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CONSUMER ALERT

Are you getting risky vehicle repairs?

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Car expert Matt Radman showed 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper some repairs he described as faulty. (Source: 3TV) Car expert Matt Radman showed 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper some repairs he described as faulty. (Source: 3TV)
Another faulty repair Radman showed 3 On Your Side. (Source: 3TV) Another faulty repair Radman showed 3 On Your Side. (Source: 3TV)
According to the lawsuit, many insurance companies push repair shops to use aftermarket or substandard parts to save money. (Source: 3TV) According to the lawsuit, many insurance companies push repair shops to use aftermarket or substandard parts to save money. (Source: 3TV)
Radman often sees vehicles that have already been 'fixed.' Radman often sees vehicles that have already been 'fixed.'
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Inside Coach Works Auto Body in Mesa, Matt Radman is hard at work fixing cars, vehicles that have already been fixed by somebody else at another shop.

During our visit, he showed 3 On Your Side what he described as one faulty repair job after another.

Some of those "fixes," he said, are putting drivers at risk. 

"We actually found open clips and open-ended wires which will ultimately cause a fire," he explained.

Radman says after a wreck, a car often goes to an insurance-preferred repair shop and then goes back on the road. While it might look fine to the untrained eye, there can be problems under the hood that drivers won't know about until the next accident.

"The customer was rather upset," he said of one such repair. "He’s taken this vehicle back to the shop five times."

So how often does Radman see this issue at his shop?

"Sadly multiple times every month," he said.

Coach Works is not named but is part of a lawsuit against many of the big insurance companies alleging "price fixing" and the use of "substandard or dangerous replacement parts."

You might not know this, but when your car is repaired, the replacement parts are not necessarily new or OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts. They can be salvaged or recycled from other vehicles.

According to Radman, a lot of those replacement parts are "bumpers, lights, reinforcement bars."

As a consumer, you have every right to have your car repaired at any collision center that you want. Your insurance company, however, might steer you to what they refer to as their preferred shops. Why do they do that? Well, some in the industry say it's to save the companies money.

According to the complaint, one Arizona company reported getting a warning from an insurance company that the shop "was not using enough aftermarket parts."

We asked Radman why they would do this.

"It’s really to just save the bottom dollar and not put the customer's interest first," he answered.

Here's why you should care. Radman says salvaged parts could make your car less safe. 

"When you get into an accident, that impact distributes the forces in and around the cab of the vehicle," he explained. "When you have any parts that are not designed properly, that energy transfers more into the cab of the vehicle, consequentially affecting the driver more."

What do some of the larger insurance companies have to say about all of this? 

State Farm is named in the lawsuit and denies the claims.

"These accusations are not in line with the State Farm mission to serve the needs of its customers," according to the company.

Geico, which is also named in the complaint, sent a statement to 3 On Your Side.

"The parts used to repair vehicles may include new original equipment parts, certified non-original equipment parts or recycled parts depending on the vehicle being repaired and the availability of parts."

Radman says the next time you're in a wreck, make sure you do your homework before hiring a repair shop.

"Every shop is different, and it's based on the customer’s involvement," he said. "They really need to ask the questions. Are you independent? Do you have any contracts directly with any of these shops? What is your policy in repairing a vehicle?"

Additional information regarding this 3 On Your Side report

Emailed statement from State Farm

"These accusations are not in line with the State Farm mission to serve the needs of its customers, and our long, proud history of achievements in advancing vehicle safety.  Our customers choose where their vehicles are going to be repaired. We provide information about our Select Service program while at the same time making it clear they can select which shop will do the work.   A vibrant, profitable auto collision repair industry is in the interest of State Farm. At the same time, we are advocates on behalf of our customers for reasonable repair costs. We believe repairer profitability and quality auto repairs that are reasonably priced can both be achieved."

Angela Thorpe

Media Relations/Spokesperson | AZ, CO, ID, MT, UT, Spokane/Tri-Cities WA & WY |

Emailed statement from Geico

"In answer to your inquiry earlier today, we do have an obligation to pay for repairs that return damaged automobiles to their pre-accident condition and we believe we fulfill that obligation with the estimates we prepare and negotiate with repair facilities.   

"To the extent damage is discovered that is not on the original estimate, the process for submitting a supplemental request for additional repair costs is contained on the estimate given to the repair facility or the customer, and experienced repair facilities understand how to process those requests.              

"The parts used to repair vehicles may include new original equipment parts, certified non-original equipment parts or recycled parts depending on the vehicle being repaired and the availability of parts.  Use of new certified non-original equipment parts and quality recycled parts are and have been used countrywide by repair facilities for many years, and are at times reflected in the repair estimates that we prepare. "  

Christine Tasher

GEICO Public Relations Director

Statement from the Insurance Information Institute  -- Generic Auto Crash Parts

http://www.iii.org/issue-update/generic-auto-crash-parts

"Since auto insurers will continue to insure the repaired vehicle and its occupants, auto insurers have a vested interest in returning a safe vehicle to the roadways.

Very truly yours,

Michael Barry

Vice President, Media Relations

Insurance Information Institute

Barry also sent 3 On Your Side two other things our viewers should keep in mind.

  1. Consumers should ask their repair specialist whether the part being installed is either an after-market part or an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) part and;
  2. Consumers can have their vehicle repaired at the auto body repair shop of their choice.

PDF: Arizona litigation complaint

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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