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Thirty to forty plus years ago, when vehicles were simpler, the thought of buying and fixing an accident car was reasonable, but now with all the onboard computers and digital networks, the task is 1000-fold more difficult.AdrianHancu/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Similar to my recent piece detailing elevated out-of-province car purchases, I am now observing another emerging trend. Namely, consumers buying accident-damaged cars from an auction and then employing a body shop in hopes of getting a car on the road for cheap, and thereby beating the absolutely frenzied used car market.

Comparably, there are those who act as their own contractor for a home renovation by hiring all the necessary trades and self-managing their project. While both scenarios are doable, is it really worth it in the end if you are not a professional in the related field? Recently I considered taking on the task of managing our home rebuild after our contractor died during the first construction phase. After careful consideration I relented because while I’m a decent home DIY’er, I don’t believe those DIY skills are the same as project management competence. Fortunately, I know my limitations. The same applies to those nonindustry folk who purchase accident vehicles.

Thirty to forty plus years ago, when vehicles were simpler, the thought of buying and fixing an accident car was reasonable, but now with all the onboard computers and digital networks, the task is 1000-fold more difficult. I have recently seen multiple vehicles arriving for provincial safety standard inspections with Supplemental Restraint System (SRS), also known as airbag warning lights illuminated on the dashboard. These were recently acquired vehicles that the new owners are trying to get licensed for the road.

It plays out like this; a consumer buys an insurance write-off from an auction or scrap yard and then takes it to a friend’s auto body shop to have it repaired, or they buy an uncertified, recently repaired accident vehicle. What the new owner doesn’t realize is that a large portion of the repair estimate lies in replacing all the affected SRS airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and control modules. The new owner has a driveable vehicle but can’t get it certified for the road because the SRS system is not functioning properly and, in most provinces, it needs to be at inspection time. In many cases the insurance company declares a vehicle as a complete loss because the airbag replacement combined with body repairs exceeds the repair to current market value ratio. Understanding your provincial branding statuses and the differences between a total-loss, salvage and irreparable vehicle is better left to a professional. Before you as a consumer purchase a vehicle at a public auction, you have to ask yourself how many professionals have passed that vehicle over before it arrived at that public auction. Most of the time, public auctions are where all the leftover, unwanted vehicles end up.

In the case of the vehicles I am referring to that came in to the shop recently, they both needed about $5,000 worth of high-tech SRS module and airbag repair in order to pass a provincial safety inspection, which of course was not in the new owner’s budget. I’m sorry, but if you are not a professional auto or body repair technician, the chances of you beating the system and coming out ahead are slim.


Your automotive questions, answered

Hello! Could you tell me if using Known Rust Protection voids new car warranty? I called Honda Canada to find out and they said that it does void the warranty.

DC

This can be a tough one for many new car buyers as conflicting information is rampant. If you go to the Krown website, under the FAQ section, it clearly indicates that the use of their product does not void any manufacturer’s warranty. Alternatively, every dealer salesperson will tell you that the opposite is true, ironically though, they sell their own rustproofing packages.

Looking at the Honda Canada web page I cannot see any written policy regarding aftermarket rustproofing and quite simply, I do not believe any such written policy exists. I’ve used Krown Rust Protection for years on my own vehicles and have never had a problem, nor have I ever spoken with an actual real person who has had a warranty conflict because of rustproofing. I’m sure it happens from time to time, but it is not nearly as big as of an issue as dealer sales staff would like you to believe.

Just to be 100-per-cent sure that I am offering correct advice to you DC, I also called the Krown head office and was immediately connected to the company’s president Freeman Young. He assured me that use of their products will not void your Honda factory warranty.


Bonjour Lou, First, I want to say that I really enjoy and look forward, each week, to your articles and YouTube videos. I am rebuilding a 1969 MGB and I have a daily 1979 MGB that I maintain. When replacing gaskets in an engine, how do I know if I need to use ‘goop’ or not? Another question, if goop is used, how do I know which one to use?

Yves G, Ottawa

Thanks Yves!

By goop, I believe you are referring to RTV silicone, with RTV signifying it as room temperature vulcanizing. And yes, the first sign of an amateur DIY mechanic, is when there are loads of “goop” everywhere squeezed out the sides of a valve cover.

When no instructions are included with a gasket, we assume that for the most part it goes on dry; do not coat the entire gasket. Silicone is then typically used at any corners of the gasket or where there are any steps or mating joints on the machined surfaces or where a gap might be present. Just use enough so as to have it visible at the sides but not squishing out everywhere. It’s a practised skill, just like caulking baseboards and windows in a house. Once upon a time there was specific silicone for cork gaskets and a different silicone for rubber gaskets, but it’s fairly universal today. However, I would visit an enthusiast forum and inquire which brand is the favoured amongst other MG owners.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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