Oct 29, 2021


“Hello, this is Steve from Crawford’s Auto Center.  I am calling to advise you that your insurance company is asking us to install a potentially cracked and damaged wheel on your car. We don’t feel that this is the proper method to repair your vehicle. However, this is all your insurance company is willing to pay for. When we confronted your carrier with this unprofessional behavior they advised us that this is what our customer paid for in their insurance policy.

Could you please do us a favor and bring in a copy of your auto insurance policy so we can read what is covered? It makes no sense to us that you would have agreed to use unsafe and dangerous parts on your car; it would help us to help you by reading what you have agreed to within your insurance policy.”

>>> “Hello, this is Crawford’s again. Have you been able to locate your insurance policy?”

It is not a surprise to us that most people have no idea what their rights are within their insurance policy because when the insurance policy is received in the mail it is filed away and never opened. That is, until a property loss occurs and the guidelines within the policy become a reason to call to your insurance agent and ask, “What exactly did you sell me?” That is if you are lucky enough to have an agent to speak with due to the large amount of policies being sold online without agent representation.

We can explain this situation easier by using the Nationwide Insurance Company’s “Brand New Belongings” television commercial. This TV ad depicts a scene where a home is broken into and the thieves make off with valuable household items. Next, is the insurance company’s sleekly dressed lady who drops in and replaces the stolen items throughout the home. The commercial’s narrator advises the folks watching at home that Nationwide will replace these items with “brand new versions, so you don’t feel robbed!”  Most viewers fail to hear the part where the narrator uses the terms brand new versions because they are caught up into the fear and intimidation of having their home vandalized while watching the tightly dressed lady replace their stolen items. But the key word here is “versions”  And the insurance buying public needs to realize what they are purchasing for insurance coverage, because if you do suffer a loss, you may not get what you believe you are entitled to by settling for similar versions.

Reconditioned Wheels: In the world of auto body collision repair, the reconditioned wheel is a perfect example of a “similar version” – A large percentage of automobile collision damages involves one or more wheels on the damaged vehicle. Many of today’s automobiles ride on aluminum alloy wheels that can be costly when replacements are needed. We witness the majority of insurance companies writing damage appraisals using reconditioned wheels during their inspections. When the appraiser is asked to write for a proper factory wheel, they reply, “this is what the owner agreed to within their insurance policy and that is all we are authorized to pay for.” The safeness of the wheel or the risk and exposure to the motoring public does not appear to concern the insurance representatives. The insurance person is focused on the alternative parts clause that is listed in the auto insurance policy guidelines. Alternative parts being aftermarket, salvaged, rebuilt, refurbished and reconditioned parts.

We don’t believe our customers agreed to drive on questionably welded and unsafely repaired wheels when they purchase their insurance policy. However, this is where the educated consumer becomes an advocate for safe auto parts installed during collision repairs. Simply read the insurance policy when you purchase the product to assure you are entitled to original factory parts, not similar versions. Please read your insurance policies before you purchase it!

Exactly what is a Reconditioned Wheel? It is a used, take-off or salvaged wheel that was previously damaged by curb rash, accident loss or similar circumstances. The wheel is shipped to an aftermarket re-builder to be repaired and reconditioned and then marketed to the driving public as trustworthy and reliable. The prior condition and severity of a donor wheel becomes unrecognizable when the reconditioning company repairs, refinishes and polishes the wheels so it appears like new. It is important to point out, that reconditioned wheels do not carry equivalent guarantees or warranties like the original manufactured wheels. The automobile repair industry has no certification process to determine the condition and test the integrity of damaged wheels that are to be reconditioned. There is no regulatory or governmental agency to ascertain if a donor wheel is a good candidate for safe wheel repairs. Matter in fact the only true expert on aluminum alloy used in the manufacture of these wheels is Alcoa Aluminum, the world’s leading producer of aluminum for alloy wheels. Alcoa Aluminum has issued public statements that advise against welding and repairing damaged aluminum wheels. When insurance company representatives write an estimate for replacement parts that may carry potential risk and safety hazards, it becomes the repair shop’s responsibility to accept the part or not. Many body shops allow the insurance company to dictate what parts are used for collision repairs and repair under the premise, “that is all they would pay for”. Direct Repair Shops are contracted with insurance companies and have no choice in the matter, whereas they must do the repairs following the conditions of their agreement with the insurance company.alcoa wheel alteration statement

Crawford’s Auto Center believes that our customers (consumers) are entitled to the best service possible and that the restoration of the customer’s vehicle to pre-accident condition using O.E.M. (original equipment manufacturer) parts and manufacturer-recommended procedures is the best means for achieving accurate results. Reconditioned wheels are not safe and there is no liability coverage or guarantee included with these wheels. This sums it up for our position on using reconditioned wheels. In our opinion reconditioned wheels should not be permitted on the roadways. We would not put them on our vehicles and will not put them on yours.