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609-607-8567 Stetson Automotive, Inc. 309-315 Route 9
Waretown, NJ 08758


This is a question we get a LOT.  Customers come in after they’ve been hit in an accident.  They call in their claim to their insurance company and start the process.  But when the time comes to deliver the car, they are surprised to find that they have to pay a deductible.  “But the accident wasn’t my fault,” they say.  “I shouldn’t have to pay for any of it.”  And they’re right….sort of.  It’s actually a little more complicated.

If someone else causes your car accident, that other party should have to pay, usually through their mandatory liability insurance.  But just because YOU feel you aren’t at fault it doesn’t mean that police or the insurance company will make that determination.  Also, for you to avoid having to lay out any money, you would have to open your auto claim through the other party’s insurance carrier – this is usually only possible if a police report has been filed.  Unfortunately, even in those cases where you pursue the other party’s insurance company, they can take up to 45 days or longer to determine their policy holder is at fault.  IF they determine fault.  Often times, they determine what’s known as ‘shared liability,’ deeming that both you and their insured contributed to the loss.  In those situations, you’ll only get partial payment to cover the repairs, and you can bet it won’t be to cover your deductible.  That partial payment will go right to your insurance carrier through a process called subrogation.

Now, subrogation isn’t all that bad.  Subrogation is the process by which insurance companies determine liability  for losses and reach settlement between the interested parties.  So, if you do have to pursue your claim through your own carrier, your insurance company will use subrogation to settle the claim.  This can help you avoid incurring rate increases, and sometimes even get you reimbursed for your deductible.  Now, it’s important to note that each accident is different and results will vary.  But it’s comforting to know that you have a process in which to participate.


New Jersey gets hail.  Teeny tiny little pellets about the size of Tic Tac or smaller will fall during a storm every now and then.  We New Jerseyans “oooooh” and “ahhhhh” for a moment or two, snap a pic and post it on social media.  Then, we go about our day.  Until last month.  But this time we didn’t  “oooh” and “ahhh” so much as we hollered and ran for cover.


On June 21st, Waretown experienced a freak and unexpected hail storm that delivered serious damage to homes and cars.  Greenbriar Oceanaire Community was among the worst hit, tallying up hundreds of thousands in property damage claims.  Because this storm hit in the mid-afternoon, many residents were out driving or parked in open-air parking lots.  These cars experienced the worst of the damage, and let me reiterate: it was SERIOUS damage.

As the only auto body shop in town, you can imagine we’ve seen a number of these vehicles up close and personal.  This also means we’ve quickly become well-versed in how each insurance carrier handles these types of claims.  Trust me: they are NOT equal – they are not even close!  I want to take this opportunity to help our customers with some helpful hints and important info, so your claim is processed RIGHT!

  1. Hail damage, though an ‘act of God,’ is covered by an auto policy’s Comprehensive coverage. If your vehicle is financed with an auto loan or leased, Comprehensive coverage is mandatory.  How do you know if you have Comprehensive coverage?  Check your policy’s declaration sheet.  It will outline exactly what is covered and what your deductible (if any) is listed.
  2. Hail damage dents can range from minor to severe within the same car and even same panel. You can have a seriously large dent in the center of your hood, while only have small dents on your fender or door.  The only way to ensure a complete and thorough estimate is to have a dent technician evaluate the damage.  Since late June, we’ve had hail damage specialists on-site to both assess and assist in our repairs.  This has allowed us to move much faster and with far more accuracy, giving our customers a quick turnaround and a fully restored vehicle.
  3. IT’S THE LAW: all auto claim damage MUST, BY LAW, be repaired at a licensed New Jersey auto body facility. Any insurance carrier that directs you to a repair vendor that will come to your home is breaking the law!  This law is to protect consumers from insurance carriers authorizing sub-par repairs and devaluing your vehicle.  Furthermore, if your vehicle is leased or financed, the finance/lessor company my not permit payment to these vendors – sticking YOU with the bill.   NJ Auto Law

I hope this helps you navigate your claims process.  If you’re not sure what, if any, damage you’ve had, give us a call.


So, last week the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission announced some anticipated changes to our required car inspection process, and it’s not all good news.  In fact, one could argue (and I will) that none of it is good news at all.

You may remember that in 2010 the MVC made huge changes to inspection requirements, restricting inspections merely to emissions testing only.  This eliminated the safety and mechanical check that helped protect motorists from unsafe vehicles and alert them to needed repairs.  The arguable silver lining of that announcement was a shift to inspections from yearly to every two years.  The issue I take with the 2010 change is on two fronts: 1) all the licensed re-inspectors had paid for costly equipment to meet the pre-2010 requirements that were now eliminated – shafting those private business owners and 2) vehicle registration fees DID NOT DROP in cost even though these changes lessened the volume and overhead for the state.  Funny how New Jersey managed to stick it to the little guy on every front there, huh?

With these new proposed changes, expected to be effective May 1st of this year, we see a new crop of poor decisions.  And, again, the motorists are getting a raw deal.

Firstly, the MVC plans to institute a passenger vehicle only initial inspection at state-run facilities, forcing commercial vehicles to get all inspections privately.  More on the problem with private inspections in a moment, but let’s focus on commercial vehicles.  This change will mean that the commercial vehicles we share the road with will NEVER be inspected by state facilities and are more open to the inevitable mismanagement of privatization (e.g. erroneous, incomplete, fraudulent inspections.)    And the MVC is being disingenuous when it implies that the current inspection stations are ‘state-run,’ as they are a private company paid contractually by the state.

Secondly, any subsequent re-inspections on passenger vehicles will all be funneled to private inspection facilities licensed by the state.  Now, this is the same segment of the business population that merely 6 years earlier got sandbagged by the MVC.  Is this about-face a belated apology?  Who knows?  But what I do know is that it costs MONEY to get a private inspection at a licensed facility.  So, the MVC is making us pay twice; both for annual registration renewal (at $60 a pop) and again for your inspection sticker.  It should also be pointed out that the MVC is sending us motorists to mechanical repair facilities for these inspections – you know, places that have a financial motive to fail vehicles in the hopes of securing repair business from the customer.  I’m not saying that all these facilities would engage in this nefarious behavior, but the MVC has certainly given them an opportunity to consider it.

Lastly, model years that are from 1995 and older are not required to have inspections at all.  Granted, this is the lesser of my gripes, but one that still holds some merit.  I’ll concede that there are far fewer 1995 and older vehicles haunting our roadways, but those that do are putting out far worse emissions than their younger brethren.  So, if the goal of these emission-only inspections is to adhere to a clean air mantra how can the MVC reconcile old, oil burning, carbon coughing jalopies getting away scot-free?  I have no idea, but I’m not the only person complaining.  Environmental advocates are making their voices heard, too.

I don’t know if this MVC inspection proposal will become a full reality on May 1st, but I hope it doesn’t.  As a life-long resident of New Jersey, I’ve yet to see the cost of registration and renewal go down with any of the MVC’s ‘cost saving’ measures, and this new proposal is no different.  We’ll still be paying.  And paying…and paying…


Over the last 13 years, Stetson Automotive, Inc. has been blessed with a wonderful clientele.  You’ve helped us grow through these years and that is why we want to announce to you some exciting changes our shop is initiating.

More than 20 years ago we had our start in collision repairs, so Stetson is going back to its roots!  We’re devoting our entire facility to accommodating our ever-growing auto body shop.  Stetson’s auto body shop has developed into one of the most recognized collision repair shops in the county and have grown out of our two-unit area.  Expanding into the entire building will allow us to service a higher volume of repairs with greater speed and security.

The unfortunate drawback of this advancement in our auto body department is that the mechanical shop will no longer be needed.  And so, effective March 31st, 2016, we will be ceasing mechanical repair service permanently.  It was a difficult and emotional decision to make, as we are a family run organization.  But one that was well thought out and necessary; the future and security of our family and business is always a top priority in all of our judgements.  Our customers’ best interests are very much a priority as well, and as we hope to retain your patronage in all of your collision-related needs, we would also like to refer your mechanical repair services to a location we trust.

Barlow Buick GMC is also a family owned and operated company with a wonderful service reputation for all makes and models – beyond GM.  Their hours of operation are very accommodating, and their staff is very courteous and thorough.  Barlow’s Service Department can be reached at (609) 597-4700.

barlow logo

We at Stetson want to express our sincere appreciation for your loyalty, support and friendship, and we look forward to continuing to providing excellent service as we transition fully to Auto Body.  Thank you for being a part of our growth and success.


Most drivers have had to interact with a mechanical shop.  What many people may not be so familiar with is collision repair.  You may go decades without having an accident, and that’s a good thing!  But when it does, unfortunately, happen, it puts you in an awkward and confusing position.  “Who do I call first?”  “Will my insurance company raise my rates?”  “How long with this take?”

These are all reasonable questions.  So, here are a few facts and tips to help you or someone you know.

  1. Most importantly: according to New Jersey law, you have the right to take your vehicle to ANY LICENSED REPAIR SHOP YOU CHOOSE! Insurers cannot ‘steer’ you toward their own shops for their financial benefit.  And they cannot penalize you for exercising your LEGAL RIGHT!  So, if your company says that you must or should select from their list or they say they will not cover the damage, IT’S AGAINST THE LAW.   Your car, your choice!
  2. Who do I call first? The first call should to the local police.  The best way to protect yourself against false liability claims or unwarranted insurance surcharges is to have police there so that a report can be made.   If the other party suggests police not be called, that’s a red flag!  That other party may not be licensed or insured.  If you or the other party are worried about insurance premiums going up, don’t be.  The police do not notify the insurers directly.  Only when claims are generated do these reports come in to play.  More on that in a minute.
  3. Who is at fault? Well, this may get complicated, but remember this: the police are not necessarily the final determination on fault.  The insurance companies will make that call, and your input will have much to do with it.  So, be thorough and clear with all parties.
  4. Will my rates go up? If I had a nickel…The truth is I don’t know.  Insurance companies have a lot of discretion in how they rate their customer’s premiums.  Traditionally, comprehensive claims, like vandalism or deer hits, did not impact your rates at all.  But there has been a disturbing trend with some insurers towards increasing rates for every type of incident.  It’s important to screen your insurance carriers about this before you commit to a policy.
  5. What’s next? Well, after police arrive and handle the situation immediately after the accident, your next step is to call us.  We can help you navigate through the decisions of which insurance company you will report your claim to (if you were the victim, it might be through the other party.)  We can also help you call in your claim so that all the vital information can be recorded, like claims adjuster contact info, claim number, vehicle inspection date and time and car rental set up.  This will make your experience go far more smoothly.  Also, it affords you the option to have the claims adjuster inspect your vehicle at our shop.  This is beneficial to you, as it allows the adjuster more access to view damage underneath and behind panels.  This becomes far more difficult in a driveway or parking lot, and may slow down your claims processing.
  6. How long will this take? Well, I can’t answer this accurately in a blog post.  But on average, our repair turnaround time is 5-10 days.  Our ability to repair your car quickly is impacted by some external factors you should consider: parts availability, insurance company claims processing, adjuster availability and severity of the damage.
  7. What do I owe? Typically, with insurance claims through your own carrier, you will owe the deductible.  This is a predetermined amount of money ‘deducted’ for the amount of the repair cost.  If the claim is through the other party’s insurance, you will not be responsible for a deductible.  And, obviously, any out-of-pocket work is just that – out of your pocket.

Considering our recent storm, I figured this might be of particular importance right now.  Of course, we’re here from Monday to Saturday, and we can answer any questions you have.


Contact Information

Stetson Automotive, Inc.

309-315 Route 9
Waretown, NJ 08758

Phone: 609-607-8567
Email Us

Feel free to call or email us to schedule your next appointment.

Business Hours

Monday - Friday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

8:00 AM - 12:00 PM


We accept cash.
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  • car repair shop
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  • brake repair service