What's the Difference? Auto Body Shop vs. Auto Repair Shop

Hi All, Rico here!

Have you ever stopped to think about the difference between what an auto mechanic or repair shop would do, and what an auto body shop does?

Until you’re faced with the need of either, I’m sure the answer would be "no". (I mean, c’mon, it’s not like most of us sitting around daydreaming about this stuff in our spare time.)

Understand for the future

This information is important to know and understand, in the event you do find yourself in need of auto body work.

Lucky you—I’ll give you a quick lesson on what auto body work actually is, and when you would seek out a shop, like mine, to do the needed work.

So, what exactly does an auto body shop do?

It’s pretty simple to explain. We fix the bodies, the metal frame and components that house and protect the people, the engine, all the parts and things, on vehicles. Ok, that may sound simple, but the art of it is actually very complicated and important.

Body work means more than just making a car look pretty.

An auto body shop ensures the entirety of your car’s body is aligned and in tip top shape. This work really is all about the details! Trucks, SUVs are also welcome to the shop.

When do you need to go to an auto body shop?

Had a bump, slam or major ding? Even a slight bump can shift the body of your car. It could be a panel, bumper, fender or something you can’t see hiding underneath.

A shift, bend or knock to any of these areas can create misalignment and ultimately compromise the safety or integrity of the body of your car.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my lesson, and this has helped to clarify when you could be in need of an auto body repair shop in the future.

As always, we care about the safety of you and your vehicle, and we're always here to help!

Kid's Cars: Body Work & Clean Up While They Are Home from College

Hello and Happy New Year to All! 

Rico here!

I bet if you have a son or daughter away at college, you’ve found yourself thinking about their car at least a time or two.

Are they taking care of it? You’re not alone. I thought about my daughters while they were at school. And let’s be honest, they’re likely not 100% on track with these tasks because they’re busy on this new venture of independence and school.

That’s ok. It's a perfect time to plan to help them out a bit with these “to-do’s” when they’re home on break over the holidays.

Bring their car by for an estimate if there's been any auto body damage in the recent months. Door dings, bent bumpers, side mirror damage. 

And, schedule a nice detail job for their car too. A good exterior wash and interior clean will do a world of good. The kids will feel great in their vehicle and you'll feel great knowing you've got some good protective wax for the paint and a nice clean interior too. 

Take their car to Tom's Automotive, just down the street from us, for complementary services to ours. More along the lines of automotive maintenance, like:

  • Oil changes

  • Windshield washer fluids and new wiper blades

  • Power steering fluid check

  • Brake fluid check

It’s also a good idea to check to make sure that the emergency necessities in the car are stocked up. These are things like a first aid kit, bottled water, tire pressure gauge, flashlight with fresh batteries, etc.

By keeping up on this timeline, it helps to keep the car in tip top shape structurally, but also ensures the utmost safety for your son/daughter.

Car Prowls During the Holiday Season

Hi All, Rico here!


Well, it’s hard to believe we are now officially in the middle of the holiday season!


Some of us are spending a little more time on the roads, and our cars are in parking lots or different neighborhoods while shopping or out socializing.


Unfortunately, there are lots of prowlers keeping an eye out for cars that have something of value in them. Let’s talk about how to keep you, your car, and your items safe!


Lock and alarm your car

Pretty simple, right? Well it’s easy to forget when you’re shuffling around. Take an extra second to make sure you’ve locked up!


Keep it clean

The less items out in your car that are of valuable and visible to people, the better!


If you’ve shopped, hide the items before you park at the next location.


Sometimes prowlers are sitting in parking lots and keeping an eye out for someone who obviously has items in their car.


Park in the open

Even if it means a few extra steps—park somewhere where your car is clearly visibly to bystanders. Steer clear of heavy foliage or large cars that might hide your car.


At the end of the day there’s no sure-fire way to prevent someone who is deadset on getting in your vehicle. But, by following these simple steps above, it will certainly lessen the likelihood of your car being the target!


Have a merry season, everyone!

Prepping for Holiday Road Trips

Hi All, Rico here!


It goes without saying, but I'm gonna say it.


A big reason that we are in business is because of the need for auto body work in West Seattle. This, of course, is a result of fender benders and accidents with vehicles. And we definitely appreciate that you, our customer, trust us with your cars after these accidents!


Precious cargo

At the same time, we want for you to be safe; both while driving and in arriving at your final destination. As the holidays approach, more and more people will be hitting the road to visit family and friends.


That means more cars on the road, longer distances traveled, and in turn more chances for an accident. So, we wanted to arm you with some safe driving practices before you hit the road this holiday season.


Be prepared.

  • Are you anticipating icy or snowy roads? Bring chains! (Make sure you know how to use them before you hit the road.)
  • When is the last time you had your car serviced? Make sure you’re up to date on all service needs. (Think oil, brakes/hoses, battery, tires & antifreeze fluid.)
  • Do you have a pack of safety items? Put one together! (Think flashlight, blanket, water, flares, etc.)


Plan your route ahead of time.

Plan ahead for the best route possible. This could mean the shortest route, or possibly a longer route that might avoid major traffic or bad weather conditions. Either way, be prepared for what that route might bring.


Get some sleep.

I know, it sounds so basic! Being well rested is so important for a long trek. It helps you to be on top of your game and be able to be alert and have quicker responses times. We all know those yawns and heavy eyes that come after a restless night—and they’re not safe when operating a vehicle. (Especially on longer trips!)



Especially when planning a long trip, it’s important to try to stay as relaxed as possible. No, we’re not talking about kicking your feet up and zoning out. Loosen those shoulders up, take deep breaths, and make sure you’re in a healthy head/body space for the long trek.


All of these things will start you off on the best possible foot for your long trips over the holidays. Of course, these are good things to be mindful of even outside of the holiday season! We're here if or when you need us.... just take a little time to make sure you’re all set before you set out for festive fun this year!

Light Checks for Night Driving

Hi all—Rico here!

That time of year is here—Fall has arrived and Summer is officially in our rear-view mirror. And days, sad to say, are getting shorter.


For our shop, that means we start to see more damaged cars and trucks in as a result of bumps and crashes that take place during darker and/or rainy times. With that said, it's important to talk about the importance of headlights and safety for driving in these darker conditions.


See and be seen!

To see, and be seen, are two of the most important things when driving. Since you’re the one primarily driving your own vehicle, it’s easy to forget to make sure the lights on your vehicle are working properly. All of these lights have a purpose, and each are a piece of ensuring the safety of the car you’re in, as well as all of the cars around.


When I say lights…I mean all lights!

Lights don’t just mean your head and tail lights. It means every light on the exterior of your vehicle. When doing a check, be sure you check all of these:


  • Headlights
  • Brights
  • Fog lights
  • Tail lights
  • Brakes
  • Turn signals


How to check your lights when you’re alone:

Turn on your full lights and walk around your car. Then one by one turn on your left and right turn signal. Lastly, turn on your hazard lights to ensure they work. You can even test your head and tail lights while facing toward, or backing up to the window of a building.


If you do find yourself in a fender bender, take a deep breath!


Your vehicle can be towed to our shop and we can help you to get everything taken care of; including insurance, body work and getting your car back in a safe state to hit the road again!



Front-End Auto Body Repairs: Subaru BRZ

Time to highlight some exciting work going on this month in our shop. We have this Subaru BRZ that had a little front end run-in and needed some TLC to fix it, and bring it back to life.


Painting cars requires a process. Lots of prep work, taping, covering areas that need to be protected and then layering the paint for the perfect finish. Here are some shots of bumper removed from the car and being painted separately to ensure every inch is covered.


After it makes its way through all of the steps, we end with a car with no visual spec of the damage that was once there.


We still have a few bits to complete, yes, including replacing the bumper back on, polish it up and then it'll be ready to hit the road again. Bring your car to Auto Buff if you meet someone by accident.


Car Accidents & What You Need to Know

Hi All, Rico here again -

Today, I want to talk with you about something we all do everything in our power to avoid—getting into a car accident! This should be something we think about, talk about, and be prepared for. By being prepared for the worst-case scenario, an accident happening, it helps to ensure that you have the best possible outcome in a difficult and scary time.

Here are some things to remember if you find yourself a part of an accident, whether it was caused by you or not.

  • Make sure if at all possible that you are in a safe area that is clear from any traffic
  • Check on any other parties involved in the accident
  • Call the police
  • Take a look to see if there were any eyewitnesses. (If so, ask if they will provide their contact information.
  • Take photos of the vehicles involved. (This can be helpful later for insurance purposes.)
  • Gather information from any other parties involved. (This would include names, insurance information, license plate number, location of accident, make/models of any vehicles involved and the information of any responding law enforcement.
  • File a claim to your insurance company
  • Have car towed to your trusted auto body shop

If this was an accident where others were involved, make sure to take some time to survey the people and make sure everyone is alright. (This includes yourself!)

Shock and adrenaline often take over in accidents and we forget to just breathe and make sure we’re alright.

Also, remember that the injuries sustained in an accident can take a bit of time to reveal themselves. Be aware of how you’re feeling in the days following the accident as well. Being thoughtful with how you handle the steps following an accident is very important.

Definitely get checked out by your health care provider if you're uncomfortable, feeling pain, feeling "woozy". Best to get checked out sooner than later, always.

Try to remember that it’s a process, and finding the right team to help you along the path can also help.

Have an auto body shop that you trust picked out that you trust.
Have an insurance firm that is reliable and trustworthy.

Having the right team can be very helpful in the steps following the accident. Often, once the car is brought to the shop and claim opened with your insurance, you won’t have to deal with insurance or other related functions again. Your team will handle it for you.

Auto Details Matter: Wax to Protect

The sun is nearly peeking out, and in the shop, if feels like we're are all ready to dive into all of those activities we’ve been missing while enduring the winter and rainy months!

With the temperature rising (hopefully soon!), comes different wear and tear on everything. The sun and warmth doesn’t just affect us and our yards, it plays a role in everything we do ...and drive.

Those rising temps create an environment that is extra hard on your car or truck.

Wondering what you can do to help prepare your car for warmer months?

Adding back a layer of protection is a great idea. 

We're talking about wax.
But before we can apply and buff a beautiful, shiny, protective coat of wax, we'll need to give the vehicle a good wash first. 

Yes, inside as well as out. Might as well make it a good -and thorough- job. 

Consider it a kind of Spring Cleaning for your car. It's a great time to wash, refresh and protect your vehicle. 


Spring Safety Checklist for Your Family Vehicles

Hi All—Rico here!

Spring has arrived! I know you’ve got to be as excited as I am that the sun is back, and we can crawl out of our winter hiding to enjoy the great outdoors!

With the weather being better, it’s easier to hop in your car for a quick (or long) trip to explore.

Taking a little time to make sure your car is ready for that trip can save you headaches and high repair costs in the long run.

Here are some things to check, in order to maintain your car this Spring:

  • Tire pressure. You can use a tire pressure gauge to check your tire pressure wherever you are. Keep one handy in your glove box or side panel pocket to check your tires when you add gas at a service station.Research what levels your tires should be at, and ensure they’re within the limits.

  • Tire treads. Your local tire shop can check your tread to ensure it’s within a safe range. You can even find tips online for checking it yourself with a penny if you’re feeling brave! And if you’re feeling brave , here’s a link to do the penny test.

  • Alignment and suspension. Stop by your local tire shop to have your alignment and suspension checked. Lots of shops will check it for a nominal fee.

  • Wiper Blades. Are your wiper blades leaving streaks or not wiping the windshield clean? Pick up a new pair to keep your vision of the road optimal. Takes about 10 minutes to pickup & install in the parking lot of the auto shop store.

  • Windshield. If you have cracks or dings in your windshield, consider having it replaced. There are also options for filling damaged areas without replacing the entire windshield. Some insurances even offer a free replacement!

  • Lights. Have a friend walk around your car with you to make sure all of the lights on your car are in working order.

    If you're local to West Seattle or the surrounding area, Kandie and her crew at Tom's Automotive (2 blocks from us) are happy to replace the wiper blades as well as check your lights and fluids too.

  • Fluids. Check the fluids in your car periodically. Here are some that are easy to check for yourself: engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid. If you’re a little hesitant to do it yourself, stop by Tom's Automotive to have them checked!

There are plenty of options when it comes to maintaining your car. These are fast tasks to get through when you set by a minimal amount of time each week to address each one!

In the long-run, it will help to not only keep you safe on the road, but also preserve the value of your car.

Accidents still happen
If you happen to meet someone by accident, definitely bring your vehicle here (or have it towed) and we'll work with your insurance directly to get an estimate and the fixes needed to get you and your vehicle safely back on the road. 

Be careful out there!

Spring Auto Detailing in West Seattle

Hi All—Rico here!

Gotta tell you, we're excited to see the sun, slowly and surely, creeping back into our days here in Seattle! The promise of Spring feels close, all right. This time of year means changes for all of us... on a couple of levels.

You may be thinking about getting your cars cleaned up from the wet and muddy winter, but also prepped for the road trips looming on the horizon.

The one word that comes to mind?


Detailing your car is a great way to keep your car looking and smelling clean, of course.

Did you know that regularly detailing your vehicle will help it to retain its value long-term? Detailing is more than just washing the exterior and vacuuming carpets. It's shampoo means digging those items you’ve dropped between the crevices that you thought would be forever lost.

It means shampooing your carpets to keep them looking -and smelling- clean. It means taking the extra time to ensure you’ve wiped, cleaned and sanitized most every inch of your car.

Here are a few things that are on our list when you get your car detailed at our shop.

  • Exterior

  • Interior

  • Vacuuming

  • Shampooing

  • Wheels

  • Tires

  • Trim

  • Windows

Picking the right time to detail is incredibly important too. You want to wait until the dreary wet winter months are in the rear-view window.

The sun and dryer weather help to ensure that your carpets will dry properly. Shampooing during wet months can result in mold or little critters forming in those carpets. Nobody wants those!

We have all sorts of detailing for your car at the shop. We even offer gift certificates.
After all, who wouldn’t love a car spa day as a gift?!

Pop in or call the shop to see what options we have that fit your vehicle’s wants and needs. We look forward to handing your keys back over to you so you can drive out of the shop with a spiffy and shiny vehicle for the sun to sparkle off of!

For the Love of Kids, Carseats & Caution

Hi All—Rico here!

This month I’d like to take some time to focus on the safety of children in cars. There is so much information out there about where kids should and/or shouldn’t sit, who should/shouldn’t be in a car seat and all of the specifics for kids in cars.

In my opinion, airing on the side of caution to keep our youngsters safe is always the best policy!

There are tons of statistics out there about how many kids are injured or killed in car accidents each year which I won’t share. It’s simply far too many and a lot of them could be prevented.  

Here are some helpful reminders and tips for you to consider prior to hitting the road with a child in your car. 

Car seats are important!

  • Kids under 8 or under 4’ 9” have to be secured in a child safety system

  • Kids under 13 should ride in the back seat whenever possible

  • Kids too big for an infant carseat but not ready for the actual car's seat need to ride in a booster seat

  • Kids riding in a booster seat must use a shoulder strap at all times

  • Kids cannot graduate out of a booster seat until they are at least 40 pounds

For more information about safe driving with kids in the car please check out laws, facts and tips here.

For tips on picking the correct car seat for your child click here.

Above all else, just take a little extra time to ensure the safety needs of your child are being met for every single trip in your car.

Careful: Roads Are Slick


Hi All—Rico here!

This time of year, the roads are slick! I wanted to take some time this
week to explain why our Pacific Northwest roads can be dangerous this
time of year, and how to protect you, your car, and the ones you share
the road with.

During summer months where we lack wet weather, the oils and fluids
from vehicles traveling down the road build up. 

The first rain is the most dangerous, at is loosens up all of those fluids
creating a very slick and greasy surface. Believe it or not, this surface
can be compared to black ice! As we move forward, this layer is washed
away but the standing water on the roads, rains and decreased sunlight
all create a much more difficult environment for driving.

Before you hit the road slippery roads for the season, check:

  • Your tires are inflated properly. 
    Keep an air pressure gauge in your glove box.

  • The tread on your tires. 
    Insert a penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down, 
    facing you. If you can see all of the head—it’s time to replace
    your tires.

  • The last time you've had your tires rotated. 
    This should be done every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

  • Your windshield wipers. 
    Invest in quality wiper blades: these can mean the
    difference between seeing and not seeing once the rains begin.

There's more

While you’re on the road:

  • Watch those pedals. Accelerate and decelerate slowly.

  • Increase your distance. Instead of following at a distance from
    3-4 seconds to 8-10 seconds.

  • Slow down. Take your time on the road and slow down a little.

All of these things are simple things to evaluate and do, and don’t cost much! 

If you do meet someone "by accident" please allow us to give an estimate
to repair any damage. You're welcome to have your vehicle towed to our shop. 
We work on your behalf with all insurances. 

Many thanks & safe travels!

A Special Vehicle Upgrade for a Grad

Hi All—Rico here!

As I look around our shop, I am overcome with gratefulness for all of our customers!
We have a full shop this month—everything from special meaningful projects to
detailing to body repair. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in the works now at the shop.

Featured Project
Our paint booth is currently housing a meaningful gift from a father to daughter.
This car is getting a complete makeover as a graduation gift for a very
special young lady. The family has had the car for years, but decided to
spritz it up and make it a “new ride” for their daughter for her graduation. 
This is very near and dear to my heart, and I just did the same for my
graduating daughter. Cars don’t need to be off-the-lot new to be beautiful and special. By sprucing up an older ride, it can be a “like new” car and not break the bank. 
This is a practical, safe and special gift. And we're working to make her and her family
happy with the final product. Congratulations, Graduate!


Dents & Dings Repaired
We have our fair share of cars that are in for minor repairs, removing dings and dents, and also repairs from accidents. No matter the size of the job—we’re here to help. As a bonus, we’ll work with your insurance for you! Just have the car towed here and we’ll take care of the rest so you can focus on other things.

The sun is out! For us, this means we’re spending time in the car heading out to explore! Why not make sure your car is looking and smelling great for that next road trip? Plus, a protective coat of wax will be fantastic to preserve the value of your vehicle to boot. We even offer gift certificates. (And who wouldn’t love a car spa day as a gift?!) Pop in or call the shop and let's coordinate the best detail services for your vehicles.

Featured Oldie Reworks, Plus Dents, Dings & Details

Hi All—Rico here!

The sun is out and we’re beaming from ear to ear with some fun projects this month! We’ve got everything from a classic car repair/restoration to standard repairs to some great detailing work to get our customer’s cars looking great... to match this great weather we’re getting!

Featured Project
This classic beauty was our featured project in the shop this month. We repaired the front end, and are giving it some TLC to bring it back to tip top shape before sending it out on the road. 
By the time we’re done with it the front end will be repaired, all of the chrome work will be reworked and it will be nice and shiny for the next ride.

Dents & Dings Repaired
As always, we have several cars with both minor and major dents, dings and bumps that need repairing. We take our time to ensure that we’re using the optimal method for both the vehicle and the client to get these repaired in a timely and efficient manner. Don’t forget—if you have an accident and need assistance working out your vehicle repairs with insurance, we're your resource for that as well.
Let's about options for your vehicle’s wash, wax and detail here in West Seattle. We would love to see you and talk about how we can maintain the "cruiseability" of your car, truck or SUV!

Auto Detailing, Paint Booth Unmasking & More

Hi All—Rico here!

This month seems to be off to a rainy start outdoors, but is anything but rainy in the shop! We have lots going on in the shop this month. From detailing, cleaning-up and new paint jobs to repair—we’ve got projects galore! Here’s a little sneak peek at a few of the projects in the works. 

Our crew has been hard at work detailing cars this month—getting them all clean, nice and shiny for their owners! From a little wipe down, vacuum or tidy up, to the full interior/exterior spa day for your car, every little bit of maintenance with keeping your car looking and smelling clean is great!

The Paint Booth
We’re just about ready to unmask our newest car that made its way through our paint booth. (Our brand new paint booth that’s utilizing all water based and eco-friendly paint!) This beauty in blue is looking so fresh with its new paint job. Just a few more finishing touches and it’ll be back with its owner and shining as it drives down the road!

Bumper Repair
At any given time, we’ve almost always got a bumper (or multiple) that is in the shop and in need of some fixing and/or T.L.C. We're continually repairing them whenever possible as it's often less expensive than replacing them.  Many times, in order to repair them, we'll use heat, then reshape, then repaint. And then we replace it back onto the vehicle.

When our customers bring their cars into our shop our philosphy is always to use the method that will be the best for the customer and car. This means the best quality, timeline and price for them and their vehicle. Budget and safety are always top of mind for us when we approach each and every job in our shop!


New Water-Based Paint Services at AutoBuff

Hi All—Rico here!

We’re excited to announce that our brand new paint booth is up and running! During November and December of this last year we made the major change and upgraded our paint booth. What’s the big change? We’re using 100% water based paint!

What does this mean? Many great things...and here are just a few:


  • Is healthier for our painters
  • Is extremely durable
  • Requires less clear-coat and dries quicker
  • Has lower VOC (volatile organic content); meaning, it has less impact on the environment

This isn't an easy change to make for a shop, though we've been wanting to for awhile now. 

Many shops are not able to make the switch from a cost and staffing standpoint. The methods that are used for water based spraying utilize a high filtration system to reduce the airborne contaminants released into the atmosphere, so it’s a completely new system for painters to learn and use.

We’re lucky enough here at Rico’s Automotive to have a lead painter, Victor, who is skilled in this type of painting, and a paint prepper, Arturo, who is excellent at getting things ready for a quick turnaround for our customers!

Here's an absolute beauty getting prepped & making her way through the paint booth this month!

Why You Should Not Shampoo Your Interior in Winter

Hey all—Rico here!

One of our favorite things to do here at the shop is to take your car, when it’s looking and feeling its worst, and restore it to its best!

One way we do this is with a great detail. We find that a lot of people do the maintenance when it comes to spiffying their car up on the dash, seats and so on. Many don’t often have time to get to one of the main culprits for dirt and smell—the carpets!

Car carpets are tricky things to clean in a safe and efficient way.

When you add onto that fact that we live in the climate we live in—it’s easy to end up with a big mess if you shampoo carpets this time of year!

If at all possible—avoid shampooing carpets during the winter.

Here's why: The humidity and weather can make it difficult for carpets to dry completely. What does that mean? The onset of mold, mildew & spores. Gross.

This being said, messes happen, even in winter

Spill something on your carpets?

Dilute it right away with a little cool water and then blot it with a clean rag or paper towel until it’s dry.

The main idea being to spot clean only!

Instead of doing a full on carpet shampoo, focus on using as little liquid as possible and spot clean only the area that needs attention.

It’s in your carpets (and car’s) best interest to wait to shampoo carpets until the weather is warmer and dryer. By waiting, you avoid running into problems like mold and other unwelcome little organisms into your carpet by it not being able to dry completely.

So, if you find yourself in a crunch just spot clean and wait until the weather is more conducive to a deep clean. And as always, feel free to drive on over here so we can help! 

We have some great detail packages, and consider ourselves experts in this area!


Happy New Year to All from me, Jolene and the team!