What do I do if my car gets keyed?

keyedWe like to keep a tally in our workshop, on the causes of minor car body damage. Supermarket carparks score pretty high up on the list, as does reversing into your own gatepost! But we’ve seen a concerning increase in key damage in recent months – that is damage caused by a deliberate act on vandalism or revenge. This increase reflects the national jump in car vandalism by 10% – with approximately 200,000 vehicles suffering every year.

“Keying” is not always done with a key – sometimes a knife or screwdriver is used. It often leaves a car with long single scratches across several panels of bodywork, often the doors, wings and quarter panels that are closest to the pavement as the perpetrator walks past. Key damage generally fits into three categories:

  1. Stranger vandalism.  The perpetrator was not known to the victim or vice versa. Often several cars can be damaged in one attack. Perpetrators are often under the influence or alcohol or loners with mental or social issues. Some have been known to vandalise their own vehicles at the same time.
  2. In response to you as a driver. Did you park across someone’s driveway? Cut across someone when overtaking? Or park in a disabled space when you didn’t need it? Minor mistakes can lead to costly repairs if you ruffle the feathers of someone with a taste for criminal damage.
  3. In response to you as a person.  You may suspect ex-partners or people close to you that you may have upset. Your car might be something you are seen to value – and the perpetrator may be attempting to cause distress or inconvenience or both. The keyer may also be jealous or angry about your car ownership.

CONTACTING THE POLICE

Unless you are afraid for your safety and/or witnessing the crime taking place, don’t call 999. You can report most crimes like this online. If you suspect stranger vandalism and the police are made aware, they might spot a pattern. Last year we received a high number of key repair enquiries from three neighbouring streets in Stroud. We encouraged everyone to contact the police, and they eventually got involved and the vandalism appears to have stopped in this area.

MAKING AN INSURANCE CLAIM

Some insurance companies have specific vandalism clauses, which means making a claim does not lose you a no-claims-bonus. Keying damage across several panels rarely comes in under your insurance excess, so insurance might be a good route to explore. Some insurance companies, however, do not cover vandalism at all. Try and find out first whether making a claim is worth it, before filing the claim itself.

SEEKING SUPPORT

In most cases this kind of vandalism is carried out by strangers. But if you feel you are being targeted personally for any reason – don’t suffer in silence – try and get support from local community groups. Talk to friends and family about it. The police may also be able to offer advice. Taking revenge rarely leads to the problem going away – in fact it can escalate the matter.

GETTING IT REPAIRED

See my article on Is It REALLY worth have the scratch on my car fixed? This will help you to assess whether it is worth getting the vehicle repaired. There are a few considerations – if it is a lease car, or if you are about to sell the car, and what the car is worth will help you to decide. My article should help. With key damage, it is very unlikely that the scratch will be “polished” out or disguised with coloured wax (despite claims by some companies). But if you decide to go ahead with a full repair, you might not need to go to a body shop. “Smart” repairers, like ChipsAway can often fix the damage at a fraction of the cost. When you are comparing quotes, make sure you check if the repairs are guaranteed, how long the repair will take and whether there are other factors, such as if a courtesy car is on offer.

As spring arrives and our spirits rise, we are hoping to see a decline in stranger vandalism – but we remain vigilant to spot patterns and will continue to support and advise our customers when needed. If you would like any advice about your damaged car, please feel free to drop me a line here on LinkedIn on our Facebook group.

Is it REALLY worth having that scratch on my car fixed?

 

woman with carI wrote the article below early in the year and it has received a great response, so I thought that it would be a good idea to share it here again!

Is it REALLY worth having that scratch on my car fixed?

The answer depends on your circumstances. I always like to give an honest answer when customers pose this question, so here are a few scenarios to help you decide.

You should get the scratch fixed if you use your car for business. Many commercial fleet managers take great care in ensuring staff vehicles look their best. Although I don’t, people WILL judge your professional (and sometimes personal) standards by the state of your vehicle. It’s part of your brand. A well known courier company uses ChipsAway – they understand that delivering parcels in a scraped van gives the impression they are careless.

You should prioritise broken paintwork on metal – which is generally anywhere except your front and rear bumpers (which are usually plastic). Left untouched, the weather and salty roads can cause rust to set in to damaged steel panels. Once corrosion has taken hold, it is costly and specialist to repair. I don’t work on corroded damage – as although the repair might look perfect at first, within months the rust comes back. It generally needs to be cut or ground out. In worst case scenarios it can lead to MOT failures.

If you are returning a car at the end of it’s lease, it is worth getting estimates for any body work repairs – including alloy wheels scratches. At the same time, you might ask your lease company for a “Schedule of Charges” to check whether their charges are more than the cost of a repair. They often are (although alloy wheels vary the most) – so it is worth booking in a repair if the lease company would charge you more not to.

You should definitely think carefully about getting any damage fixed if you are selling your car. You might not get the value of the repair back in the asking price, but if someone has a choice between buying a car without damage and one with, I know which one I’d chose. A scuffed car might also give the impression that it has been mechanically neglected too – even if that’s not true. However, bear in mind that a simple bumper scratch repair from us starts at £165 + VAT. If you are selling your car for less than £1000, it probably won’t make a difference.

If the damage is ruining your enjoyment you might want to consider a repair. Many of our customers love their cars, and even the smallest dent causes them distress. It’s amazing how many people reverse into their own gateposts in their brand new pride and joy car. Having spent thousands on their cherished asset, many of our customers feel a few hundred more to put right a small mistake usually worth it.

If someone else has caused the damage, and offers to pay, you should accept. Some people chose not to, as they mistakenly think it involves a lot of hassle. We can collect the car from your house, leaving a courtesy car with you, and in most instances, return it to you the same day, fixed. The inconvenience is minimal. Nearly all of our work comes in under most people’s insurance thresholds – so there is no need for lengthy negotiation with an insurance company. Furthermore, you can also usually get other damage fixed at the same time, at a discount.

When not to get the work done? 

  • Don’t book in a repair if you car is about to go for an MOT and you suspect it has problems. There is no point in a great looking car, if you can’t drive it anywhere!
  • Don’t book a repair if you can’t afford it – unless it will cost you more not to (e.g. a lease return). If money is tight, make sure you are getting value for money from your repairer – ask if there is a life-time guarantee with the work (like we offer). Our prices are pretty set, but you can always ask if there are any special offers or for payment terms.
  • Most people wouldn’t fix damage if the repair costs more than the car is worth, but that said, we have a few customers who love their mechanically sound cars so much, and have grown attached to them, so they feel it is worth it.

Hopefully I have covered most scenarios – but if I haven’t feel free to get in touch. Both me and my husband, Jim offer free guidance and estimates – we are always happy to advise you. Call us on 07535521198.

Caroline