It happens to all of us at one point in time. We get into an automobile collision. Hopefully, it is not too bad and we are not seriously injured. But usually the car does not fare as well and comes away with significant damage.
What is the next step? Likely, after informing the insurance company you take your vehicle to one of their “approved” vendors.
Here is what happens next. You tell the insurance company what company you choose. By this time they have already taken phones of the car and know how extensive the damage is. They have a computer system that gives them a printed estimate stating what the replacement parts and labor will be based upon a set hourly rate.
This statement is given to the body shop. It comes with a break down of what the labor and parts “should” be and the company has to usually be able to totally fix the car for that price. Keep in mind that what is printed out represents the best case scenario and doesn’t allow for items on the car that was missed or problems that come up.
Now here are some things to watch out for. Local body shops are operating under very, very thin margins and the incentive to “cut corners” is huge. Getting an extra $300 off a job can really add up over the course of the month when you are talking about doing at least 3-5 vehicles every week.
Make sure the parts being used on your car are OEM parts. These are replacement auto body parts are sent directly from the car manufacturers and are designed with the same specs as the vehicle came with. Aftermarket parts can be significantly cheaper yet are not the same quality and make not hold up the same in the event of another accident.
The frame is usually somewhat bent when a car goes through an accident of any kind. It needs to be properly realigned. Unfortunately, because the money made off one car can be very little the propensity to skip this step is very high. Later down the road this will cause your car to not drive straight but at a tilt and your tires will wear prematurely.
Using Bondo (Fillers) Instead of Replacing the Part
Filling any damage in with bondo is not bad in itself. If you know what they are doing, they tell you, and this is what you are paying for then it is fine. The problem comes in when you think you are getting a vehicle back that is 99.9% the same as before it was wrecked and it is not. Filling a damaged part in with filler rather than replacing the expensive part is a common tactic and you want to make sure it is not done on your vehicle. All damaged parts should be replaced unless you are paying a lower price for the car to just be fixed (in the case you want the cheapest price and do not care about having a car exactly the same as before).
Keep in mind that most auto body repair shops are honest and are surviving in a tough industry. The insurance companies nickel and dime them at every turn and they are made to give them at time ridiculous discounts to get any business. Nevertheless, corners should not be cut at your expense and being watchful is just a smart way to go.