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Category: Technology and Efficiency

A close-up of a shiny silver car, light reflecting on the hood and windshield.
Aluminum cars may not look different, but they require different care at the body shop.

Manufacturers continuously modify what they use to make cars, and more vehicles are now being made with aluminum. More than a million cars on the road are now aluminum, and they require a different kind of training to repair body damage.

Using aluminum weighs less, making the vehicle more fuel efficient and attractive to car buyers. Adding aluminum reduces the weight of the vehicle by hundreds of pounds. This is good news for car owners who will pay less in fuel.

But repairing aluminum vehicles presents a challenge. Because it is not widely used, few shops are certified to work on aluminum. When looking for a collision repair shop for your vehicle, ask if that body shop has aluminum certified technicians.

Why aluminum collision repair is different

A silver Ford F-150 sits in a bright room.
The aluminum Ford F-150 came out in 2015.

The debut of the aluminum Ford F-150 presents a new challenge for some auto body repair shops. Repairing vehicles that are not made primarily of steel takes training and the right tools. This can be costly for some smaller collision repair shops.

Shops need a certification from Ford to make manufacturer-standard repairs.

More aluminum on the roads

It is not just Ford producing aluminum-made cars anymore. In addition, GM is launching a “mixed materials strategy” with its 2019 Chevrolet Silverado. The company says training from the manufacturer will be necessary for any body shops. Consequently, collision repair shops will have to invest thousands of dollars in tools and training to make the repairs.

ProCare Automotive and Collision, a body shop in San Antonio, has aluminum certified technicians. Our technicians train with manufacturers for long-lasting professional repairs.

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A woman sits in the drivers seat of a grey car with the keys in her hand. She's leaning out the window, smiling.
Finding a safe vehicle for your teen may feel overwhelming, but a good place to look is IIHS safety ratings.

When searching for a vehicle for your teen driver, you want to find the safest option possible. Not only are teen drivers inexperienced with many dangerous driving situations, but driving on busy San Antonio roads means a greater chance of an accident.

Each year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announces the cars for its Top Safety Picks. IIHS looks at two main aspects of safety: crashworthiness and crash prevention. “Crashworthiness” is how well the vehicle protects the occupants of the car. Prevention looks at technology that could mitigate or lessen the severity of a crash.

If you plan to buy a new vehicle, look at the list of Top Safety Picks.

Safest vehicles for 2017

If you want a pre-owned vehicle from 2017, the IIHS considers these cars as the safest models: Chevrolet Volt, Volvo S60, Toyota Prius Prime, Subaru Impreza, Genesis G80, Genesis G90, Volvo V60, Nissan Maxima, Lexus RC, and the Subaru Legacy.

  • 2017 Nissan Maxima

Safest vehicles for 2018

For 2018 models, the IIHS ranked these vehicles as the safest: Kia Forte, Kia Soul, Subaru Impreza, Subaru WRX, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Toyota Camry, BMW 5 series, Genesis G80, Genesis G90, Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E Class sedan, Hyundai Santa Fe, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC.

  • 2018 Mercedes Benz GLC

Other considerations

Most teens feel more comfortable driving a tiny car, but if they get in an accident, they’ll be better protected by a heavier vehicle. Horsepower also temps young drivers, though more power is best for drivers with more experience. Young drivers are less experienced, and more power means a greater chance of losing control of a vehicle. This is why electronic stability control, or ESC, is essential to help the driver have greater control. This is standard on passenger vehicles made after 2012.

A safe car can only do its job if your teen follows the rules of the road. Your teen should know that just because they have an excellent safety-rated car doesn’t mean that they need to be any less alert while driving. Obeying traffic rules, putting away their cell phone, and using their seatbelt are still of greater importance to their safety.

An outside view of two dash cameras attached near the top of a windshield.
Dash cameras are becoming increasingly popular, filming the outside or inside of a car while driving.

We live in a world where much of what we do in public is on camera. If you go inside a business, you may be on a security camera. When attending events, you may be in someone’s video from a smartphone. And now, more drivers use dash cameras than ever before. Many people use them in their personal vehicles to capture various perspectives while driving.

There is not a specific law in Texas that pertains to dash cameras. However, there are privacy and driving laws that drivers using a dash camera should know.

Privacy rights

With cameras that surround us in public and people using their smartphones, it is easy to forget that we do have rights to our privacy.

Recording video from a dash camera while driving is not against the law in San Antonio, as long as it is hands-free. Mount the camera on the dash and never maneuver it while driving. If you are recording audio, remember the privacy laws in Texas regarding consent to being recorded with audio.

Also, it is not against the law to record a traffic stop, or any interaction with police, in Texas.

Keep a clear view

If your dash camera is mounted on the dashboard or on your windshield, do not put it in a location that blocks your view. Make sure your camera doesn’t prevent you from seeing vital road signs, pedestrians, or other vehicles.

Also, never depend on a dash camera as your view for driving. The camera can serve as a different perspective of what you see while driving and can become an extra set of eyes, but should not be relied upon for safety.

Benefits of dash camera video for a collision center

Close-up of a front bumper and headlight, dented and misaligned.
Dash cameras can help drivers when talking to car repair technicians and their insurance.

Drivers who get into a wreck can provide the video footage to their body shop for repair technicians to review. Technicians can then have a better understanding of the impact to the car and possible damage.

The video can also be helpful for insurance agents, determining blame for an accident, or viewing your driving behaviors that may have caused the crash.

At ProCare Collision, a body shop in San Antonio, we have provided high quality collision repair to vehicles for more than 60 years. The more details you have regarding the accident can help our technicians provide the most accurate repairs to your car so you can get back on the road.

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Get the most miles out of your hybrid and pay less at the pump.

If you own a hybrid vehicle, you probably purchased it for the fuel efficiency. Texas is a hot spot for hybrid electric vehicles. But are you really getting the best fuel mileage out of your eco-friendly vehicle? Here are our top five tips to more MPG on a hybrid car.

Economy Mode

Most hybrids come with a feature that uses the car’s sensors to help a driver automatically save fuel. Check to see if the economy mode or a similar mode is turned on. This feature may limit acceleration and other features of the car’s performance but it will conserve fuel and save you money in the long run.

Keep Battery Charged

A well-charged battery on a hybrid helps drivers use less gasoline and more electricity. Read the owner’s manual to your hybrid for the maker’s best recommendations for charging the battery.

Gradual Stops

Gradual braking with your car has multiple benefits, including generating power for a hybrid. As the brakes are applied in a hybrid, the electric motor becomes a generator and converts the energy from braking into electricity and stores it in the battery. This way, you’re using more electricity to power your vehicle during your drive than gasoline.

Pulse and Glide

The pulse and glide method in a hybrid car gets the vehicle to stabilize the energy use between the electric and gas engines. For many hybrids, this is somewhere between 30 and 40 mph. A driver can find this level by gradually accelerating to this speed and then applying a quick press to the gas pedal. Some hybrids will give an indication on the screen to show the energy use has been stabilized.

Limit Accessory Use

Turning off accessories while driving can save on your fuel mileage in a hybrid vehicle.

Minimizing the use of internal accessories, such as air conditioning or the radio, can save fuel on any car. But in a hybrid, a driver can save fuel and electricity by minimizing the use of any accessories that are not needed during the drive. The economy mode may also help adjust settings to the air conditioner and other accessories to save on power, but turning them off altogether will save even more energy for driving.

Remember, if you need your hybrid vehicle serviced, ProCare Automotive and Collision is more than a San Antonio auto body shop. ProCare is Hybrid Certified and our experts are trained to provide specialized service for your hybrid vehicle’s needs. Call us today and let our technicians give your hybrid the check-up it needs.

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Two dash cameras are suspended from the windshield, recording the scene in front of the car.
Dash cams are becoming increasingly popular.

Examining the dash cam trend

Dashboard cameras – a type of technology that, in the past, were mainly associated with officers of the law – are rising in popularity among drivers in the US. Both the reasons drivers use dash cams and the legal issues surrounding them are complex.

An objective eyewitness

Perhaps the most obvious motivation behind the on-board cameras – or “dash cams” – is the hope that the captured footage may help in case of an accident or ticket. Many people opting for dash cams are professional drivers whose livelihoods depend on maintaining a good driving record. Many use it as a witness in case of an accident, where the video provides time-stamped proof of the driver’s actions.

In one example, a driver who was pulled over for using his cell phone while driving was found to be innocent when the footage from his two-way dash cam revealed that he was merely scratching his ear, not violating the law. Dash cam footage might also help assign fault in insurance claims, helping victims avoid both undeserved rate increases and deductible expenses when they take their car to their body shop.

The cameras can provide a more objective account of an incident than humans might be able to provide. Regardless of good intentions, high-stress events like car accidents can result in less-than-perfect recall from the people involved.

Could cameras create better drivers?

Some dash cam proponents suggest that on-board cameras could be used to create better drivers. For example, parents of new teen drivers could use dash cam footage to monitor their young drivers and provide feedback. It might be helpful for a teen driver to watch how they are displaying reckless habits before they lead to an accident or ticket.

What’s more, some dash cam users feel that having the devices in their car has made them into more responsible and mindful drivers. The very awareness that you are being recorded might curb reckless driving habits. And in reviewing footage, drivers have the opportunity to spot bad driving habits they weren’t aware they were guilty of. The practice of reviewing the video from on-board cameras might be beneficial for both new drivers and veterans behind the wheel, though studies to confirm this idea are still needed.

What does the law say?

Generally speaking, dash cam use is considered legal and the footage the units provide can usually be used as evidence in a court of law. But, different states have different rules about the devices’ footage and their physical placement in the vehicle. Texas allows dashboard cams with some restrictions.

Regulations about where and how the cameras can be mounted might vary, as can a state’s restrictions on recording people (like passengers in the vehicle) without consent. If dash cams continue to grow in popularity, the rules regulating their use will likely become more established.

The next time you are dealing with car damage, regardless if you captured the incident with an on-board cam, call the expert team at ProCare Collision, a San Antonio paint and body shop.

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