Finding a reliable auto body shop to repair your car can be overwhelming, which is why it’s important to ask questions and discuss details with the technician before the repairs. This article is divided into four main sections to help car owners navigate the process:
Finding a Reliable Auto Body Shop
Before choosing an auto body shop nearby for collision repair, glass replacement, or car painting, it’s essential to ask the following questions to determine if the shop is reliable:
What credentials does the business have?
The first thing to know before selecting a body shop is how long it has been in business. Repairing a vehicle correctly and quickly takes knowledge and experience. You should also ask if they have experience with that particular type of repair and your kind of car. Not all technicians are familiar with foreign vehicles or classic models and this could make it more difficult to fix.
An important sign of a reputable body shop are certifications from car manufacturers and industry associations. Good national certifications to look for are the AAA, the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR), the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and the Independent Auto Body Association (IABA). These certify that technicians have been trained and have the skills to make the proper repairs safely.
Can you give me an estimate?
As the car owner, it’s up to you where to bring your car for repairs, even if your insurance company has agreements with other body shops. Don’t feel pressured into choosing from the shops on your insurance carrier’s list.
To find a reliable auto body shop, it’s best to shop around. Get three or four estimates from different businesses near you. Most repair companies provide free quotes and some can calculate an estimate on their website. The lowest estimate is not necessarily the best, however; be sure to take into account the quality of the parts and the expected long-term durability of the repairs quoted as well.
A trustworthy technician won’t have any problem carefully explaining your repair options and putting a repair estimate in writing. Asking several body shops for quote helps you avoid being overcharged. When the work has been completed, request an itemized bill; compare it to the quote and don’t hesitate to ask about discrepancies.
What kinds of parts and materials will be used to make the repair?
This is often where you will see the most variation between estimates. It’s important to ask if the repair shop will use aftermarket, used or original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. For the integrity of your car, no matter what make or model, it’s best to use new parts, but some body shops try to save money by installing salvaged parts.
If sections of the vehicle need to be painted, you should ask if the paint used will match the current color. A paint code is attached to the car indicating the exact type of paint used by the manufacturer. Ask if the repair shop will match this color and how many coats of paint and clear coat will be applied.
Is there a warranty for repairs and replacements?
A body shop which stands behind its work should offer a written warranty. Ask how long it lasts and what it covers. The minimum should cover the repair work, parts and paint job for one year. Badell’s Collision goes way beyond the industry minimum; we offer a lifetime warranty on all auto body repairs.
Does this auto body shop have insurance?
You never know when bad luck will strike twice. Make sure that the auto body shop you choose for repairs carries insurance for fire and theft. If your car will be held there for a few days while being repaired, you want to make sure it’s insured from further damage.
What are others saying about this business?
Ask around. What do friends, family and acquaintances have to say about their experience with that auto body shop? Do they recommend it? Would they go back? Satisfied customers are the best resource a body shop can have for attracting more business.
You can also get a feeling for the quality of service that a shop near you provides by checking out their ratings, reviews and customer comments online. Read if others have had positive experiences with customer service, felt they received quality repair work in a timely manner, if estimates were accurate and the prices were fair.
Related article: Valuable tips to Avoid Getting Ripped off for Auto Body Repair.
Discussing Repairs with the Auto Body Shop
It’s important to discuss details with the auto body shop before having your car repaired. Ask for details about the problem and the repair process. Get specifics about the repair, an itemized list of parts and repairs, and don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if needed. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion if you’re unsure about the repairs.
Ask for Details about the Repairs Needed
If you’re unsure what’s wrong with your car and need a technician to diagnose the problem, you might need to leave the car at the auto body shop for a few hours. Don’t hesitate to ask for details when the auto body shop calls you to explain the problem.
If the technician tells you that the problem is in the engine but doesn’t expand on the exact problem, don’t hesitate to ask for further information. You might find it helpful to ask for details about why the problem happened, especially if it didn’t result from an accident. The body shop might recommend that you get more frequent oil changes or that certain parts have a high likelihood of failure after a certain number of miles.
Get an Itemized List of Parts and Labor
Before beginning work on your vehicle, your auto body shop or mechanic should give you an estimate of the parts and costs associated with the repair. If you have a dented bumper from a collision, you might have damage that isn’t visible from a casual surface inspection.
The repair might require more than a sanding machine and some paint. Your body shop may also need to replace a support structure under the bumper. Your itemized list of repairs should include all the parts the shop estimates it will use to complete the repair, as well as the expected total cost.
Unforeseen issues may increase the cost of the repair or the length of time the shop must keep your vehicle. Always ask for a full explanation of why the shop needs the car so you’re not left guessing about the cost or timeline.
Define Insurance Coverage
As the owner, you get to choose who to trust with your car. Insurance companies usually have a few chain repair shops in their network of preferred service providers. These relationships are beneficial for the insurance companies because the body shop provides them with a discounted rate, but this savings isn’t passed on to their customers. You, the car owner, pay the same going rate.
So, if that’s not the way that you like to do business, or you’re concerned about the quality of their workmanship, you are free to choose a different body shop. And though a local, family-owned body shop may not be on the insurance companies preferred list, we will definitely still work with your insurance company to get the right repairs made and covered.
Learn more about Choosing a Body Shop Outside of the Insurance Preferred Network.
If Something Is Unclear, Ask for Clarification
Some repairs aren’t challenging to understand, but if you’re at all confused about the function of a particular part or the reason for a repair, do ask your auto body shop for information. Your auto body shop or mechanic can expand on why your car needs a specific repair, as well as the reason for the cost.
You don’t need to act like an expert on auto body repair when speaking with your auto body technician or the shop owner. It’s far more critical to get the clarification you need rather than pretend you know everything about your vehicle.
Don’t be Afraid to Get a Second Opinion
You’re under no obligation to have your car fixed by the first auto body mechanic who diagnoses your vehicle. If you’re unsure about the repairs, don’t hesitate to ask another shop for a diagnosis. Just as you might get a second opinion from a doctor about a health issue, you can also do the same regarding your vehicle.
Preparing for Auto Repairs
Once you’ve chosen the right auto body shop, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that you’re well-prepared for the repair process. These include:
- Cleaning out the car interior before dropping it off
- Removing any personal items, such as electronics, from the car
- Checking with your insurance company about coverage and claim details
- Making arrangements for a rental car, if needed
How long will it take to repair your car?
When getting auto body repairs, several factors impact how long it takes to fix your car, including the extent of damage, repair claims process, hidden surprises, insurance supplements, ordering parts, scheduling repair work, and the skills of the collision repair staff. When estimating the work required, repair technicians can only take into account the surface, so the repair time and cost may change once underway. After repairs are made, car owners should check paint color, texture, overspray, alignment, and cleanliness, and if there are any issues, talk to the body shop or seek a post-repair inspection from another facility.
Post-Repair Car Care
After the repairs are complete, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that your car stays in good condition:
- Thoroughly inspect the repaired areas to make sure everything is in order
- Drive cautiously for the first few days after the repair, as your car may handle differently
- Keep an eye out for any unusual noises or behaviors in your car, as these could indicate further problems
- Follow up with the auto body shop if any issues arise after the repair
When should car owners request a post-repair inspection?
The car owner can ask for a post-repair inspection whenever they are unsatisfied with the repair work done. This type of inspection is designed to determine if the original damage was fully assessed, if the car was fixed properly, and that quality parts were used. If you see that the car looks different than before the collision or operates differently, this is another good reason to request an inspection.
Don’t Settle for Less than the Best: Badell’s Auto Body Repair
Choosing the right auto body shop for your car repairs can be challenging, but by asking the right questions, discussing details with the technician, preparing for the repairs, and following up after the repairs are complete, you can help ensure that your car is in good hands and running smoothly.
Badell’s Collision is the body shop trusted by thousands of car owners in the Aston and Malvern, Pennsylvania area. We welcome any questions you may have about how we do business, the services we offer and estimates. Visit one of our shops or try the easy-to-use online estimate form.