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Mobile Lifestyle Advisor

Q. HELP!! I was in an accident and the value the insurance has offered me is very low. So low that I cannot find a replacement van for the money offered. What is the next step. Judy T.--VA

A. Judy, I get several of these calls every winter and the answer is always the same. Have a NMEDA dealer evaluate the modifications on your van and give you a formal quotation both on the replacement value and the current market value of those modifications. This is information that is NOT readily available to the insurance companies and I have found that most adjustors don’t realize the values of modifications on these specialized vans. Fight the system. You will NEVER realize a fair valuation without doing some homework on your own. As I mentioned last month, the system is not built in your favor. If you can convince the insurance company to repair the van you will be money ahead. It will take longer and the insurance allocation for rental vans will not cover the complete time you are without a van. Patients and determination is the name of the game. Don’t settle until you have played all the cards.

As a follow up to the above question, I will also recommend that you demand that your repaired van be inspected by a NMEDA dealer BEFORE you settle with the insurance company. Many times minor body damage leads to problems with specialized switches, kneel motors, low effort steering racks and ramp runners. These hidden damages may not be ready seen by a body shop and may lead to long term issues if not repaired immediately. You surely don’t want to find out you have other problems as a result of the accident after the bills are paid and the van is in your driveway.

Q. Most of the older vans and cars for that manner that I have owned will at some point have a “Check Engine” dash light come on. Some I have driven for years with the light on, (it seems to never go off once it is on) with no noticeable issues. I have heard that these "dummy lights” are just the manufacture’s way of getting you into the dealership for expensive service. Yesterday however while driving my van had the “Check Engine” light was flashing on and off. Should I be concerned or let it go like I usually do?? Ed P.--WV

A. You have an unusual circumstance with the flashing “Check Engine” light that I would defiantly have looked at immediately. I am told this flashing light as opposed to the constant on light means that the catalytic converter is being damaged. Now as you know this IS a major expense and much more costly to the long term performance of your van than the standard “vacuum leak” that is so common with this light. Flashing Check Engine means your van is not burning all the fuel being sent to the cylinders thus sending raw gas to the converter and ruining it in short order. Get to a dealer quickly and have the van looked at. It may be an inexpensive fix now but very costly later. Great question Ed!

Need to “up fit” your next car, truck or van for mobility needs?? Want to make sure your mobility equipment will transfer to your next vehicle. Don’t know what style of vehicle to buy. Let the Mobile Lifestyle Advisor help solve your mobility needs. Keep those questions coming in and keep those wheels rolling on! Send your questions and comments to “The Mobile Lifestyle Advisor”, % Richard Baldwin, 2075 W. Main St. Waynesboro Va. 22980, or email him at