Why is repairing one little scratch so expensive?
When repairing something as small as a scratch it might be necessary to repaint the entire panel. When we do this we must remove any trim and/or parts that are on that panel (i.e. moldings, handles, and mirrors). Depending on where the scratch is on the panel, we might actually have to “blend” the paint into the adjacent panel to achieve a proper color match, again, having to remove any hardware on that adjacent panel. Occasionally, we can do small spot repairs if the scratch is small enough and near an edge, but we only do this on a case by case basis.
Can you give me an estimate over the phone?
It is generally not possible to give estimates over the phone. There are far too many aspects to consider when we write an estimate. Everything from the year, make, and model to the slightest details such as power windows, transmission, and even memory seats. Today’s modern vehicles have many different options which affect many of the repair parts and labor times when repairing them. “No two dents are alike!”
What makes a car a total loss?
My bumper got ruined in an accident, but now my insurance is saying that’s a total?! It's a ’79 Honda Civic but it’s in good shape—I don’t understand...
First of all, we are in the business of repairing cars. We don’t “total” cars. Only insurance companies can do that. We write estimates in a very fair and honest manner. A total loss occurs when the repair costs outweigh the value of the vehicle. You might say, “my car is worth ten thousand dollars and the estimate is only nine thousand”. The car is also worth something after the accident. Your wrecked ten thousand dollar car might be worth two thousand dollars to a salvage yard. The insurance company takes those numbers, the cost of repairs and the “salvage value”, and adds them up. If it were more than the value of the car, in this case 11k vs. 10k, then the car would most likely be a total loss. Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with the mechanical condition of the vehicle. A perfectly running and restored ’79 Honda Civic is still only worth a certain amount. A simple fender replacement could indeed “total” that car.
Why do you need my VIN number just to replace a headlight?
The VIN number tells us all about your car. You might think that something as simple as a headlight would be easy. We could call Joe The Parts Guy and say, “Hey Joe, send me a headlight for this car”. However, it is not always as easy as this. There are many different options on cars today such as; halogen, xenon, built in fog-lites, self-leveling, and even headlights that turn in connection with the steering!
What kind of cars do you work on?
We work on all makes and models. We do however specialize in European cars. Specifically, Porsche, Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Volvo, and Volkswagen. We are Volvo, Audi, and Volkswagen Certified. We are also very familiar with Hondas, Toyotas, Subarus, Lexus, and just about every other make and model.
Do you do any restoration repair? I have a great ’57 Porsche that needs a little work...
Yes, we do restoration work, but only on a case by case basis. Feel free to ask. We can also offer referrals to other shops.
Are you guys affiliated with the Carlsen group of dealerships?
Mr. Carlsen at one time owned all of it. In fact, Mr. Mathews was hired by Mr. Carlsen many years ago to manage his body shop. Mr. Carlsen retired in the early 80’s and sold the businesses to his general managers and partners. While Mathews-Carlsen is an independent shop we have maintained a close working relationship with the dealerships over the years. Mr. Mathews passed away in 2003, Mr. Carlsen passed away in 2005. See our About Us page to learn more about these amazing people.
What if I can’t pick up my car in person?
There are options for vehicle pickup. If you can't show up in person give us a call and we can work out other arrangements.
Where are you located and how do I get there?
We are located behind Audi Palo Alto. Take Embarcadero Road heading East from 101. Then once you pass the Audi Dealer make a right turn on Faber Place. We are about half way down the block on the right hand side.
Umm...The tow company left my car at your shop late last night. Now what?
Call us and let us know it’s here. We can advise you best over the phone on what to do next.
Does paint really cost that much?
Think of it this way. A bottle of nail polish typically costs about five dollars. Try painting a car door with nail polish. How many of those five dollar bottles do you think you will need? Oh, and don't forget you have to prime the door first. Oh, and of course you need to apply a clear coat over that...
When can I wash my car?
Typically, you can hand wash your car immediately after the repair. Avoid the “spinning brush” or “mop” type car washes, new paint or not, those just aren’t nice to the finish of your car.
When can I wax my car?
We ask that you wait about one month before waxing your car after new paint has been applied.
What types of repairs do you do—body versus mechanical versus electrical?
We are a Collision Repair Facility. We specialize in restoring a vehicle to its pre-loss condition. This can include (but is certainly not limited to) repairing or replacing damaged sheet metal, straightening or replacement of frame and frame related components, suspension and wheel alignment work, mechanical work, interior work, electrical repair, airbag and related components, and resetting computer systems.
How much do you do “in house” and how much is sent out? Can I take the car to the other place myself and save some money?
Nearly all work is done in house as this is the most cost effective way to repair a vehicle. Occasionally a vehicle might need to be taken to a dealer to have specific computer/mechancial issues taken care of.
Will you re-paint my car completely—I want to change the color.
We don’t do complete re-paints unless it’s for an insurance claim (completely key scratched, vandalism, or some sort of chemical fallout). It is very expensive to change the color on a car and it is terribly time consuming. Stop to consider where all the color of your car is. Under the hood, around the engine, in the trunk, the inside door frames, and everywhere else you can imagine. To do a proper job we would have to remove body panels, moldings, interior, and even glass to ensure a quality job. There are some shops that specialize in complete re-paints. They have enabled their facility to handle that type of work flow. We major in collision repair.
Do you mix your own paint, use factory paint or what?
Yes, we mix our own paint. We use Glasurit (made by BASF) which is a German brand of paint widely used throughout Europe. We have a large bank of toners and use a computer database to look up the proper formula for your car. The painters then spend some time spraying out test panels and ensuring a good match. As mandated by the state of California, our base coat (the color coat) is waterborne and the clear coat is urethane enamel.
Cost of average repair—how much is my bumper repair going to cost?
Estimates really should be done in person. It is nearly impossible to tell what sort of damage needs to be addressed over the phone. A bumper repair can be anywhere from $150.00 to $1,500.00, and possibly much more.
What is lacquer paint process versus other kinds of paint and do you do it?
Lacquer paints are no longer legal to use in this area because of the effect that they have on the air quality. The paint we use is a waterborne base coat (the color coat) with a urethane enamel clear coat.
“I used to get my car serviced at Carlsen Audi and their body shop came highly recommended. So when a careless driver dented my fender I headed over to Carlsen. Despite Carlsen being in Palo Alto it was worth the detour. Their work is flawless—they blended the paint nicely and you can’t notice that the fender has been resprayed. The staff is friendly and since I didn’t need a rental, they dropped me off and picked me up from the train station.”
Kiran G. | San Francisco, CA