Are Your Tires Aligned? 6 Signs That You Need a Wheel Alignment Service

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

When you think about car repairs, you may picture visible damage, like dents, first. However, much of the damage that your vehicle sustains over the course of its life isn’t visible from the average driver’s perspective.

One of the most common invisible vehicle issues is wheel misalignment. In this blog, we discuss how vehicle misalignment can occur and six signs that your car is out of alignment.

Causes of Misalignment

Alignment occurs whenever the orientation of your wheels to the body of your car changes, even slightly. This change may consist of a single tire pointing outward instead of straight ahead or of more complex directional changes such as a tire leaning in toward the body at the top.

Regardless of misalignment type, the causes are generally the same. Common causes of misalignment include:

  • Collisions, including minor accidents
  • Driving over potholes or curbs
  • Tension caused by wear and tear on tires over time

Most experts recommend including alignment checks in your regular vehicle maintenance routine. Check your user manual to determine how often you should have your alignment checked.

Symptoms of Alignment Issues

In most cases, you won’t be able to tell your car is out of alignment just by looking. However, you may notice one of the following other signs.

1. Crooked Steering Wheel

In a properly aligned car, the position of the steering wheel corresponds exactly to the front tires’ direction. If your tires are out of alignment, you may notice that you have to turn your steering wheel slightly to drive in a straight line.

2. Drifting to One Side

Misalignment can affect vehicle handling. When your car is misaligned, it may drift in a particular direction. To test if your car is drifting, drive on a long straightaway and let go of the wheel for a moment. An aligned car should continue forward, but a misaligned vehicle may begin to lean to one side or the other.

3. Pulling to One Side

In extreme cases, your car may pull rather than drift. If it feels like you have to exert force to keep your steering wheel straight, or your car suddenly switches directions when you don’t hold tightly to the wheel, the vehicle is most likely out of alignment.

4. Squealing Tires

Sometimes, misalignment causes tires to touch the inside of the wheel well, causing a squealing noise. If you notice these types of sounds during turns, your tires may be tilted out of alignment.

5. Uneven Wear on Tires

Because misalignment puts strain on your wheels, it often results in uneven tire wear. If you suspect misalignment, look at your tires. You may notice more wear on the inside of the tire than on the outside, or vice versa.

Over time, worn-out tires can damage the quality of your handling overall. You may even notice vibrations or shaking in your steering wheel due to extreme uneven tire wear.

6. Unusual Front-End Noises

In addition to squealing noises, misaligned tires that touch the frame create friction that may cause other noises. To check for these sounds, drive slowly in a safe area and have someone stand outside and listen for scraping, grinding, or whining noises coming from the front of your vehicle.

 

If you recently encountered any of the common causes of misalignment or you notice any combination of these signs, have your alignment checked.

Do you think your car may be out of alignment? Don’t wait to address the problem. Untreated misalignment can lead to other vehicle issues. Learn more about issues related to alignment problems on Central Body Company Inc.’s wheel alignment services page.

Got Dents? 5 Reasons to Have Car Dents Repaired Professionally

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

Scrapes, dents, and dings on your car can occur for a number of reasons. Whether the damage happened in a collision or a close encounter with a railing, you may notice the warping or discoloration every time you look at your car.

A professional can quickly fix most dents and similar auto body damage. But you may wonder if the repairs are necessary. What happens if you leave these dents unaddressed?

In this blog, we list five of the reasons it’s important to have an auto body professional evaluate and repair the damage to your car, no matter how small the dent appears.

1. Cosmetic Damage Decreases Vehicle Value

If you have ever purchased a used car, you know that any visible damage affects the overall price. Dents can factor into a professional appraisal of your car’s value almost as much as mileage and year.

Even small amounts of damage can ensure that you’re stuck with your second-choice trade-in car or a
smaller payout for resale of the vehicle in the future.

2. Dents Increase the Risk of Rust Development

Automotive paint does more than make your car look attractive; it also helps prevent rust development. Dents and scrapes create small vulnerabilities in your vehicle’s paint job that expose the underlying materials.

Run your fingertip over the damage on your car. If you can feel the damage and see it, those dings could lead to rusting.

3. Impact Incidents Can Alter Alignment

After an impact incident, whether you collide with another car or a baseball hits your door, you rush to look for damage. A dent may not seem too bad, but not all impact damage is visible. In fact, many automotive impact incidents alter the frame or wheel alignment.

This misalignment can change the handling of your car and, in extreme cases, make the vehicle unsafe to drive.

4. Superficial Damage Can Hide Serious Issues

In addition to unseen alignment issues, dents can distract from other forms of serious auto body damage. For example, when a plastic bumper becomes damaged, the deformation of the bumper may hide a bent or crumpled frame.

Like alignment issues, these types of damage can cause serious problems if not identified and addressed when they occur.

5. Timely Repairs Minimize Overall Damage and Costs

Generally when it comes to car repairs, the sooner you can have the work done the better. This principle holds true for scrapes and dings just as much as strange engine block noises. When your car sustains a new dent, the damage is localized and probably shallow.

Over time, however, the elements can expand the dent. Even if you don’t experience rusting, the dent may be bigger, deeper, or more difficult to fix if you wait to bring your car in for repairs.

If you live in an extreme climate, the risk of greater damage the longer you wait is higher. Vehicle owners who live in humid climates, in areas with high temperatures, or near large bodies of saltwater should take particular care, especially if they do not store their vehicle in a car port or garage.

 

When you notice a new dent, don’t wait for the damage to affect the way you operate or enjoy your car.

If you need auto body work after a serious accident or a fender bender, trust the team at Central Body Company, Inc. We offer solutions for most forms of body damage. Our facilities include state-of-the-art painting equipment to repair cosmetic damage and revitalize your car’s appearance as well as skilled technicians who can restore body damage that could alter your car’s handling.

Baby Your Bumper: 4 Tips to Avoid Bumper Damage

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

Your car bumper does more than complete your vehicle’s overall look and aesthetic. When installed correctly, your bumper should absorb shock and minimize damage to the rest of your car. During a low-speed collision, your bumper will protect your fuel, trunk, and exhaust system, saving you thousands of dollars in repairs.

But your bumper isn’t invincible.

Every dent, scratch, and ding weakens your bumper’s performance. When that fender bender or hit-and-run does occur, your bumper may lack the strength to withstand the impact.

While some damage may be inevitable, you can take precautionary steps that baby your bumper. The following tips can help you avoid potentially damaging situations while you navigate busy streets and parking lots.
1. Look for Empty Areas and Corner Spaces

A majority of bumper damage occurs when the car isn’t moving. Just because you’ve parked your car and left for the day doesn’t mean your vehicle will remain in the same shape you left it. Distracted drivers and poor visibility make parking lots a prime environment for dents and scratches.

For maximum protection, park as far away from other vehicles as you can. Although you may have to walk a few minutes more, fewer drivers will be willing to travel the same distance, so you can rest easy knowing that your vehicle is safe.

If the parking lot looks fairly full, try to pull into a space at the end of a row where the curb, plantings, or island provide some protection.

2. Learn to Parallel Park

When you want to avoid bumper damage, parallel parking may seem counterintuitive. If you reverse a few inches too far, you’ll undoubtedly hear that telltale crunch of your bumper crumbling. And if you pull too far forward, you can assume that the vehicle in front of you will leave its mark as well.

But surveys show that most drivers hate parallel parking, and nearly 15% of them will refuse to parallel park at all. Almost 47% of drivers would rather walk farther distances in an effort to avoid parallel parking.

With almost half of drivers avoiding parallel parking spaces, you significantly reduce your chances of suffering damage when you parallel park. Only the brave few will park near your vehicle, and these individuals are likely just as worried about bumper damage as you, so they’ll give you plenty of space if they can.

3. Avoid Cart Return Areas

When you shop for groceries or run errands near a mall, you may want to load and unload your newly purchased items as quickly as possible. If you park near a cart return, you only have to travel a few feet to drop off your cart and be on your way.

But shopping carts can inflict a great deal of damage, especially when careless shoppers are involved. Not everyone will take the time to carefully place their cart in the return slot, and many will simply shove the cart in that general direction and ignore the smashing results.

To save your bumper, choose spaces further away from cart returns, and try to find a place to park uphill. Many supermarket parking lots have a slight slope, and gravity can pull loose shopping carts toward your vehicle.

4. Invest in a Rear Camera

Your side and rearview mirrors can help you spot larger objects behind your vehicle. With a quick glance, you know if a tree, street lamp, or car blocks your path, and you can maneuver your car to avoid them.

But your mirrors don’t show you everything, and smaller objects (such as a child, pet, or toy) may find their way behind your vehicle without your knowledge. If you don’t check and double-check the back of your vehicle, you may accidentally run over a large curb, deep pothole, or sports bike.

A rear camera can give you the extra visibility you need to reverse your car with confidence. In fact, studies estimate that back-up cameras have helped approximately 57% of drivers avoid accidents and subsequent bumper damage to their vehicle.

Talk to a Mechanic About a Replacement Bumper

When you follow these tips, you can avoid a number of dents and scratches in your bumper. However, vandalism, accidents, and extreme weather can still leave your bumper in poor condition. If your bumper looks a little a little worse for wear, stop by your mechanic for repairs and replacement.

No Garage? Protect Your Outdoor Vehicle From Damage

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

Most cars do best when properly stored in a garage. With the safety of a roof overhead and protective walls all around, your car won’t chip or fade from the elements. Your garage can even protect against extreme temperatures, saving your engine from a cold start in the morning.

But not everyone enjoys the luxury of a covered garage.

More often than not, many car owners have to park their car on the street or in a parking lot close to their home. Cars parked outdoors will continue to function, but you can bet that your car will look a little worse for w ear after a few days, weeks, or months of exposure.

If you want to keep your car in pristine condition without the aid of a garage, you’ll want to take steps to avoid the following types of damage.

Sun Damage

When you first buy your car, your new vehicle may look stunning in the sunshine. But though full light may bring out the colors for a few days, direct exposure will lead to fading, peeling, and blistering. As UV rays penetrate your paint, the metal finish will oxidize, leaving your car with unsightly sun spots.

Solution: Wash and Wax Frequently

Dirt and grime can eat away at your car and accelerate the sun’s oxidation process. You’ll want to wash your car regularly with a gentle automotive cleaner (not your ordinary dish soap). Wipe stubborn stains with a soft cotton mitt so you don’t scratch the finish, and dry your vehicle by hand with a cotton rag. Do not let your car air dry, as the minerals in the water can leave behind spots and worsen the damage.

Once you’ve finished cleaning your car from top to bottom, purchase a high-quality car wax that features ultraviolet radiation protection. For extra protection, you can layer your wax coats, though you’ll want to give each coat time to cure before applying another coat.

Hail Damage

Omaha, Nebraska can see some intense hail storms during the year. Some storms can drop golf-ball-sized pieces strong enough to leave sizeable dents and divots in your hood and roof. Particularly large dents in the car’s steel will need a professional mechanic to hammer out.

Solution: Cover With Thick Blankets

If a hail storm is on its way and you don’t have access to a sheltering garage, carport, or tree, you can raid your linen closet for as many thick blankets, towels, and comforters as you can find. Layer the top of your car as much as possible; the more cushion you have over your car, the better. Tie down your blankets with a sturdy rope or two, as heavy winds can pick up quickly and blow away all your hard work.

Keep in mind that hail storms present just as much risk to you as to your vehicle. If possible, try to protect your car in advance of the storm. Do not attempt to cushion your car in the middle of a hail storm.

Tree and Pollen Damage

On a hot day or during stormy weather, you may try to avoid the worst of the damage by parking your car under a tree. The leafy canopy provides plenty of shade for your vehicle, and the thicker tree branches block bigger hailstones from hitting your car.

But even trees can damage your car if you don’t exercise care. Tree sap can etch your car’s clear coat of paint, resulting in discoloration and stains. Tree pollen also contains acids that can trigger oxidation, eating away at your car’s exterior.

Solution: Invest in a Car Cover

If you plan to leave your car outdoors for any extended period of time, consider investing in a properly fitted car cover. The right car cover can shield your car from sun and hail damage as well as protect it against any dust, dirt, pollen, and debris that may take a toll on your car’s exterior.

Don’t Forget Your Trip to the Mechanic

When you follow the above steps and precautions, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of damage to your vehicle. Unfortunately, even your best efforts might not be enough to completely prevent scratches, chips, and fading. If you’ve noticed your car looking old beyond its years, bring it into your local auto body mechanic for repairs and custom paint work.

3 Ways Your Car Can Get Damaged Without Getting in A Wreck

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that drivers spend an average of 46 minutes behind the wheel every day. And according to Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services, one car crash occurs every 17 minutes in our state. So even though you probably don’t spend too much time driving daily, there is a small chance you could be involved in an accident while in a vehicle.

When you ponder the possibility of a car accident, you probably think of vehicle-to-vehicle collisions first. But your car can get damaged by something other than another driver’s car. Peruse our list of three other common sources of auto body damage.

  1. Wildlife

Wildlife sometimes walks across Nebraska’s highways and country roads. Deer in particular become active in October and November, so drivers should take extra caution during those months.

Animal-vehicle collisions can be dangerous to both the animals and the car’s passengers. In addition to physical injuries, the impact may severely dent the doors or panels. If the animal crashes into the windshield, the glass will likely crack or even shatter. The Insurance Information Institute reports that the average car repair costs after an animal collision are $2,000.

You can take the following steps to avoid an animal-vehicle collision:

  • Drive slower in areas with animal crossing signs, especially during dawn, dusk, or nighttime hours.
  • Constantly scan the road ahead when you drive in rural areas.
  • If you spot a deer, honk your horn and flash your lights to scare away the animal.
  • Expect to see other deer if you spot one because they travel in groups.
  • Avoid making extreme turns if you cannot stop in time. Instead, brake until the last moment before impact to reduce the chances that the animal will hit your front windshield.

Also remember to exercise typical precautions at all times, such as wearing your seat belt, keeping your windshield clean, and driving sober.

One last precaution to take: make sure you have comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance. That coverage type will pay for damages to your vehicle if you’re involved in an animal-car collision.

  1. Shopping Carts

Next time you go grocery shopping, look for signage that warns you about shopping cart damage to your vehicle. You probably dismiss those cautionary words as you head in to the store, but you should break this habit. Those signs are one way the store protects itself from liability if a cart hits your car and dings the body.

Although the probability of shopping cart damage is small, it could cost you big time. If the cart hits your car at a strange angle or a high speed, it could create a huge dent in a door or a panel. Unless a store employee caused the damage, the store will likely refuse to pay for the repairs. Your collision insurance may pay for it, but your premium may go up after you make the claim.

Luckily for drivers everywhere, shopping cart auto body dings are easy to avoid. Park your car away from loose carts, or move free carts into corrals before you head in to shop. Also, be kind to other drivers and put away your own cart.

  1. Large Potholes

Do you have to swerve around the same pothole every day on your way to work? That little annoyance can be more than frustrating. If the pothole is large enough, it could do serious damage to your car. Obviously you should try to steer clear of potholes as much as possible-but good judgment matters too. Don’t avoid a pothole and get into a wreck instead.

Why can potholes do so much damage? When you drive over a pothole, the weight in your car becomes unevenly distributed over the tires. This uneven weight distribution amplifies the force that hits your car when you exit the pothole. The result can be dents, bends, or mechanical problems.

Specifically, if you drive over a nasty pothole, your car might experience the following problems:

  • Bent tire rims, especially if you have aluminum rims
  • Bulging tires
  • Holes in the car’s undercarriage
  • Misaligned steering
  • Scratches or dents on the bumper
  • Wear on shocks, struts, or the engine

Sometimes pothole damage creates noticeable symptoms. You might hear unusual noises or feel strange vibrations. You could discover new leaks under your car or realize your tires don’t look uniform anymore. These symptoms may not appear immediately, so examine your car whenever you drive over a pothole.

Ideally, you can avoid most pothole problems with a few basic steps. Keep your tires properly inflated, maintain a safe following distance, and drive slower in wet weather.

Auto body damage and car engine problems can be expensive to fix, but as the information above shows, those problems are easy to avoid. If your car does get hurt despite your best efforts, bring it to Central Body Company for expert repairs.

CENTRAL BODY COMPANY INC.
4682 Leavenworth, Omaha, NE 68106
Phone: (402) 551-3177
Fax: (402) 551-1642

CENTRAL BODY COMPANY INC.
1401 S 16th Street, Council Bluffs, IA 51501
Phone: (712) 352-0099

Omaha Location

Council Bluffs Location