Keeping Your Paint Pristine

Before You Try to Get a New Top, Read This: Convertible Tops Have Three Different Styles

Convertibles (the cars, that is) are often sought after for their prestige as well as the fun of having the wind whip through your hair while the top is down or off. If you have acquired a convertible that did not come with its original top, and you would like to replace it, you should be aware that there is more than one kind of convertible top. To get the correct one, read the following and then visit your auto body and paint shop to have them track down a new top.

Hard Top

Many convertibles in the early to late seventies had “hard tops.” These bizarre convertible tops unlocked and snapped off completely, like you were removing the top portion of a model car. This may be why your vintage convertible no longer has one. These tops were often damaged after they spent some time off of the vehicles, or they were misplaced just prior to selling the vehicles to other previous owners. The auto body shop will be able to tell you if this is what you have, since there are very distinct connections for securing the hard tops to the car.

Canvas or Leather Soft Tops

More often than not, convertibles have retractable canvas or leather soft tops. If you have a top-of-the-line vintage convertible, you likely have a motorized retractable soft top. Unfortunately, these often met with disastrous ends because the motors jam up, and the tops get stuck in some position between all the way up or down. If you still have a motor button for the top, you can press it to hear it whine loudly and see the hoists in the back of the car trying to push something up. These are fairly common tops to replace, and even if yours is a rare model, the car manufacturers have developed conversion kits to make it easier to secure a modern soft top on older convertibles.

T-Tops

T-tops were so named because the front top of the car formed a perfect “T” to the back of the vehicle, and then the side portions of the roof would slide out and away from the vehicle, exposing the “T” in the middle. This will be most obvious if you have a T-top convertible but have the missing roof sections. The auto shop may have to rummage through several salvage yards to find a full top for you, but T-tops are replaceable. 

Talk to a company like Westside Upholstery for more information. 

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Automobile Dent Removal: 3 Effective Tactics

Automobile dents have a way of happening to all drivers, regardless of how cautious a driver they happen to be. Fortunately, you may not need to involve the services of a professional body shop to eliminate a dent. If you would like to learn more about tackling this common problem on your own, read on. This article will introduce three tactics for getting rid of that dent.

Suction the dent out using a plunger.

The common plunger is as useful a tool as it is humble. Not only does it help to clear up clogged drains, but it can also be used to remove dents from the exterior of your car. Not just any plunger will work, however. You want to specifically use a sink plunger. These are distinguished from toilet plungers by the fact they don’t contain a flange, or rubber lip. The presence of a flange will prevent your plunger from gripping the car as strongly.

Using the plunger to remove your dent is a pretty straightforward task. Press your plunger against the dent so as to form a tight seal, then pull out gently. If you can’t get the plunger to stick well enough, spray a little water on the dent and try again.

Loosen the dent up using boiling water.

If the exterior of your car consists of either fiberglass or plastic, and if you can physically reach the inside of the dent, then you may be able to solve your problem with little more than a kettle of boiling water. Enlist a helper to pour out the hot water on top of the dent. Meanwhile, reach your hand around to the inside and apply pressure to the back of the dent.

The water’s heat should act to increase the flexibility of the exterior. As a result, you should find it easy to pop back into it’s proper shape. Be sure to act quickly; the dented material will become harder and harder to pop out as the water’s heat dissipates.

Pop the dent out with a hair dryer and a can of compressed air.

This is an effective tactic for those who are unable to reach the inside of their dent. The idea here is that first you use your hair dryer to heat the area around the dent. Be sure not to leave the hair dryer pointed at any one place for too long, as this can potentially cause damage to your car’s paint job.

The compressed air only comes into play once you’ve heated the dent thoroughly. While the exterior is still hot, hold the can of air upside down and blast the dent with cold air. Ideally, the rapid change in temperature should cause the dent to pop back into place all on its own!

If you have dents that you can’t remove on your own, contact a company like Custom Kar Tops for assistance.

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Three Ways To Strip Paint From Your Auto Body Panels

If your car was in an accident and you’ve decided to tackle the repairs on your own, one of the things you’ll have to do is strip paint in the affected area. When it comes to paint removal, there’s no single approach that’s right for every situation. You’ll have to evaluate each of your choices to determine which one is the best fit for the condition that your car is in.

Doing It All By Hand

Stripping paint by hand can be a painstaking process. It requires a time commitment, so it isn’t the best option if you’re in a hurry. However, doing the work by hand does allow you to target your efforts precisely where you want to work. There’s no risk of over-spray or damaging the metal surface beneath.

To do the work by hand, you’ll need a set of sanding blocks and different sandpaper grits. Start with coarse paper, then work your way down to the fine grit to smooth things out. Sometimes, wet sanding is easier, because it removes the clear coat and the paint while keeping the dust to a minimum.

Using Liquid Paint Remover

Liquid paint removal is an efficient choice for stripping paint from auto body panels. It removes the paint without risking any damage to the underlying body panel. You just apply a liquid paint removal product using a brush, then scrape the paint off the surface with a putty knife once the paint starts to loosen up and form bubbles.

The one thing to note about liquid paint removal is that it often works in layers. That means reapplying it a few times if you’re stripping paint down to the body panel. Just keep in mind that you’ll probably want to remove the panels from the car to work on them, because any errant drips can result in bubbling paint in places you didn’t want it.

Speeding Things Up With Sandblasting

If you’re working on a large-scale project like stripping the whole car, you may want to speed things up by renting a sandblaster. The pressure behind the sandblaster will remove the paint much faster, but you’ll risk denting and other damage on the body panels. If you won’t have time to deal with the pits and dents, you’ll want a different method, but if you can fill in the surface divots and smooth things out after, you can get things done quickly.

These three methods are the most common ones for removing paint from auto body panels. If you’re not confident doing the work yourself, you can work with a local auto body repair shop like Westside Fender/Body & Refinishing to do it instead.

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Discuss These Three Subjects When You’re Talking To A Collision Repair Shop

After your vehicle has been damaged in an accident, your first priority is to deal with your insurance company. Once this necessity is completed, it’s time to start looking for an auto shop that can handle the repair work. Your insurance company will often have some recommendations of certified shops in your city, so it’s useful to call or visit each of the locations, talk to a shop employee and decide which will be best suited to handle your repair needs. Insurance companies won’t recommend shops that aren’t licensed, so you don’t have to worry about confirming this detail. Instead, make sure that you discuss the following three subjects to help you choose the best shop.

Make/Model Specialist

It’s often ideal to confirm that the mechanics at the repair shop are trained to work on your make and model of vehicle, especially if it’s somewhat uncommon. You should ask the shop representative if the mechanics have received training from the vehicle manufacturer and, if so, how recently. Leading auto manufacturers are constantly training mechanics from shops around the country to work on their vehicles properly. Knowing that the shop’s employees possess this advanced training can make you feel confident that you’re picking the right shop that will get the repair job done to your satisfaction.

Firm Timelines

Although unexpected delays can always slow down a repair job, it’s ideal to find a shop that will provide you with a clear timeline — in writing — to suggest when the job will be done. Don’t simply accept a rough prediction that it could be a few weeks, for example. Reputable shops will provide their customers with a work estimate that explains each of the elements of the job that are necessary and how long they’ll take to get finished.

Replacement Vehicle Rental

Given that your vehicle will be in the auto shop for a period of days or weeks, you’ll need an alternative method of transportation. It’s ideal to see if any of the shops that you’re considering have a vehicle-rental service in the same location. Many shops provide this benefit, which saves the customer from having to drop off his or her damaged vehicle and then arrange for a drive to a rental facility from a family member. It’s ideal to simply drop off your vehicle and browse the available rental vehicles to find out that suits your size requirements.

Click here for more on collision repair or do an online search. 

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Tips For Maintaining A Convertible Top

If you have a convertible and like to use a top every once in a while, then it’s a good idea to also do some maintenance from time to time. A bit of elbow grease here and there can lead to a much longer lifespan for your convertible top. Here are some tips to help you get started: 

Vinyl vs Fabric

The first step is to make sure you know exactly what kind of material your top is made out of. If you pick the wrong type of cleaning solution, then you could permanently ruin your top. That being said, most cleaners that are meant for convertible tops will work for both kinds of material. Just make sure to check the label for any warnings before proceeding.

Cleaning Away Dirt

The first thing you want to do is a cursory cleaning to remove the dirt. If you have one on hand, you can use a vacuum with a hose attachment to remove a good deal of the dirt. If you have a particularly powerful vacuum, then make sure that the settings are turned on fairly low so that you don’t damage the top.

If you are willing to get a bit messier, then a jet of clean water will help remove a lot of dirt from your top. If the dirt is not budging, then a dedicated convertible top cleaner is a good choice. Try not to use household cleaning products unless you are absolutely sure that they are safe, since their chemicals can really do a number on your top.

Grease and Tough Messes

If your problem is a bit bigger than grease, then you might want to go straight to a dedicated cleaner. One of the big problems with grease is that it can actually lead to the growth of mildew by providing a warm, wet environment. Getting that grease off of your top should be a top priority if you want to completely prevent the growth of mildew.

Warding Against the Future

There are many different sprays and protective layers that you can buy to protect your top. Coating your top with one of these methods every couple of weeks is a great way to minimize the amount of damage that you will have to deal with in the future. Applying a coat today can end up meaning a lot less time spent cleaning over the next few weeks, months, and even years. For further assistance, contact local professionals, such as those from Fred’s Auto Interiors.

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Fuel Tank Lid Covered With Rust? Repair It With These Steps

If rust covers the lid over your fuel tank, take steps to repair it now. A rusty gas tank lid effects the performance of your car’s engine, transmission and other critical parts if rust particles spread into the car’s fuel lines and tank. To prevent these issues, here are simple steps you can follow to repair your vehicle’s fuel tank lid now.   

Get Your Supplies

You’ll need to purchase or gather a few supplies to repair your rusted fuel tank lid:

  • 3 large cleaning cloths in chamois or cotton to avoid damaging the frame during the cleaning.
  • 1 large piece of sandpaper, which you can cut into small pieces later.
  • 1 large bottle of rust remover that comes with a small nozzle or cap you can use to squeeze or wet your cleaning cloths with easily.

Once you have all three supplies, park the car beneath an uncovered carport or shady tree to keep down the smell of gas fumes as you work on the gas tank’s lid. Heat from the sun or an enclosed garage can mix with the car’s gasoline fumes and make them smell worse.

You also need plenty of fresh air circulating around the car to keep down the effects of carbon monoxide, which is a strong and powerful invisible gas. Even if you don’t have the car’s engine on during the tank repairs, the fumes can still harm you if you inhale them.

Remove the Rust

Use scissors to cut your sandpaper into about four equal pieces, then follow the directions below:

  1. Use one piece of sandpaper to remove the rust from over the gas tank lid, then discard or exchange it for a new piece as needed. Don’t apply too much pressure on the gas tank lid with the sandpaper, or you can create holes in it. Instead, use small light circles to get rid of the top layer rust.
  2. Squirt a generous amount of rust remover on one of your cloths, then apply it directly to the rusted areas. If the rust remover irritates your hands, wear vinyl gloves to protect them.
  3. Use large circular motions with your cloth to wipe away the rust. The rust should begin to fade away during this step.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 until the rust completely disappears. Replace the soiled cloths with clean cloths to avoid smearing rust over the tank’s lid as you clean it.

Allow the cleaned gas tank lid to dry for about 30 minutes to one hour. Apply a clear coat or sealer over the lid, then cover it with a color that closely matches your car’s paint.

If you need additional help with removing the rust from your fuel tank lid, contact an auto body repair shop, such as High Point Body & Paint, for services. 

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What If It Can’t Be Fixed: Getting The Most Money For Your Totaled Car

If your car is totaled in an accident and you have an insurance plan that will pay you for the value of your car, you might be disappointed with the amount of money that you are able to get. This can be frustrating because you might need the money to purchase another car so that you can easily get to work and to other activities. Car insurance companies are going to have a different idea with regards to what a fair market-price of your car is. Here are some steps that you can take in order to make sure that you get the most money for your totaled car as possible.

1. Know the Value of the Car

Before you ask your insurance company for the money to cover your totaled vehicle, you want to make sure that you know what the vehicle is worth yourself. This will allow you to go into a negotiation feeling confident that you are asking for the correct price. You will want to use an online appraisal site that will allow you to determine the worth of your car, such as the Kelley Blue Book

2. Prove Your Car Was in Excellent Condition

If your car was in excellent condition or any other level of condition that is on the higher end of the scale that your insurance company uses, you are going to want to make sure that you are able to prove it. First, gather all of your maintenance records from the past five to ten years of the vehicle. These will show that you put the money and work into your vehicle and that it was maintained to a standard that is better than average.

Next, gather your receipts for anything that you have recently bought for your car. If you have recently installed a new radio or new leather on the seats, get the receipts to show that you made these improvements.

Finally, have pictures on hand of your car that prove that its aesthetic condition was spectacular. If you won any awards for your car or received any other signs of public attention, these are very helpful.

3. Let the Insurance Company Know Where You Are Planning to Purchase Your Car

Insurance companies will sometimes work off of a general price range that used cars fall in specific areas. For exapmle, used cars are slightly cheaper in Cleveland than they are in Akron. If you live in between the two cities but are planning on purchasing your car in Akron because you found one that works perfectly for you, make sure that you tell this to the insurance company because they will sometimes be more willing to give you more money if you are shopping in an area that is slightly more expensive.

For more information, talk to an auto collision repair facility to make sure that your car is truly beyond repair.

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