Hey everyone! I’m trying to fact check what I am being told by an autobody shop doing repairs on my 2018 Outback which was t-boned by a taxi driver running a red light back in February 2019. My auto bodyshop has told me some pretty questionable stuff which has led me to question the correctness of explanations I have been given with regards to the refinishing. My car is currently back in the shop for the third time since my accident for several deficiencies. After going through online forums, I thought I had enough knowledge to have a conversation with the manager of the body shop regarding some issues. So when I was pointing out some longer straight scratches in the finish right under where they replaced a window trim piece last time it was in, I added that because I can catch a nail on the scratch it's too deep to buff out. The reply I received was that it was fine to buff out because it really wasn't too deep. Do you know what I said. Nothing. I had nothing to say because I really didn't understand the ins and outs of this type of thing. And this is why I've joined and I'm posting. I know it's tough to offer up insight when you haven't seen the car but if anyone has time to read a little further and maybe give an opinion on if something sounds right and if deficiencies should be corrected the way they are proposing I would be so appreciative of your time.
The background is that my new car after being on road 6 months was in an accident. The car is black in colour (which seems to be of relevance in this saga), and was hit by a Taxi causing damage to drivers side passenger door, rear quarter panel and a bit of damage to drivers door. All in all it was close to $16,000 damage. We have public insurance up here and threshold to write off was not met. Bodywork was finished and painting completed around April 1st. Car went to a mechanic for suspension work, alignment and dynamic control calibration of steering. There were sensor errors that needed to be addressed. 1 was ABS. Other was 2 sensor errors for blind spot warning. It was at mechanic for 43 days, mainly parked outdoors in cold. During this time it snowed 3 or 4 times. On May 21 I was told my car was ready to pick up. I showed up to find there was a bumper clip missing, rear door on drivers side not aligned properly, window trims on drivers side of car were really dinged up compared to passenger side which i assume was because they had to be taken off and reinstalled, and there was an area within the rear trunk area (where I think something was welded) that was not painted. There were also tons and tons of brush marks on the hood of my car and we also found similar marks on the newly painted drivers side passenger door which apparently had been buffed a lot the day before we went to pick up car. Because of the unpainted spot in rear trunk area, they had to repaint much of what had been curing since April 1st. Repainting done and deficiencies apparently completed on June 7th.
Here are my concerns.
1. Brush marks on hood. Not part of the accident and not repainted. Came into conversation with auto body shop manager when she went on and on about how much buffing was required on my car and that she got all of the marks out except the brush mark on the hood. When I asked how they got there she told me I did it. All cars have them but only black cars show them. She showed them to me the day in May when I was first told car was ready to pick up. The car was outdoors at the time and took photos while there. She kept insisting that I made all of the marks. I'm 5 foot nothing and pretty weak. I'm definitely not able to press down hard on a snow brush and only had to brush snow with a brush a few times before accident - I used the "arm" method until I remembered to purchase a brush in January. It was only after I looked at photos I took and saw similar marks on the newly painted door that she backed down and told me they would just buff the marks out on the hood. I asked about losing top coat on the hood and she replied that buffing does not remove top coat. It just moves it around. Is this true when we are speaking about the factory finish top coat? Or even the non fully cured topcoat on my newly painted doors? At the time I didn't know enough to feel the scratches to see how deep they were. Should I be concerned about the finish on the hood now being too thin? Is there a way to tell if it's too thin now?
2. After the repainting done at the start of June, I was stressed about driving a car that had not had time to cure at all. It's an insurance claim and I asked how we would possibly sort out dings and scratches and marks - how can we tell what would not have been there had the repainting in June not been necessary? She replied that the top coat goes on at maximum strength and the curing is only off-gassing. My understanding of curing is it is a chemical process and strength increases over time. Can someone please comment on this?
3. I found scratches on the window trim that look like its from being buffed. I recall seeing in someones post on this sight that someone said that he does not use tape when he buffs his own car but he would if he was working on someone else's. Is it normal for trim to be protected when being buffed? I asked the auto body shop to replace the damaged trim pieces. They said that there's not a problem and they are going to polish these marks out. Should I be concerned about this? Do I have to worry about a protective finish being removed by the polishing?
4. I mentioned early about scratches deep enough to catch a nail in the finish of my car where repairs done. Autobody shop has told me it is fine to buff out as they were not really deep. How does one know if a scratch is too deep to buff. And if a scratch gets buffed out when it shouldn't, what is the consequence? How can one tell after the fact?
5. Ghosting. I don't know what this is really called but as the weather here got hot and the second paint job started to cure, I started seeing hazy opaque spots start to come out. Several. At first I thought it was buffing compound that I didn't notice at first but it is not. Autobody shop has told me that it's perfectly normal for these hazy spots to occur when paint cures. Again, it's because my car is black I see them. I was told it was from dust and impurities from when they painted. Not a big deal, they said they would just polish them out. Do all cars get these spots when curing? If not, what is it? What is the correct way to deal with it?
6. Buffing mark, buffing marks and buffing marks. Will I always have a portion of my car be swirly twirly in bright light? When I tell the autobody shop that my expectation is that I have the same finish as pre accident (only 6 months on road and still new car beautiful), they start telling me how all black cars are covered in marks. Mine was not. As can be seen on the undamaged passenger side of vehicle. Always a touchless car wash, always parked way in the middle of nowhere in order to avoid door dings. Is there any way they can get rid of these buffing marks?
For anyone who has stuck with me this long, I thank you. I am going to try and attach photos of the ghosting and an example of scratched trim. Don't hate me though, I downloaded an app to my phone so I could try to decrease photo size but it don't think it worked. I have no personal computer so I'm trying to make due with what I have.
Any insight or observations that you would care to share would be so appreciated. I am grateful.
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Ohhhh....boy.....what a mess..... A new black car, literally a rolling computer like a Subie, and what sounds like a pretty "hack" or at least sloppy collision shop....... Were you represented by an attorney on this? It doesn't matter what that totaled "threshold" was an attorney should have been going after the greatly diminished value of your vehicle. Your Carfax is going to be a disaster especially since those reports are now "enhanced" with specific information about damages and severity.
A lot more informed people will comment about your specific problems on but I'll just start with the overall. First, I myself am fresh form having 3, yes, 3 accidents within 2 months at the end of 2018. Not one of them was my fault and I had an attorney settle 2 of them and I settled 1 myself. In my first accident I considered my SUV totaled. I was fought about this and between my attorney and my own vigilance I did get replacement instead. About 20 days later, I'm hit (not in the vehicle at the time) in my "new" vehicle in a driveway. Lady did not want to report it so she just cashed out with me. I knew it was something that I could do, no problem......3 hours later, WHAM, I'm hit at a light from behind. Not as bad but I was given a bunch of bs about requesting OEM parts, which again the attorney and I had to fight for.... So roughly 8 months of crap back and forth, but I am "whole" again.
First, let's start with the color black (actually not even a color, it's the absence of color). It will always show every single defect, even factories have problems with it, and dealers even crap it up when prepping. That said let us look at your list here....
1. The brush marks....not part of the accident although they sounded like they happened at the shop. Compounding and buffing always reduce coating thickness. How much? You could have a competent shop use a film gauge on your car and yes it would read the OEM thickness comparing to where they have done their scratch removal. Other guys on here are much more knowledgeable on that subject.
2. In most modern collision shops you will find heated booths. The heat speeds up the chemical curing which is indeed cross linking your coating for protection. My friend that runs a local body shop usually says no power washing for 30 days and no waxing (regular waxes, non sealing glaze okay) for 60 days. Other than that...yea, it's just gassing off.
3.They need to replace the trim they damaged.....
4.If I can catch a fingernail in the clearcoat (hopefully no "color" damage in that scratch) I want more clear coat put on there. Attempting to take out a scratch that deep is going to compromise the thickness of the clear coat.
5. Ha, ha..... bs in pure form here. Dust and impurities??? No, more like crappy cut and buff with heavy use of a machine glaze. Glaze is filling in the micro irregularities in the clear and finally just evaporate leaving a "haze" look to the areas. Is it a big deal, probably not as long as they have not "thinned" those areas to much.
6.No you should not have to be stuck with "holograhic" scratches. However, it doesn't sound like this shop will be skilled enough to get them evened out. You are probably going to need a "paint correction specialist" or high end detailer. I know a few of these guys locally and they can spend 8 to 20 hours correcting all the swirlies in black car.
I am sure the other guys will comment on this... I feel your pain.....seems like you have to fight/battle for everything when it comes to accidents now....
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Location: OREGON COAST
^^^ I've got to go take a nap after reading all this. might be time to talk to a lawyer, just that word can change their attitude. but it looks like the shop isn't capable of correcting the problems. you might take it to some other shops and see what they have to say.
they say my name is Jay
Might come back later with some comments.
I have to agree, Just a tad to much owner not knowing what is right and wrong.
To say you took your car to the wrong place is and understatement.
The customer is always right!
Keep it to the facts what still wrong?? whats is still damaged??? what still needs to be fixed from the accident and what the shop did to it that is wrong! then what they didn't do!
Photo document everything! accept NO explanations except in writing! ONLY accept written documentations.
I would be climbing your insurance adjusters **** make him make it right and include a lawyer when you do !
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glad to see ya posted here AND got the pics loaded,peggy. great advise from these guys- quite a few who have dealt with having to repair this type of work.
Thank you again to TomSteve for sending a link to autobody101.com my way. Very grateful.
To BadSix and NFT5 - Yes, very wordy! I tried to include everything I could recall. I didn't know what would be relevant and what wasn't. And I also needed to vent, just a wee bit. Therapy!
DarrylK - 3 accidents in 2 months! I would lose my mind!! Lucky you could sue. We have public insurance here - no choice at all for insurance. After an accident where the vehicle is not drivable, vehicle towed to insurance compound where it is assessed. Car gets towed to auto body shop of car owners choice. Further assessment is done. If they find other work required once they start repairs, they must get permission from insurance company to do the extra work. I think the point is to keep premiums reasonable. There are a lot of problems and gaps though. For example, my car has just over $15,000 in damage, not enough to write-off. BUT, technically it cost more than the $15,000 to get it where it is now. For example, when my car went to mechanic for suspension, alignment and dynamic control calibration of steering, there was an error message for 2 blind spot sensors.It took over 2 weeks for them to resolve. I'm sure it sat untouched most of the time but my understanding is they ordered 2 new sensors, still didn't work, then they started to inspect wiring trying to track down problem. Insurance allows for expense of 2 sensors and some predetermined $$ to install. Everything on top of that is not included in the damage tally. If they looked at the real cost to fix, my car would be a write off. But on their spreadsheet, it's not. And because I can't sue under this insurance, guess who probably lost between $8,0000 and $10,000 that day. Me. No way for me to recoup lost value. If I sell, I take a huge loss. And the other thing is, the system really almost encourages sloppy work and short cuts. Because body shops can't get paid for the real time put in. So why protect the trim before you buff if the labor to do so will cost too much. Every time I show up because the doors are still not aligned properly or there are deep scratches or the paint is hazing up, the auto body shop is losing money. So they are dismiss concerns and find the cheapest and easiest solutions. And I think they rush through these things to try and maximize how much they make and hope car owners don't notice sloppy work.
1. Anyways, I'm interested in what you mentioned about a film guage and I will definitely call around to see if I can find a local shop. It sounds like a very good idea. I'm definitely worried about where they buffed the deep scratches as well as the hood.
2. I don't know if the auto body shop has a heated booth as it doesn't say on the website (and I only just found out that heated booths exist so I hadn't asked). What you said about what your friend who owns a shop said about not waxing and just off-gassing is what I was told. But, she (General Manager of shop) also went on and on about how much buffing my car needed because every time someone touched it marks were left. Which makes it should like the clear coat maybe wasn't hardened yet. I think I will ask about this. At the time of my accident, there was a huge backlog. Icy roads and high snowbanks interfering with visibility. Even if shop has a heated booth, I wonder if they were not giving cars the extra time in the booth required. Just so they could process them faster and move onto the next one.
3. I will look at trim when I pick up car. I was told they were going to polish scratches. I did ask for it to be replaced. What is wrong with polishing scratches out? Does it not last or is a protective layer lost? IF they polished but tell me they replaced, would I be able to tell?
4. As for deep scratches, I am 100% sure they were buffed as auto body shop said it was perfectly fine to do. Hopefully the film guage will give me answers. Curious, what should they have done. I'm assuming add more clear coat. Can they add just to a spot or would it be the entire area?
5. You lost me with terms like cut and buff and machine glaze. It sounds like you are saying that there is a glaze on top of the clear, like another step? And if they use too much glaze then it leaves a haze when evaporating? So the haze is really on top of the clear and not the clear itself? Am I in the ballpark?
6. I was quite concerned about the buffing swirls but you and TomSteve have really pointed out the obvious. Of course these can be removed. But like I mentioned above, auto body shops are not paid to do their best work up here. It will be another bone of contention.
Thanks for the sympathy and your time, DarrylK!
Doright - I think you gave me some great advice when you said get everything in writing. I have been stressing over some of the things I've been told and I should not be afraid to ask for it in writing. You bet it's going to be awkward. They tell me it's okay to polish scratches they made on window trims instead of replacing, or it's okay to buff deep scratches, or buffing removes no clear coat - just moves it around. Or, that my door locks are not responding to the fob inconsistently because of the accident, but because pushing the fob a second or third time when it doesn't respond only confuses the car. That I just need to give it some time. Or after giving me wrong info on the operation of blind spot sensors/cross traffic alert they suggested I read up on it in the manual (which is valid - and it's how I found out what the told me was incorrect), but that I should grab a big glass of wine first because it's really complicated. I could go on and on about statements I would like them to put in writing but this could really get wordy.
My biggest concerns?
1. The appearance of haze on my paint job about 6 weeks after painting. Photos in my post.
2. They have been buffing and buffing and buffing. Concerned about loss of topcoat and the fact that deep and shallow scratches that can catch a nail are going to be buffed out.
3. Scratches on window trim that they are proposing to polish out instead of replacing trim.
4. Car paint job looks a mess with all of the swirls from buffing. If they tell me they can't be removed (which they already have - part of the black cars show everything so live with it speech), I would like to be able to direct them in what they could do to rectify.
There are more defects than these. I'm trying to keep this paint related.
Thank you again for replying to my post.
Observations from your photos. Suggest you take the car to another, reputable, shop and have them verify.
From where i sit that's a clear coat join that's been buffed back too far. At a minimum quarter needs to be re-cleared and extended all the way over the cant rail.
Scratches in fresh paint that you can catch your nail in? Insist it be re-done.
As for reducing depth of clear, that's a hard one. Only the guy who painted it knows how much clear he put on and, therefore, how much can be taken off, safely. If they were new panels then you could have the paint thickness measured and that should give you a fairly good idea, but again, may be inconclusive since you can't measure individual layers.
Never seen a buff that moves backwards and forwards, to make straight scratches. They're from sandpaper. Replace trim.
What a load of bs. Of course black cars can be buffed and polished to a swirl free finish. Just takes the right equipment and knowledge. Admittedly not everyone can do it but swirls are unacceptable. If they can't do it, find someone who can, at their expense.
Overall, the best solution I can think of would be to re-clear the whole repair and replace that trim.
Surely you can involve your insurance company in this? You shouldn't have to to be doing all this running around. If the repair is not acceptable it's their responsibility to make sure that it is.
Okay, so you mentioned this....
"5. You lost me with terms like cut and buff and machine glaze. It sounds like you are saying that there is a glaze on top of the clear, like another step? And if they use too much glaze then it leaves a haze when evaporating? So the haze is really on top of the clear and not the clear itself? Am I in the ballpark?"
When a car like this is repaired the paint system is done with primers, color coats, and clear coats. The primer is built up and sanded level. The color is applied and finally several coats of clear are shot over that. Spraying is over, heat turned on in the booth, cool down time and next.....The cut and buff.... This entails sanding with fine sandpaper ranging from maybe 800 grit up through possibly 2000 grit. That is the "cut." Next begins the "buff" which begins with compounding on a rotary buffer. These are liquid compounds not unlike the grit ranges in sandpaper. They work their way up into apply finer polishing compounds. If done properly all of the scratches swirls, and defects should be gone at this point. Hand back car to happy customer. Now, if the guy that is doing that process is not very talented he can do that process in a "slap dash" kind of method, get to the end of the polishing and still be seeing a lot of scratching/defects in the clear. He grabs a bottle of machine polishing and can literally "fill in" those micro defects. Clear might look pretty great....uhhhhh....well, at least until that machine glaze evaporates and boom....hazy, duller, coating is has now appeared. Now as NFT5 has pointed out those areas look like they have had a lot of hard buffing on them, like he tried to get everything out, threw in the towel on that, and then just used the machine glaze. And, I agree I think those areas are probably going to need more clear now.
So I guess the bottom line here is your insurance system is just awful when it comes to consumer's rights. Here in the US it's just the opposite.....even our insurance companies advertise they will make you "whole" again, you know, like the accident never happened. I don't really agree with that as no one seems to own a "time machine" around here.
Just keep fighting....don't disappear....the squeaky wheel does indeed get the grease.....
I think I'd get a couple of magnetic signs made that said... LOOK AT THIS HORRIBLE BODY AND PAINT REPAIR DONE BY_________________. Park it across the street from them....call your local TV station for the "funny/tragic" story of the week...... Squeaky wheel in search of grease......
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