Body Shops Swamped With Weather-Related Wrecks

SPOKANE — The icy roads have kept auto body shops, tow truck drivers and, of course, troopers very busy. In fact, there have been several days this winter where troopers have responded to more than 50 calls.

At American Way Auto Body, they’re working 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week to try and keep up with the wrecked cars that keep coming in for repairs.

“They’re tired, they’re getting tired,” Kevin Sprage says of his body shop employees. “I can see it in ’em. I think they are starting to get on each others nerves.”

The workers are at about double their normal work schedule to deal with the influx of accidents that have occurred on a daily basis in the heavy snow, icy streets and now slushy roads.

Depending on the damage, getting a car to look new again can take more than a week. A Mercury at American Way that suffered heavy side damage, for example, will require 60 man hours to get it looking like new again.

Sprage says his workers are putting in 400 man hours a week.

In the nearly two decades he’s worked at American way, Kevin has seen all types of damage and, though the business is swamped, he’s still thankful it’s not worse than it is.

“Luckily right now I don’t have any rollovers,” he said. “Those are too big of a repair sometimes.”

But nothing breaks his heart more than a new car in the shop.

“For some people it’s their first new car, the biggest purchase they have ever made in their life and here it is in the body shop,” he says.

Take a 2008 Land Cruiser they’re working on, for example. It has just 800 miles on it, and Kevin estimates the damage at close to $35,000.

“Crashes don’t care what year the car is,” Kevin notes.

But he and his workers care. They put hours of sweat into each and every vehicle, and there’s a sense of satisfaction when the car, truck or SUV is returned to its owner, good as new.

“I like to see a happy face,” Sprage admits.