Cars Pile Up At Wrecker Lots, Body Shops
Posted January 31, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — Over the past week, authorities have responded to accident after accident after accident. The highway patrol alone has seen 800 fender benders since last Tuesday. Mother nature has kept towing companies busy.
Wrecker lot owner Andy Munday says he was turning calls down left and right because his drivers just could not get to all the wrecks being called in.
Many cars are still sitting in wrecker lots. Ace Towing just moved its first car to an auto body repair shop Tuesday.
"The body shops have not been open," Munday says. "By the same token, a lot of towing companies can't get into the storage lots, like this, to move the cars to the auto body shops because of the ice and the large amount of snow."
Once a car does make it to the body shop, be prepared to wait. At the College Paint and Body Shop, it is taking two days longer for minor repairs and an extra two weeks for major fixes.
"We're looking at delays because of getting parts because of the weather," says mechanic James Green.
Green says insurance companies are also responsible for some delays.
"I can understand not being able to be out in a timely fashion to look at a vehicle, as far as writing an estimate on it," Green says. "We've got one sitting here now -- that vehicle's been here going on two to three weeks, the insurance company hasn't looked at it yet."
To help speed things up, call an insurance agent as soon as you are in an accident. Some insurance companies will also allow you to skip the estimate process by taking your car to a repair shop they recommend. If you decide not to do that, you should get at least two estimates before making any repairs.
A new law went into effect this year that requires repair shops to give customers a written estimate if a repair is more than $350.
Repair shops must notify customers again if the repair exceeds that estimate by more than 10 percent.
Mechanics also will not be able to hold the car during a dispute if customers pay the estimate plus the ten percent.
Customers can also request old parts back.