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Old 01-20-2010, 11:36 AM   #1
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TJ Wrecked. Need advice.

This past Monday I was in an accident, a young kid coming from the opposite direction attempted to turn in front of me while I was traveling down the highway. Needless to say, there was no time to hit the brakes and his vehicle was totaled. I've posted pictures (or attempted to) of my damage. I have several questions I'd like help with if anyone can take a moment to answer.

I've never dealt with an insurance company before involving a wreck, so is there anything I need to know before an adjuster comes? Hint's or advice in dealing with this? I'd like to have the Jeep repaired, and depending on the damage, I think it can. I'm not sure if the frame has suffered any bends or whatever that would throw up a major flag. I'm worried that they will total the Jeep out and I could loose it. If they do total it and the all it is is visual (replacing fenders, grill, bumper, steering, paint, etc....) I'd like to get it back to fix it. Or at least get my aftermarket stuff off of it to start another Jeep. Most damage looks cosmetic, The engine starts and runs, the radiator is actually intact, but the steering rods will all need to be replaced and a front end alignment will need to be done. I was able to drive it away but as I said, the steering is shot. I'm not sure what else to look for on that. I haven't touched it yet as I'm waiting for the Adjuster to return my call.
I'm going to look up the book value and also look around at local dealers to get prices on Jeeps in the same year and class just to have some numbers if I need them. The Jeep was a 60th Ann. Special Edition but I don't know if that adds any more value to it or not. The front bumper (God bless that front bumper!!!) was factory so should I push for factory or aftermarket? what about replacement body parts?
Also, I'd like to replace the hood with an aftermarket one that has some type of scoop so it can dissipate the heat from the engine compartment better. anyone with A TJ knows how hot it get's in the summer.
The airbag NEVER deployed on me. I've heard that was a good thing since replacing an airbag cost quite a bit, but I was doing 45MPH, I would have thought it should. Is there a way to check why this didn't happen?

the only light that was broken was the fog light. no headlights or turn signals were ever damaged. again, Thank God for that front bumper!

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Old 01-20-2010, 11:54 AM   #2
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well my friend totaled his 03"X" wrangler 2 weeks ago(hit a pole). your dosent look quiet as bad, but still not good, id say as long as the fram is good they wont total it, but my friend go back $11,400!!! His jeep was built up real good is why he got so much money back

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Old 01-20-2010, 12:15 PM   #3
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well my friend totaled his 03"X" wrangler 2 weeks ago(hit a pole). your dosent look quiet as bad, but still not good, id say as long as the fram is good they wont total it, but my friend go back $11,400!!! His jeep was built up real good is why he got so much money back
I've been told that they will go up to 50% of the value of the vehicle, anything more and they total it. Also, what they offer a person to begin with is a lowball number. for example, many years ago my wife's car was hit in a parking lot. Not much damage was done but the vehicle rolled down a hill and crashed through some wooded area. Even when they pulled it out, it didn't look bad, just some dents and scratches. It looked better than some vehicles I see running the roads today. anyway, her insurance company totaled it and only offered her $3000 for it. that didn't even cover payoff. she asked where they got that number and they stated that they had looked up the book value and also called around to see what a used one would cost if she was to buy another one. they would not tell her where they called or what "book value" they went by. so, she did exactly what they did, she got two different book values, called around and found three dealers with the same make/models and got quotes. she presented this info to the insurance company, which came up to be $7500 dollars, and they paid her that. It covered her payoff and had a very little to put down on another vehicle.
She thought about recovering the vehicle and driving as it was, but it had been a lemon (she bought it brand new) so in the end she was glad to be rid of it.

I've never dealt with an insurance company before but from what I've heard, it's not the same as in commercials.

I've also been told to save any and all receipts for anything that has been purchased for the vehicle in the past year or two. that adds value to the vehicle which you can present to make the value higher. Not sure if this is true. I have no idea what they go by.

I'd like to get it repaired like it was, even better and maybe pay some out of pocket (another type of hood) instead of someone just writing it off. I have a love/hate relation with my Jeep, not ready to let her go yet....
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Old 01-20-2010, 12:42 PM   #4
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To start off glad to hear you are ok.

Let them do their thing and come up with a low ball offer. Then get a well known body shop to inspect it and give an estimate for repairs. Do not let them give you quoates for used parts. Give the ins adjuster your estimate as well as every single receit that you can find for what you have spent on the jeep. If totaled take check and buy back. Part it out and make a killing in parts and put all $ towards a real nice rig. If its not totaled....play hard ball, get a check that you are happy with and spend the $ building it the way you want. It sucks to see another 60th go down. But if it is totaled and you decide to part please sell me the 60th badges....I could use a spare or 2.
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Old 01-20-2010, 01:25 PM   #5
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Also glad to hear your okay. I had this happen with a Ford pickup not too long ago. I thought the damage looked repairable, but they look at cost of repair, not possibility of repair. She asked me on the phone if the radiator was cracked, and said if it was, they would most likely total it out. It was, and they did.

I was offered either $7000 to total the truck, or $3500 if I wanted to keep the truck and fix it myself, BUT, the insurance company would report the collision to the DMV as "totaled" and I would for ever after have a "salvaged" title. That kills resell value, so I let them total it.
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Old 01-20-2010, 06:51 PM   #6
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Just keep it how it is and tell all your friends you slammed into a tree while wheeling

Seriously though... just from what I'm seeing based on the pics, you should have no issues with them trying to total it out. I believe they are required to replace everything with OEM parts...unless you approve of them using aftermarket parts (if they're cheaper for them...they aren't gonna pay extra for an aftermarket bumper if you can get a factory one for half the price). So if you want your OEM parts back, you make it clear that you don't want them doing a half assed repair job. If you find a bumper that's cheaper than an OEM one, let them know...and they may be willing to work with you on that.

Also make sure you take it to a few body shops and get some estimates done...and don't let them force you to take it to a bodyshop that has a reputation for half assed work. I'm not sure how the laws are in your area, but I believe here you have the right to choose what bodyshop does your repairs.
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Old 01-20-2010, 07:51 PM   #7
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Also keep in mind that you can claim diminished value..... Lots of folks forget that I think.
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Old 01-20-2010, 09:05 PM   #8
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In the state of MI the damage has to be <70% to value for total. Regarding the salvage title issue, if they choose not to fix it and total it out you can choose to keep you can option to buy back for a very small amount and keep the jeep. As long as you keep the jeep as a direct buy back the title will never change from green to orange (clean to salvage).

In most cases you can fix the auto for much less then the amount they give you for the total minus the buy back and in the end wind up with a much better rig built exactly the way you want it.
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Old 01-20-2010, 09:31 PM   #9
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Had mine hit by a semi. If they go the total route, make sure they get like values from Jeep dealers, not from joe's auto sales. Also did you have a rider for the extra's you added?
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Old 01-20-2010, 09:37 PM   #10
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Frame is bent in the front, they are probably going to total it. I'd buy it back and cut the front off and tube it.
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Old 01-20-2010, 09:41 PM   #11
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My experience is that the insurance companies will let you pick a shop and the shop will fix it up for you and the insurance company will pay the shop directly. Make sure you get a rental car from them. The local body shop kept my Dakota for 2 months, turned out they were waiting for the "Dodge" sticker for the tailgate. I was driving a rental car courtesy of State Farm. Another tip is to go see a doctor. Not only to make sure you're okay, but you'll also get a pain and suffering offer. That's where you makes your $$ for your inconvenience (and sore neck if you were going 45).
And x2 on no salvage title if you buy back directly.
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Old 01-20-2010, 09:42 PM   #12
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Yeah, the frame is bent in the front. I would sell to get money for another one..
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Old 01-20-2010, 10:48 PM   #13
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Okay...I didn't realize the frame was bent...so scratch what I'd said. I see it now...thought the bumper was just tweaked, but forgot that's where it's attached to the frame.
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Old 01-21-2010, 01:47 AM   #14
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All right, I think it's time for the resident *former* insurance adjustor to step in and try to clarify.

First off, in terms of the damage: the sub-frame up front is mangled pretty good. Translate: radiator support is shot, as the radiator likely is as well. I'd bet dimes to dollars you've got a nice diagonal bow in that bad boy, and even if it's holding coolant right now, it'll bust on those wonderful Chrysler metal/plastic seams soon enough.

You *probably* have a bit of frame damage on the left front rail. However, that part of the frame rail can be straightened fairly easily and/or sectioned quite safely if done at a good shop. Since it was a bit of an off-angle blow, there could be some diamond to the frame. Again, easily pulled out to factory specs. The big problem with the frame section is that the motor would have to be pulled, and you could have some bent motor mounts, etc. That could get a bit costly on the labor costs.

The rest of the damage I can see in those pictures (which are great for this kind of assessment, you would be the insurance industries Ansel Adams there) is limited to the front clip. Take a look around the rig at the gaps between moving body parts. If they line up fine, you're good. If not, the impact energy could have traveled further throughout the vehicle, and there could be more damage that's not readily visible to the naked eye. It actually looks like the grille might be OK, which is again indicative that the bulk of the damage stayed within the sub frame.

You are lucky the bags didn't blow... typically Chrysler vehicles require a complete dash replacement when the bags go.

Take the time now to get together documentation on anything and everything you've got that's aftermarket. To get an idea of what your rig would be worth, check out the NADA book value. It's as legit as any of these online listings get. If you've got a boatload of upgrades (which I'm not seeing in these pictures), then you'd want to get quotes from dealerships on the rig's value.

South Carolina has a 75% rule on salvage. If the damage is more than 75% of a vehicle's value, the title automatically has to be branded. From the looks of these pictures, I'd say that's unlikely. I've had Wranglers suffer multiple rollovers and not total. Also, if the salvage value (obtained by the insurance company, as quoted by local salvage vendors), is high, then it could total. The basic formula is Book Value - Salvage Value = total loss threshold.

As for what to expect from the process... it varies a bit from company to company. If you PM me with the name of said evildoers that you're dealing with, I might be able to offer some insight as to what to expect from that particular brand name.

The adjustor will come to your place because there's a chance it could total. He/she will write a preliminary estimate where it sits. Based on this, an initial total loss decision will be made, and they should give you an idea right there of the verdict. If they think it's repairable, they'll offer to let you go to a shop of your choice or to go with one of their shops. The upside to going with a shop they work with is that they'll give you a lifetime guarantee on the repairs, regardless of where you may ever go with the rig. As long as you own it, they'll fix any defects with the repairs. Really, that's not a bad option for you. There's still always the chance with that route that more damage could be found once it's torn down, and it could total. Not likely, but possible.

The insurance company owes to restore you to pre-loss conditions. That means that if you want to add more aftermarket parts, they'll probably go for it, as long as it's not more expensive than OEM. They owe you for the loss of use of your vehicle (translate: rental car). If the adjustor that shows up at your place is any good, they'll be under, in, and all around your rig looking for anything and everything that could reasonably be related to this accident. Also, they should write for a good front-end alignment to make sure the suspension is straight.

Well, that's all I can think of right now. I've been out of that game for a minute, but hit me up if you have any more questions.
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Old 01-21-2010, 01:53 AM   #15
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how is the life of a insurance claims adjuster? I feel like alot of people would hate you. Im seriously just wondering, but i guess it might also depend on your insurance company
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Old 01-21-2010, 01:58 AM   #16
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haha yeah... it was hard on the soul some days, but good others. Always interesting, ever the challenge, and I never went to bed wondering if I was the dumbest man alive

Then, one day, I had this brilliant idea: join the army and go to war! Well, we see now how that worked out....

It was a job, just like any other. Ups and downs, but I'll leave it at this: I had more guns aimed at me in the backwoods of southwest Virginia than I saw in Tikrit. Ah, well, it's a different fight these days....
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Old 01-21-2010, 10:35 AM   #17
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hea if you have to replace the frontend you said you were looking for a hood with a scoop??? its a jeep not a honda lookinto the AEV highline kit new fenders, hood (with heat vents) and flares. all things that by the looks of it you may need to replace
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Old 01-21-2010, 12:02 PM   #18
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The jeep looks like it got a fresh wash and wax right before the accident
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Old 01-21-2010, 12:39 PM   #19
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If the damage is more than 75% of a vehicle's value, the title automatically has to be branded.
I am not sure of the percentage here in California, but that is exactly what the adjuster here said to me ... if the damage is above a certain percent of the value of the car, the title WILL be branded as "salvage" no matter how you arrange the buy back. (Thanks for the excellent info, VARedLeg82)
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Old 01-21-2010, 06:25 PM   #20
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Just because a vehicles frame has damage never means that the vehicle will be totaled, that is a commom misconception. Body shops make their money straightening out, sectioning, and in some cases replacing intire vehicle frames. From the pictures I would see no reason why they would total your jeep, the bulky bumper on your jeep has alot to do with why your bags did not blow, compare your front end to the front end on a camry...the camrys bags definatley would have blown at 45 mph.
VAred82 hit the nail on the head with what all he had to say. Good luck and find a reputible shop that does good work, and if they use aftermarket parts make sure they leave the RDOT label on them.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:55 PM   #21
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Also keep in mind that you can claim diminished value..... Lots of folks forget that I think.
dimunition of value is a very specific claim that is available in only a few states (Georgia is the most prominent one), usually based on case law.

Also, as far as parts selection, remember, the key phrase is "pre-loss condition." That's where they owe to get you back to. Translate: every part on your car is used right now, so they can also use certified used parts in the repair. Just another reason to go with a shop that they can give you a lifetime guarantee on the repairs from. Also, remember the phrase "Like kind and quality." Parts of that flavor are, by law, allowed in the repair process. That means both aftemarket and used, as long as they are of like kind and quality.

I know I'm not in the business anymore, but I do still get a bit defensive. Remember: it's a business. If they can't make some money, they can't stay in business, so there has to be some sort of cost control on their part. They only owe you monetarily, what it would reasonably take to restore you to pre-loss condition. No matter what argument you can come up with about how you might be victimized by the repair process, they've heard it before. Get a guarantee in writing.

Hey, I'm not saying they always make the best decisions, but 99% of the people in the biz aren't out to screw you. They want to get your rig repaired quickly and effectively, so you can be off their desk and satisfied with the repairs.
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Old 01-21-2010, 09:54 PM   #22
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I get pretty defensive about it as well...alot of people freak when it comes to frame straightning, and repairing body panels. Most people think if a frame gets tweaked the entire vehicle is scrap metal..lol not the case at all. And when it comes to straightning body panels and useing body filler the vehicle is a bondo bucket... I understand if you dont understand the repair process it can be confusing exactly what they are doing to your vehicle . But if you go to a reputable shop you will be in good hands. I work for a very good shop and we laser align all of our frame work that we do, never use over 1/16 of filler and use all proper refinishing techniques. Trust a good shop and you will be in good hands
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:24 PM   #23
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exactly. couldn't have said it better myself.
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Old 01-22-2010, 06:24 AM   #24
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My Jeep had a similar accident a couple of years ago and the airbags deployed. I had stock front bumper; pinched hood and fender; and slight grill damage. I had liability insurance so I was on the hook as my son pulled in front of a turning car. Speed of the accident was about 10-15mph told by witnesses but both cars airbags deployed. Cost of other damage was $1500 and the airbags was $4000 by Dodge dealer.
I did the work myself bought the airbags and control module on ebay and had a local mechanic install.
If you have frame damage, make sure they compesate for how the clssified add will read when you go to sell it.
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Old 01-22-2010, 11:02 AM   #25
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I went through this with my 99 Durango. The insurance adjuster estimated the repair at 3600 and after fighting with them and providing proof a couple options on the vehicle, the value was set at around 4300. The actual damage was cosmetic and not that bad. The adjuster over estimated. Buy back in NJ was only 500.00 which was a no brainer. I had lots of parts on the truck so if I wanted to part it I would have made money. I believe I ended up with around 3500 in pocket from the totaled pay out. I took it to a body shop that had done good work for me before and told them it was an out of pocket repair and not an insurance claim. If it is a calim, they would gladly take all the mone the company pays you. They fixed it beautifuly for 2600. I still had to buy a couple items myself such as fog lights but I ended up with a few hundred in pocket. The insurance company just need proof of repair and a couple pictures from an authorized place and I have full coverage at the same rates. Per an email from the insurance company, the vehicle value is not affected by the payout. If it were totaled again, It would be paid out again. In NJ there is no salvage title on a vehicle over 7 or 8 years old. I would not have cared because I'm keeping it.
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Old 01-23-2010, 04:30 AM   #26
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If they try and total it you can always request a lesser value to keep the title clean and just repair it yourself.
Have the frame checked out first to be sure it's OK. Then just buy what you need either new or used and rebuild it.
I'm kicking myself for not doing this a couple years ago. I could have actually made money on the deal.
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Old 01-25-2010, 06:33 PM   #27
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If the insurance company totals it, buy it back. Just don't say your interested in buying it back until you here from them.

I bought an 2004 that was hit in the front, no frame damage tho. I bought after market CAPA rated parts and put it back together. Paid $4,500 for the Jeep and spent $1,400 in parts and supplies to put it back on the road(trail), NADA $15K. My plan is to use it mostly for adventures not as a daily driver so I'm not worried if it gets a scratch.
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:11 PM   #28
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Bent frame easy fix

I just finished a repair on a 97 Sahara with a bent frame on the driver side. I went to a junk yard and bought the front half of a tj frame. Measured. cut and welded it together. 200 bucks for the frame. Piece of cake. Just be sure you have the welding skills or can have someone do it for you. You will want to "stitch weld" short welds to prevent warpage and afterwards weld some channel over the top to bridge the weld. Good luck.
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Old 01-30-2010, 10:18 AM   #29
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What about the other party involved?

I skimmed through this thread and didn't see any mention of the other party (young kid), maybe I just missed it? I don't have the whole story, but is this individual responsable for the accident? With all the talk about how much the vehicle's worth now, salvage title, body shop, etc. it's obvious that $ is of concern. If it's the other party's fault, than there should be some more $ for the damages I would think. Just my .02.
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Old 02-11-2010, 01:54 PM   #30
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Well, took them two weeks to come get the damn thing, but they did. Apparently, the kid that caused the damage never called in his insurance company to give his statement. I did mine less than 24 hours.

Anyway, I had time to crawl around to see the damage. Unfortunately, there was damage to the frame which resulted in in a motor mount breaking. It broke off from the engine (cast) side so....that's that.
They put it in the shop and I awaited the news. I got the call that they would total it, so I ask how much. He told me how they go about figuring out and that he would get back with me one that was done. I told him I wanted to buy it back, so go ahead and run the numbers for that as well.

That was all on a Friday afternoon. Got a call back the next Monday or Tuesday and he gave me a number for it's worth, and an estimate for repairs, and stated they it could be fixed. They would replace the engine and fix all other damages. I would have preferred to have gotten the check and bought another one, but......

Someone who posted earlier hit the nail on the head, SC does 70% to 75%.
They quoted the price at 11K totaled. They brought the price in at around 7k to fix.

I've ask what the warranty is for such, and the replacement engine will be used with a 12 month, 12000 mile warranty. I get my old engine back for free.
I know my original engine was treated well so at least I'll have that. I can't tell whether I'm happy or not, more concerned than anything because there was frame damage (obviously) and everyone I've spoken with has had nothing but problems with a vehicle after frame damage.

So, any words of wisdom on this? Anything I should look for after I get it back?

Also, anyone know where I can get a used AEV Heat reduction hood for the TJ series Jeeps?

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