“In the last 17 years, by far, it’s been probably one of the busiest years,” said Wayne Boocher, owner of Boocher’s Body Shop in South Bend, IN. “I hate to say it, but it’s been a great year for people crashing,” he told local media.
“There’s not a shop around that doesn’t have some type of work coming in and out the door.”
There’s been a lot of collisions, he said, not to mention people damaging their cars from potholes.
Damage underneath can also come from snow that has turned rock-hard after melting and freezing again, said Greg Barth, president of Barry’s Seat Cover, Auto Body, and Glass in South Bend.
“This time of year we see more suspension damage than the summer because the snow is so hard and icy now. When you hit it, it’s like hitting a curb, cement, or a small tree,” Barth told the South Bend Tribune.
Today’s cars have a lot of plastic shields underneath, Barth said, which make the car more aerodynamic, while also protecting the car engine from road realities.
“You get a lot of that broken off this time of year because of the snow,” said Barth, adding that accidents change as winter progresses.
“Early in the year, it’s tough for people to drive on snow again,” said Barth. “There’s always a big increase in accidents with the first snow around Thanksgiving, and then people start to drive more cautiously,” he said. “Right now we are seeing more slide-offs, more so than car-to-car accidents. More slide-offs and rear-end collisions where people can’t stop is what’s going on right now.”
Trucks are not immune to weather accidents, noted Mike Mills, vice president of Jefferson Auto Collision Service in Mishawaka, IN.
“We just had a really large Dodge 250 diesel pickup roll in that was a roll-over,” Mills said. “He just lost control on black ice and flipped it over in a ditch.” He said that he has seen vehicles big and small brought in. “There’s really no consistency with anything,” he said, including the type of damage. The only consistent thing is how busy he is, usually a couple of days after a major snowstorm, he said.
People will come in and say that they need an estimate right away, he said. But often there’s four people ahead of them. The snow keeps coming, and so do the repairs.
“We’re always busy in the winter,” Barth said.
“People drive crazy.”