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Friday Fun: Shop can’t collect for pricey repairs and Mercedes beats out BMW as the top selling luxury brand

A 2014 Aston Martin DB9, painted in 'Skyfall' silver. A similar vehicle was repaired by a shop in Richmond, BC, but the vehicle's owner has refused to pay the repair bill.

By Jeff Sanford

Toronto, Ontario — January 12, 2017 — This week’s Friday Fun looks into a vehicle owner who refused to pay for repairs to her outrageously expensive car, a driver in the US who crashed into several cars and blamed demonic influences, how authorities confiscated 21 truckloads of counterfeit auto parts and much, much more!

Bad weather from one end of the country to the other is creating some epic pile-ups. A flood of articles appeared detailing the auto damage occurring around the country:

– In the west, Environment Canada warned of, “… extreme cold mornings for most of the Prairies, saying that wind chill values could reach up to – 45C into Thursday morning … In Saskatchewan, RCMP were not advising travel anywhere in the province.”

– A report carried by CBC Ottawa notes that collision repair centres in that city are having a busy winter. According to the report, “Auto body repair shops in Ottawa are reporting more customers rolling up with cracked bumpers, headlights and fender skirts this winter, as temperatures plummet and snowbanks become hard as rock.”

Alek Koundakjian, the owner of Aleks Auto Body Works, was quoted as saying, “Ever since the freezing storms and stuff, people have been bumping into snowbanks that are really rock solid.” Koundakjian went on to say his shop has seen, “… about 25 per cent more customers,” compared to last season. “Last year we had really warm weather until December. But this year it’s just been a stronger, heavier winter, a lot of ice,” he said. The story notes, “The majority of the damage appears on the front of vehicles as people try to push their way over snowbanks at the end of driveways.” The writer notes his, “… shop is full of bumpers in different stages of repair.”

Another owner of a collision repair shop, Romeo Donatucci of Romeo’s Garage and Body Shop, also said he’s seeing a higher number of customers this season. “A lot of people take it for granted — ‘Oh, it’s only snow!’ No, it’s not only snow … Especially because we had the warm weather and now it’s colder again. So it’s become really, really hard and it’s just like a hitting a wall instead of a snowbank.”

Donatucci went on to say that he has been in the business 46 years and said vehicles just aren’t built like they used to be, with steel bumpers and chrome. He said the plastic used on modern-day vehicles, “… doesn’t fare well in cold temperatures and can sometimes shatter like glass … people are causing thousands of dollars in damage by just clipping or trying to drive through snowbanks,” according to the story. “They tear the front bumper. They [are] just hooked up with a few little plastic clips and obviously — with the snow and ice and cold weather — the clips are becoming just like a piece of glass. They snap, they break and they leave the bumper behind,” said Donatucci.

– Turning to Toronto, a report by the CBC detailing the damage from the snow noted that the number of accidents one day this week—100—was actually lower than normal. According to the report there were, “… 70,004 car collisions reported in the city last year, averaging out to approximately 192 per day.” According to the report, “… 77 of the collisions in 2016 resulted in fatalities. That’s an 18 per cent increase from 2015.”

Repairer Driven News reports that “The Society of Collision Repair Specialists announced Wednesday that it updated its Complete Guide to Repair Planning with new content including frame setup considerations. The free guidebook, available on the SCRS homepage, lists hundreds of procedures that might not be found in estimating services’ labor times — and thus potentially overlooked by an appraiser or estimator. Once known as the ‘800 list,’ it’s grown to more than 1,000 items.”

– Some people just don’t get it: If you’re going to buy a car of which there are only 100 in existence, you are going to have a big repair bill if you get into a collision. How many collision repair centre owners can relate to the shop involved in this story that appeared in BC’s Richmond News? The owner of an Aston Martin painted the particular shade of silver used on a car featured in the James Bond movie, Skyfall, is said to be surprised by the cost of the repairs to her car. The report notes that a Richmond resident had driven, “… the stunning limited edition — only 100 were made — for only a few kilometres before she inexplicably veered off the road and hit a large stone … in December 2015.” The story goes on to say that, “… Liu’s 007 replica has been languishing in the luxury bodyshop of Burrard Autostrasse (BA) in Vancouver …. For almost a year, Liu, who lives near Blundell and No. 2 roads, has been at odds with the autoshop over their bill to bring her Aston Martin back to roadworthy condition.”

Turns out that, “… a pot of the car’s silver paint, which is named after the Bond movie Skyfall, chimes in at $900 and a single headlight registers at $7,000.” Liu, who is in her 30s and travels to China often, was quoted as saying that, “I’m not going to pay a cent; I don’t even want the car back anymore; I want a refund (from the dealer).” She complained about the cost of the subframe, claiming she could get a similar frame elsewhere, as well as the cost of storage. Shop owners across Canada will sympathize with those doing the work in this case.

Explaining parts of the $132,000 bill, Frank Van Pykstra, co-owner of BA, said the brakes are ceramic and, therefore, “They can’t be machined like regular brakes … This is a car that can go 250 kilometres per hour; we can’t take any chances, it has to be 100 per cent.”

Van Pykstra said he’ll waive the storage fees if the matter resolves soon. “We’ve done everything we can for this customer,” he added. Another factor working in here: “ICBC, which is hiking basic insurance rates next year by 4.9 per cent, announced last November that, beginning this year, it will stop insuring luxury cars worth more than $150,000,” according to the report. “There are about 3,000 cars worth more than $150,000 insured in B.C. this year, a 30 per cent increase from three years ago. Many of them can be seen being driven around in Richmond.”

– A driver in the US who crashed into several vehicles then told another motorist “the devil made him do it” has pleaded not guilty to reckless driving. According to a report by Detroit Free Press, Kyle Craig damaged about a half dozen vehicles in November while driving erratically across an exit ramp and through a parking lot. “God saved me, and it’s really hard to explain,” Craig was quoted as saying. “I hit seven vehicles, and I was able to walk right away from that. I don’t think I was even wearing a seat belt.” The report goes on to note that, “Craig said he didn’t get much sleep the night before the crashes because he was reading the Bible, and was ‘sucked right in’ while he was driving. ‘It’s almost as if the devil entered me, and God saved me and prevented him from entering me and killing me.’” East Lansing police took Craig into custody after the incident but referred him to Sparrow Hospital for a mental health assessment. “I was just so thankful that the cops did their job, and they were able to help me through it,” said Craig.

– A video prepared by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety finds that aluminum-bodied Ford-150s with the extended cab has some issues when it comes to certain types of collisions:

 

– Sergio Marchionne, head of Fiat Chrysler, said tariffs like the taxes president-elect Donald Trump has recently hinted at could be “lethal” for the company’s auto manufacturing in Windsor. The FCA CEO was talking at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday. The Windsor-made Chrysler Pacifica had just been named the sport utility vehicle of the year. Going on about the potential effects of Trump tariffs Marchionne said, “If we just can’t recover the costs of the vehicle that would be lethal, I think, to Windsor.” The executive did temper his comments saying he expects “Canada will not be involved” in any of the trade disputes Trump is talking about. “To the best of my knowledge there have been no tweets on Canadian production of cars,” he said. So far Trump’s attention has only been on Mexico.

– Authorities in Abu Dhabi say they confiscated 21 truckloads of fake auto parts in a single day, according to a report on Gulf News. The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) reportedly confiscated more than 500,000 parts. It took the authorities 20 hours to count all the counterfeit parts, which will be destroyed after legal proceedings wrap up. According to the write-up the officials did not reveal the brand names of the fake products. “We don’t want to cause panic among customers,” they said. But the seized goods were said to be imitations of, “… almost 15 global brands of vehicles … Around 50 per cent of them were of a single popular brand.” The dealer was offering the fake goods at one-third of the price of the original products according to the report.

– Have you ever seen a picture taken from overhead of the Ferrari manufacturing complex? Check it out:

FerrariOverhead  
   

– BMW has lost its crown as the world’s biggest luxury-car brand. BMW sold 80,000 fewer cars than Mercedes-Benz last year. Apparently the Mercedes brand, “… drew younger buyers with sporty redesigns and a bigger array of increasingly popular SUVs. A rebound for BMW will be hampered by challenges that range from slowing auto demand in Europe to the threat of trade barriers in the U.K. and North America,” according to a report on Bloomberg.

– Another announcement from the Detroit auto show: “Ford Motor plans to revive the Ford Bronco sport-utility vehicle and Ford Ranger mid-size pickup truck in a strategic bet on a surge of American nostalgia, hefty vehicles and low gasoline prices,” according to a report from USA Today. The CEO of Ford was quoted as saying, “There is so much love out there for the Bronco. If you look at that rugged SUV segment, over the last five years it’s like the second-fastest-growing segment within SUVs.” The story goes on to note that, “The original Ford Bronco was introduced in 1966 as an off-road vehicle. Production ended in 1996, not long after a white version of the vehicle was immortalized on national TV as O.J. Simpson’s getaway vehicle. Ford replaced it with the Expedition SUV, which it still sells.”

– Last week the FBI arrested a Volkswagen executive in Florida, accusing him of playing, “… a central role in a broad conspiracy to keep United States regulators from discovering that diesel vehicles made by the company were programmed to cheat on emissions tests … After a study by West Virginia University first raised questions over Volkswagen’s diesel motors in early 2014, Mr. Schmidt played a central role in trying to convince regulators that excess emissions were caused by technical problems rather than by deliberate cheating, Ian Dinsmore, an FBI agent, said in a sworn affidavit used as the basis for Mr. Schmidt’s arrest.” The report from the New York Times goes on to say, “Mr. Schmidt deceived American regulators ‘by offering reasons for the discrepancy other than the fact that VW was intentionally cheating on U.S. emissions tests, in order to allow VW to continue to sell diesel vehicles in the United States,’ the affidavit said. Mr. Schmidt continued to represent Volkswagen after the company admitted in September that cars were programmed to dupe regulators.”

– Canadian owners of affected Volkswagen AG vehicles caught up in the auto maker’s diesel scandal are going to share up to $2.1-billion as a result of class-action settlement. Details of the settlement were recently revealed at an Ontario court hearing. “The deal requires final approval by courts in Ontario and Quebec, lawyers for the plaintiffs said…[But] the deal allows owners to sell their vehicles back to Volkswagen Canada Inc., trade them in for new vehicles or have them repaired … Payments will range from $5,100 to $8,000 for the 104,000 Canadian owners who are affected.” The report from the Globe & Mail goes on to note that, “Court filings in the class-action suit said Canadian ‘plaintiffs paid a premium of several thousand dollars for diesel-powered vehicles compared with gasoline-powered vehicles … Volkswagen Canada sales fell 13 per cent through the first 11 months of 2016 from year-earlier levels, compared with overall Canadian sales, which rose 3 per cent in the same period.”

– The NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan, notes that one auto repair shop in the area is using a powerful image to send a message to drivers to stop texting. According to the story, “A Mercedes lies on its side in front of Impact Collision Repair on 36th Street in Cascade Township. A banner hung across it reads ‘Stop texting.’|” The general manager of the business is quoted as saying, “The car definitely makes a statement …W e’ve had people come in and actually say, ‘Did that accident happen here?” It turns out the scene was staged, but the GM estimated the shop, “… sees about one car a week that was involved in a crash that may have involved texting.” He was quoted as saying, “It started out just hearing tow truck drivers, hearing customers state that they thought that there was texting involved in a lot of the accidents. And then it really came to head when my daughter was involved in an accident.” Turns the other driver involved in that accident was texting. According to the story, “His daughter’s truck was the first vehicle the shop used in its campaign about a year and a half ago … According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,400 people were killed and nearly 400,000 injured in 2015 as a result of distracted driving crashes.”

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