti-theft vehicle-immobilizer system.

So…How do you know that the vehicle was actually put through this multipoint scrutiny the carmakers are promising? CPO inspection checklists end with a series of signatures of those responsible for the inspection process, as well as that of the customer buying the car. So, if you are ready to purchase a CPO car or truck and you aren’t offered an inspection checklist to sign, something is amiss.

Generally, the vehicles’ inspections are a fairly extensive list of checks that should give consumers added reassurance that a CPO vehicle is a better bet than its traditional used car scenario. Need more encouragement that CPO is the way to go? Here’s 5 good reasons CPO might be your strategy.

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Digital License Plates – Only in California

Who said California isn’t working on creative ways to reduce it’s $1.3 Trillion budget deficit? Maxine Waters…Nancy Pilosi?  Well, the land of Silicon wafers and honey has come up with a new way to transform a $21 stamped metal vehicle license plate and turn it into a brand new electronic $700 recurring revenue center with the potential for display advertising revenue (when the vehicle is parked).

 

It’s 2018…and the state of what was actually the original automotive information platform hasn’t changed since Massachusetts came up with this little bit of prison handicraft in 1903.  We’re still getting stickers in the mail that we put on a piece of metal and then screw that on our car usually with wood screws because you lost the correct screws that came with your vehicle.

California’s new license plate is being first tested in Sacramento with a fleet of 24 in-house city owned vehicles.  The digital display board allows updated messages to be controlled by the driver or remotely by fleet managers.  Using the same computer technology as Kindle eBook readers, along with a wireless communication system…the new plates come with their own computer chips and battery.

What are it’s main advantages?

  1. Electronic Registration & Renewals
  2. Electronic Transfer of Ownership

Motorists who choose to buy the plate can register their vehicles electronically and eliminate the need to physically stick tags on their plates each year. They also may be able to display personal messages — if the DMV decides to allow that.

What’s the price tag on this cutting edge technology…that already has stoke up concerns about privacy and safety?  A cool $700 (plus a monthly fee of about $7)…though not available through the DMV.

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MultiTasking Is A Myth – Distracted Driving Month

Distracted driving is a public health issue! WTH?…Health Issue? Yes, anything you can die from is a health issue.  And the latest reports indicated that motor vehicle fatalities are up 6% from 2015. In fact, more than 40,000 people were killed in 2017 on American roads and highways. Distracted driving was and still IS a major cause.

Each death is 100% preventable. Everything from cell phones to dashboard infotainment systems to evolving voice command features – all pose a threat to our safety. Just one second of your attention is all takes to change a life forever.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April is a united effort to recognize and eliminate preventable deaths from distracted driving. Get involved…Join us to help save lives.

 

Everywhere we go, we see drivers focused on their phones, their makeup, their snacks – anything but the road in front of them. As your teen driver gains experience behind the wheel, he or she will encounter these drivers more and more, while also dealing with his or her own distractions. Fortunately, you can help protect your teen from these risks.

 

It Was Just… – Distracted Driving Awareness Month April 2018

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Uber Takes Autonomous Blow With Fatal Collision

Uber Technologies has halted its testing of self-driving vehicles after a March 18 incident in which one of its cars struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz.

The Uber vehicle, a 2017 Volvo XC90, was in autonomous mode with a driver behind the wheel when it struck 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, according to Sgt. Ronald Elcock of the Tempe Police Department. Herzberg was walking a bicycle from one side of the road to the other when the accident occurred, and Elcock noted that she was “outside of the crosswalk.”

In the wake of the incident, Uber Technologies has suspended its testing of self-driving vehicles.

Read More – BodyShopBusiness

 

Self-driving Uber in Fatal Accident May Not Have Had Time to Stop, Police Say – CBS

Police say early indications show an Uber self-driving SUV may not have had time to stop or avoid hitting a pedestrian who was killed in Arizona. Uber suspended all testing of its autonomous vehicles after the Sunday night crash. It is the first-known pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving car. Kris Van Cleave reports.

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Woman dies after being hit by self-driving Uber – ABC News

The ride-sharing company is suspending testing of autonomous cars after one of its cars struck a pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg, 49, in Arizona.

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New High-Tech Car Paints You Won’t Believe

Ever wish you never needed to wash your car again?  As ridiculous as it may seem…someday in the not too distant future, you may be able to drive through a pothole mud puddle or your car may be strafed by a flock of Canadian Geese…yet your vehicle remains pristinely clean…all because of it’s high-tech paint job.

Paint that helps a car clean itself is just one of the many innovations happening in this arena. Driven by technological breakthroughs and increased concern for the environment, manufacturers are producing innovative new car coatings that last longer, keep the environment safer and look cooler.

and an expert in color, material and finish design, believes that car paint has advanced to the point where it’s basically colorful tech.

“Exterior paint is evolving into almost ‘smart paint…” Kirsten Keenan – Design Director, Trichromatic Studio

The bottom line will be to make driving even more fun while saving time and making a positive environmental impact.

Here are a few practical innovations coming in the world of auto paint finishes:

Scratch-Eliminating Car Paint –Coatings derived from chitin, a material found in crab shells that react to the sun’s ultraviolet light and stitch themselves back together when scratched, leaving no sign of the original damage.  Status: Still in development.

Beat-the-Heat Car Paint –heat-reflecting paint, which mixes traditional paint materials with potassium silicate, causing the paint to bounce UV rays off rather than absorbing them. This will give you relief from the heat even when the air-conditioning is off, says Keenan, which will help save money on gas.  Status: Available now – some markets.

Self-Cleaning Car Paint – Maybe “soil resistant” is a more accurate name since it aims to prevent your car from getting dirty in the first place.  This specialized car paint features a layer of microscopic “peaks” that make it very hard for water or dirt to cling to the surface. Aka “superhydrophobic” paint because it repels moisture just like the coating on a nonstick skillet. Status: Concept car trial runs in 2014, but still a few years away for production vehicles.

Environment-Friendly Car Paint – Waterborne paints have already been replacing solvent-based paints for several years.  Appealing to environment-conscious consumers…they have fewer toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Used to paint wheels & rims for years now…Powder Coatings are an enviro-friendly & affordable method that uses free-flowing powder instead of traditional paint. Status: Available now.

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Aftermarket Auto Parts vs OEM in Autobody Repair

CNN Investigation – Body Shops Say Insurance Companies Skimp on Safety

Excerpted transcript from Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN:

If you car is ever damaged in an accident and repaired by a major insurance company in this country, there are major federal and state lawsuits underway that you should probably know about.  Autobody shops across the United States…more than 500 of them…claim that some big insurance companies have long deliberately skimped when it comes to repairing damaged vehicles…all so the insurance companies can pad their profits.

The lawsuits allege it’s a scheme that can not only lead to rushed and minimal repairs, but repairs that can include using recycled, re-manufactured as one lawyer puts it and junk parts to fix your car.  Some Attorney’s General believe the alleged scheme may have another effect…you could be driving a very dangerous car.

CNN’s Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin reports… (Watch Video Above)

 

Consumer Reports – Aftermarket Car Replacement Parts

Want another trusted perspective?…like Consumer Reports?  New crash-test video dramatically illustrates what can happen when a cheap aftermarket part suffers even a low-speed impact.

Excerpted transcript from Consumer Reports:

Some aftermarket car repair parts are not up to original equipment standards.  Here (video above), a 2006-2009 Ford Fusion front bumper reinforcement does the job it was engineered to do.  It deforms and absorbs a 6.1 mph impact to protect the vehicle…then springs back into shape.  This part, normally concealed behind the car’s cometic bumper cover, is made of a relatively pliable plastic.  The non-Ford replacement part does nothing to protect the vehicle in a dramatic failure. (Watch Video Above)

 

Edmunds – Aftermarket Versus Manufacturer Car Parts – Is the Extra Cost Worth It?

When Should You Request OEM Parts?

When it comes to collision repairs, make sure you are getting OEM parts, since aftermarket body panels may not fit properly or have proper crumple zones for crash safety.

If you lease your car, there are also economic considerations. Since aftermarket parts decrease a vehicle’s book value, using them to repair your vehicle’s body may cost you part or all of your security deposit.

But here’s the rub: In 21 states and the District of Columbia, a body shop’s repair estimate does not have to indicate whether aftermarket parts will be used. You’ll often find that your insurance company will favor aftermarket parts because they are cheaper. If you request OEM parts, some insurance companies ask you to pay an additional fee. Check with your insurance provider beforehand, to see what parts they will cover.

Read More – Edmunds

 

GEICO Sued by Oregon Autobody Shop Owner

As an independent small business owner, we at Johnny’s Custom Autobody sympathize with real life David and Goliath stories.  Here’s one we understand extremely well.  Because we’re an independent autobody shop too….we face similar challenges every day with MULTIPLE insurance companies.  Though we seldom share our battles with you, we feel compelled to tell you about this one. Here are news excerpts from multiple sources on this case:

Oregon MSO Files Lawsuit Against GEICO – FenderBender

Leif’s Auto Collision Centers, a two-shop network (formerly 11 shops) in Oregon, has filed an antitrust lawsuit against GEICO for “cutting corners and making unsafe repairs.”

The court filings allege GEICO engaged in a conspiracy beginning no later than 2014 with a small group of auto body shops in Portland to provide incomplete repairs in return for a promise of consistent referrals.

“The purpose of these agreements is to maximize GEICO’s profits by causing its automobile policyholders to accept unsafe and incomplete repairs,” according to the lawsuit filed in United States District Court.

“As the lawsuit explains, this is a classic hub-and-spoke conspiracy where a big industry giant bullies its way to higher profits,” said Steven Olson, attorney for Leif’s. “Many Oregonians will be surprised to learn that they are driving unsafe cars as a direct result of GEICO’s backroom dealings with repair shops.”

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CNN’s Drew Griffin investigates claims that some insurance companies are skimping on repairing damaged vehicles to pad their profits. – Anderson Cooper 360

Class-Action Lawsuit Hits GEICO Over Unsafe Repairs – Autobody News

A lawsuit filed by Leif Hansen on behalf of GEICO customers claims the insurance giant has routinely violated the terms of its auto policies by refusing to pay for essential and critical vehicle repairs.

According to the lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, GEICO has a nationwide, longstanding policy and practice of refusing to pay for electronic vehicle scans, which help determine the safety and repair status of a vehicle. On average, these scans cost $100 and are required or recommended by nearly all major auto manufacturers to ensure auto repairs are safe and complete.

Consumer advocate and auto repair shop owner Leif Hansen is the lead plaintiff of the lawsuit, filed Dec. 13 in U.S. District Court. The lawsuit seeks damages for losses incurred by all current and former GEICO policyholders that have suffered collision losses in the past six years.

“This is about seeking justice for the millions who have been bullied into claim settlements. Many are left without appropriate compensation and may be unknowingly driving unsafe cars” ~ Leif Hansen

“As many consumers already know, airbags, steering, braking and accident avoidance systems can be compromised after a collision. Electronic scans play a critical role in ensuring that vehicles are safe to drive.”

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Ore. shop sues GEICO, claims DRP creating antitrust conditions… – RepairerDriven News

A Portland, Ore-area collision repairer sued GEICO Tuesday on Sherman Antitrust Act grounds, alleging the carrier is conspiring with its Auto Damage Xpress direct repair program auto body shops to fix prices and boycott the plaintiff.

Leif’s Auto Collision Centers v. GEICO is similar to litigation the auto body shop filed in 2014 against that insurer and many others as part of the multi-state litigation pitting dozens of shops nationwide against carriers on steering and antitrust grounds. Leif’s dropped many smaller carriers as defendants in 2015, but left GEICO and some of the other major players named in the case.

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Leif Hansen (businessman) – Wikipedia

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Avoiding Direct Repair Shops (DRPs) – 5 Warnings

Direct Repair Programs (DRPs) are constructed relationships that Insurance companies create with auto body repair shops. The bottom line is that the insurance companies usually send (or “steer” as it’s called in the industry) the participating DRP shops more insurance related business in exchange for agreeing to cut corners during the repair process…thus saving the insurance company money.  Sometimes called “Network shops” or “Select Service shops” …these participating repair shops are actually “graded” by the insurance company as to how fast and cost effective the repairs are done…with quality all too often taking a lower priority.  Insurance companies put in place many rules and regulations for body shops who are on their “list” and sometime force the shops to do things that they would not otherwise do.

Comical depiction of Insurance Company “Steering“…that may not turn out as funny in real life.

Here are 5 reasons you may want to consider avoiding DRP repair shops:

  1. They work directly for the Insurance Company, not you …and not necessarily for your best interests.
  2. If your vehicle is declared a Total Loss, the DRP shop be pressured by the Insurance Company to cheat you on the Actual Cash Value (ACV) settlement you are owed.
  3. Diminished Value you’re owed after repairs – DRP shops may be encourage not to inform you about it.
  4.  Repairing parts instead of Replacing them as they should have been…again, saving the Insurance Company money.
  5. Using Aftermarket/Imitation/Counterfeit or Junkyard Parts on your car…obviously, not to your benefit.

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Should You Go CPO? 5 Merits of Certified Pre-Owned

Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it’s about having a lot of options. ~ Chris Rock

If  you’re considering buying a new (or kinda new) vehicle…having more options and more money left over are always good things.  New or used…private seller or car dealer…and in recent years, something usually sold by new car dealers called “certified pre-owned” (CPO).  CPO can be considered as a compromise between new and used that most often has a better warranty (because it’s been thoroughly inspected) and low to modest mileage.


Here are some compelling arguments that a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle may be your best bet:

1. Thoroughly Inspected Vehicle

Imagine the feeling you get from seeing “As-Is” on a vehicle’s For Sale sign…or the complete set of “unknowns” that come with buying a car from a private seller. Your first instinct should be to take your prospective purchase to a trusted mechanic and have it thoroughly checked out…for a fee.  That’s what CPO effectively does for you in a more formal and convenient way.  Ford and General Motors have 170+ items on a checklist that technicians must complete before allowing pre-owned vehicle to be designated as CPO.

2. Warranty that’s Manufacturer-Backed

So you’re effectively paying a premium for a manufacturer-backed warranty. But like any kind of insurance…not all warranties are created equal. So buyers need to pay special attention to the warranty specifics. “Powertrain-limited warranties”… “bumper-to-bumper warranties” and even combinations of the two.

Powertrain warranties typically span longer periods, such as six years or 100,000 miles from the date the vehicle was purchased new. A bumper-to-bumper warranty may last for one year or cover 12,000 miles and could include a deductible of $50 to $100. When shopping for a CPO, buyers should be sure to inquire about the length of the warranty, the details regarding types of repairs that require paying a deductible, and the list of items not covered at all. Also, pay attention to whether the manufacturer has a fee to transfer a CPO warranty should you want to sell the car or truck before the warranty expires. (BMW, for example, charges $200 for the warranty to be transferred to a subsequent owner.)

3. CPO Is Less Money Than New

The most obvious reason why people consider CPO is money…and CPO is less money than a new vehicle. Typically, two-year-old CPO vehicles are 25 percent cheaper, and four year old CPOs are about 40 percent less expensive. But remember… CPO vehicles do carry a premium over their non-CPO used vehicles. So the question for buyers becomes: Do the additional benefits of buying a CPO justify the higher price?

Like to see a couple more reasons?

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