Car accidents are frightening. Trusting a body shop to repair the damage after an accident can be even scarier. The best way to feel confident with your car repairs is to use a professional auto body mechanic that is honest and reliable. Those who don’t have a regular auto body mechanic can still be sure that their repair job is done right by following the simple tips below.
Tip #1: Understand the Estimate
Before giving a body shop the okay to get started, review the estimate carefully. Discuss the work to be completed with the mechanic and ask questions about the process if needed. Double check the cost breakdown and be aware of out-of-pocket expenses not covered by the insurance company. It is also a good idea to get a copy of the body shop’s warranty policy along with your written estimate. When the job is finished, look over the estimate again and confirm that the stated work has been finished.
Tip #2: Shop Around
Don’t decide on a body shop without a minimum of 2 estimates. Remember that in many states insurance companies are not allowed to limit the repair options to their own network of body shops. The stated prices and services of each repair shop aren’t the only things to consider. Compare the organization and cleanliness of the work areas, look around the shops for certifications or job photos, and make note of the equipment. Every professional auto body center should have a paint booth and a frame machine.
Tip #3: Look at the Parts
Mechanics are notorious for installing aftermarket replacement parts but charging the customer for more expensive OEM parts. Less reputable auto repair centers may charge for parts that are never even replaced. When your repairs are finished, ask to see the damaged parts. Take a look at the newly installed components as well. It’s also a good idea to read over the estimate again. Most body shop quotes will tell if a part is supposed to be refurbished, rebuilt, new OEM, or a generic replacement.
Tip #4: Inspect the Repairs
When a vehicle leaves a professional auto body shop, it should look like a brand new car. The car should be clean inside and out, and there should be no signs of body damage. Inspect the area that was repaired to see if there are noticeable gaps or misaligned pieces. Make sure the doors open and close freely, as well as the trunk. Try to look at the car’s underside. If there’s visible evidence that the frame was straightened, it could be a sign of a bad repair job. Another useful test is to check the headlight alignment.
Tip #5: Examine the Paint
A poor paint job is the most common complaint people have when they pick up their cars. Check the color consistency and make sure the fresh paint blends with the old. Also look for drips or overspray that may have accumulated along the edges of the car. You shouldn’t see any fingerprints and the surface should be smooth. The most obvious signs of a bad paint job are rough spots or bumps in the finish. These blemishes are caused by dust and other debris that wasn’t removed before painting.
If there is a problem, address it with the body shop manager immediately. A professional auto body repair center that stands by their work will gladly fix any mistakes. Don’t be afraid to drop in while your car is being repaired either. Observing the job firsthand can be very reassuring.