Car owners have practically always had a distrusting relationship with mechanics and car repair centers. And this lack of trust is not entirely unfounded. Especially when women or young people are the customer, dishonest auto repair shops have a reputation for overcharging and doing unnecessary work.
According to a survey by AAA, 66% of drivers in the country don’t trust auto repair shops. These customers don’t feel they can rely on technicians because of past bad experiences. Unfortunately, not every company in the auto industry is focused on fair practices and good customer service. Those that inflate prices, charge for unneeded work, replace parts for no reason, or use low-quality parts, have created an environment of skepticism.
So, what are customers supposed to do? Let’s look at why some types of customers get cheated more often, how to ensure you’re getting a fair deal, and how to find a reliable auto body shop.
Who Is More Likely to Get Ripped Off for Car Repairs?
Recent research has shown that women and young drivers are less likely to get a fair price to get their car fixed. One study found a gender difference between car owners requesting an estimate. When a customer seemed unsure about what repairs should cost, females were more often overcharged auto work.
Similarly, Millennial and Gen X car owners are less likely to know who to trust for car repairs. While more than 75% of Baby Boomers have a shop which they rely on regularly. Only about 55% of younger drivers have the same type of relationship.
To make matters worse, modern cars tend to have more advanced materials, components, and electronics which are costly to repair and replace. Plus, insurance companies confuse car owners by steering them towards their ‘preferred network’ of shops which cost them less money, but don’t deliver any extra benefit for the end customer.
Get more information about choosing the shop to fix your car and other Collision Repair Rights.
How Can You Avoid Getting a Bad Deal?
Buyer beware! Ensure that you get high-quality car repairs at a fair price. Here are a few tips to protect yourself as a consumer.
Discuss the Price
The same research tests mentioned above also found that the best way to get a fair price was to do some market research ahead of time. Before calling an auto body or collision repair shop, get a ballpark price for the work and parts needed. Then, in your initial contact with a shop, ask about the estimated cost and mention your price expectations upfront. Women and young customers may be less accustomed to negotiating prices, but haggling can also help decrease the quote without affecting the quality of the work.
A potential customer can avoid getting a rip-off by having some general understanding of how car components work together. If you haven’t already, read the owner’s manual to get familiar with your particular vehicle make and model. Then, armed with a basic understanding of mechanics and car maintenance, you can ask helpful questions about repair work and better understand what’s required. It’s much tougher for dishonest shops to take advantage of informed consumers.
Check out the book, Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide, by Patrice Banks. This local Pennsylvania mechanic works to empower women and others to learn more about their automobiles in order to be smart consumers.
You should always request an estimate for body repairs and collision work. A good quote will be detailed and itemized. Be sure that you understand the items listed in the estimate. If something doesn’t make sense to you or if there are unnecessary charges, ask for an explanation. Compare estimates from at least one other shop and feel free to ask about differences that show up.
Remember, the lower quote isn’t always the best one. In the estimate process, you may learn that:
- Other work is likely required;
- Damage may be more extensive than expected by one tech;
- There are quality differences in the parts, material or paint quoted;
- It’s better, in the long-term, to replace a part rather than repair it;
- One shop offers a warranty, but another does not.
It’s also important to keep in mind that an estimate is not necessarily the final cost for the parts and labor needed. Some damage isn’t noticeable until a technician begins to dismantle the vehicle. So, the bill for repair work may be higher than expected or require supplemental insurance charges. Either way, a reputable shop should notify you – beforehand – if additional charges are likely.
Related article: Why You Should Compare Auto Insurance Rates Every Year.
With the repair estimate in hand, request any information that isn’t expressly written. You may want to take a day or two to look over the estimate and compare it to others in town. Before approving any quoted work, be sure to inquire about:
- The quality of replacement parts – original equipment manufacturer (OEM), aftermarket, or salvage;
- The quality of paint to be used for touch-ups and their repainting process;
- If the shop provides a warranty for repair work and replacement parts;
- The expected turn-around time for repair work.
How Can You Locate a Trustworthy Car Repair Shop?
The good news is that there are dependable auto body shops out there. We advise car owners to check the collision repair shop for certifications, such as AAA, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR). Technicians should be certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
Find out how long the shop has been in business; business success is a telltale sign of a strong reputation. Also, look at customer reviews online to learn more about satisfaction levels and how it handles complaints.
We also recommend that customers build a relationship with a car repair service provider. First, visit the shop for a regular glass replacement service or minor dent repair. This will give you a better idea of how it operates. If the shop earns your trust over time, you will be assured that repairs are done properly and prices are fair. Plus, this gives technicians the chance to get to know you and your car better. Then, when you need more invasive body or collision repairs, you will already know where to take your car.
Find out What Questions You Should Ask When Looking for a Reliable Auto Body Shop.
Trusted Collision Repairs in Pennsylvania – BADELL’S COLLISION
Our company is serious about great customer service and high satisfaction. It’s easy to get a quote from Badell’s in Aston and Malvern, Pennsylvania, for auto body repair, dent repair, car glass repair, and car painting services through our online form.