Selecting an Auto Body Repair Shop

Due to the amount of time we spend on the road the chances of us needed to find a great auto body shop may come up more than once. Most of us get a little flustered at the thought of searching for the right place that can work in your price range. No one ever knows where to start though. Here are a few tips on choosing the perfect auto body shop for you.

The first step is finding an auto body shop that will fix your car to look like the collision never happened. Some good auto body shops will only have the ability to fix your car to a point called pre-loss condition. Pre-loss condition is when the mechanic fixes your cars appearance, body structure, and keeps your cars mechanical reliability.

Next comes customer service, our favorites. Everyone has horror stories about bad customer service in numerous places of business. However, if you are calling an auto body shop that means that lives were once in danger so they should immediately ask if anyone was injured. Their chance at making money should never overshadow your needs or concerns. Many body shops are only in the business because they know that everyone will need to have their car repaired at some point. Most of those businesses do not have a skilled and knowledgeable staff. That is why it is so vital to find the right body shop so you and your insurance company are getting what you have paid for.

When dealing with your insurance company, make sure that you fight for the right to pick your own repair shop. Most insurance companies and repair shops have a deal worked out to lower the shops cost in exchange for giving them business. The shop then cuts corners and leave out steps to keep the cost down. This in turn means you are paying the insurance company the inflated premiums and your deductible but are only receiving second rate repair. The insurance company may respond saying that they can not guarantee the work of other shops but in reality all good shops guarantee their work for as long as you own that car. If a shop says that they do not have that standard, it is a sign to keep looking.

Always ask the person who is estimating your damage questions. If you are working with a smaller shop the person you are speaking with will probably be the one working directly on your car. In larger chain shops they have sales people who do the estimates and have no direct connection or knowledge about your car. The techs working on your car may not want to rewrite you an estimate to make it the correct amount. Never be afraid to ask questions if you are confused. Larger shops may have fancy equipment and tools to make people believe that they are much more advanced then other shops but in reality, those fancy tools are rarely even used in fixing your car.

Always ask the body shop about their insurance programs or DRP (direct repair programs) because this may mean they can not create their own business and need the help of a deal. Not all shops that have these programs are bad shops but it can defiantly be a red flag.

The very best way to find a good body shop is by word of mouth, so ask around. Most people would never send you to a place where they were not satisfied with the work they were given.

Now when you are stuck in a bind after a collision you will have the right information and questions to ask before selection the body shop for you. The last and the most important thing to remember is, if you ever feel uncomfortable or pressured by a body shop, move on because they may be desperate for business because they are not known for their good service.

How To Find The Best Auto Body Collision Repair Center For You And What Constitutes As A Good Shop

The event of an accident can be very stressful. Finding the right Auto Body Shop can be just as excruciating, I hope to alleviate most of your worries in this article explaining what makes a good (if not great) Auto Body Shop, and how you can find the one that’s right for you.

The best auto collision shops are determined by the quality of work/materials that are applied, and the timeliness of the overall job. Quality can be separated by two different attributes (1) parts/materials and (2) labor. The quality of factory OEM parts far exceeds that of the aftermarket kind. Sure aftermarket products are cheaper, but that’s what’s also happening to your vehicle it’s being “cheapened.” Simply put the materials used are of poor quality, this problem magnifies with misshapen parts due to terrible molds. A good shop will avoid this route by any means necessary. With a factory OEM part the vehicle owner is maintaining the value of their automobile, along with its structural durability. The bondo, primer, and paint needed to repair your vehicle should be of the highest quality in order to produce the best resulting finished product. Most auto body shops have converted to water-based environmentally safe painting, and only a good body shop will offer a lifetime guarantee on these paint jobs.

The quality of labor is a significant factor in a vehicle’s finished result. Starting with properly trained technicians who should be certified in their field of automotive work (iCar, PPG, etc.). Their experience plays a bigger role as well, for example we have employees with various related backgrounds in mechanics, engineering, and custom fabrication. This helps out when rapid knowledge is needed regarding a vehicle with custom modifications. A good collision repair shop will also have knowledge in all major automobile models including old and new.

A shop’s slow repair process can sometimes be unintentional. Insurance companies are required to pay within 10 days after a claim receipt has been made, but this isn’t always the case; Insurance companies avoid payment by evading phone calls to “wear you out”. A good shop will stand up for their customer, and deal directly with the insurance. This is not to be confused with a “direct repair shop” or a “preferred provider” shop that works with the insurance to save them money and devalue your vehicle with aftermarket parts in order to secure work for themselves. A good shop will advocate for their customer against the insurance company in order to receive optimum repair coverage for your vehicle. Once the correct claim estimate is fashioned a well-established body shop will order the parts needed to repair the vehicle as soon as possible. It is important to do this right away to keep from back orders, shipping delays, or any other problems that can occur (like the wrong part showing up). The overall turnaround time is determined by the amount of work needed for the vehicle, delays caused by insurance and parts companies, and the effectiveness of the auto collision repair shop.

A great way to determine how effective an Auto Body Shop operates is to use review sites. Yelp is a great way to see how well a collision repair shop is doing. You will most likely be able to verify a business’s time or quality based off of reviews created for that specific shop. Another way to find reviews regarding a shop is to use Facebook or Google Reviews. Although these sites aren’t as reputable as yelp (due to superior algorithm functions), they can give you more perspective of how well that specific collision repair shop is doing. Try to use your best judgment, and don’t always trust every review. Remember you have the choice to choose the body shop you want! Don’t be steered by your insurance company or anyone else. Do the research and educate yourself, and I promise you will be satisfied with your newly repaired vehicle.

Choosing A Local Auto Body Repair Company

Ah, you have been in accident! Not a favorite experience of many people. Whats even worse than the actual fallout of the automobile accident itself is getting your vehicle repaired.

If you go through a reputable and ethical auto body repair shop you will end up with an automobile that drives and looks just like its was never wrecked. If you go through a shady company you will have a substandard vehicle that will have a really low re-sell value in the future. Here is what you can do to prevent the latter from happening.

Make Sure The Estimate Includes Factory Parts

How can one body shop give you an estimate that is half the cost of another? The answer usually is that one will use aftermarket parts that cost half the price.

This is very important to know! Aftermarket parts are usually not high in quality and many times do not fit exactly like original ones made from the actual manufacturer. Shops usually have to play and bend aftermarket parts to work and they do not usually last a long time. They can also compromise a car’s tolerance to withstand another wreck. A bumper for instance made by the manufacturer is made to withstand a certain impact. Its made to bend and crumple a certain way so that the people in the car absorb as little shock as possible. An aftermarket part may look genuine but it is probably made out of inferior materials and its threshold is a lot lower.

Demand that original parts be used to rebuild your car.

Check the Better Business Bureau for Any Complaints

Look up a company in the BBB and see if any complaints have been filed in the last year. If so try to inquire why. If a certain business has high stars and a high satisfaction rate then you have a good idea of what company you are dealing with.

Ask For A Couple References

Ask them to supply you with the name of recent customers who they have serviced. Call them up. See if these individuals were happy with the work that was performed for them. If an auto body shop is hesitant to supply with at least three names then I would go somewhere else.

Warranty

Any service like this should stand behind their work and offer some type of guarantee. They should back all their parts and labor with a warranty that lasts at least a year. If something falls off or if the paint fades after only a month then you want to make sure that they are willing to fix their mistake.

Ask To See Pictures

Ask a body shop to see some before and after photos. Do they have experience in doing the work you need done? Have they ever worked on your type of car before? What is the worst wreck they have fixed? These things are good points to keep in mind.

Five Tips for Choosing the Right Auto Body Shop

Choosing an auto body shop doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience. Estimates from different shops will likely fluctuate, sometimes to the point where you wonder if you are getting quotes for the same repair on the same vehicle. Consider these five tips to help guide you in making your decision:

1. Get Multiple Estimates

This one is obvious. Not only will multiple auto body shop quotes give you some idea of the “middle ground,” you’ll feel better knowing that you did your homework and you aren’t simply going with the cheapest… or worse yet, the most costly proposition.

2. Are They Certified and Insured

Do they seem reputable and carry all the appropriate certifications insurance?

Is the location a direct repair facility for your insurance company?

If you are completely new to the facility and going in with very little information on them, check for appropriate licensing hanging on the wall near the register.

Things can go wrong with any repair shop and your vehicle will be living there for a while, so you want to make sure that the repair facility you choose is protected in the event of fire, theft, or natural disaster.

3. Parts and Warranty

What is the warranty on repairs? Depending on whether they are a direct repair facility for your insurance company, you will likely get anywhere between 1 year and a lifetime warranty. Comparing warranties between locations can be a big indicator of the quality of parts and workmanship. You want to hire someone willing to stand by their craft.

Do they use aftermarket or used parts? Used parts don’t necessarily mean quality is bad, but when comparing quotes, you want to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. If one location is offering used parts and another new, and their estimates are the same, look closer. What is making up the extra cost in the estimate for the shop offering the used parts? The per-hour labor costs may be higher at that particular shop.

What kind of paint matching technology do they use? You want to be sure that they can make an exact match of the paint code for your vehicle, and that they are using a high-quality coating.

4. Reputation

Do they have a good local reputation? Are they part of a social network where you can check for reviews? Ask around to friends and family; almost everyone has used an auto body shop at some point, and you’ll be surprised how much information you can gather by listening to other people’s experiences.

5. Trust Your Gut… and Relax

If you are searching for an auto body shop, you and your car likely just went through a stressful experience. Trust your gut after visiting the location; you want to leave feeling that the customer service seems knowledgeable about their industry and genuine about service. If anything about the experience seems not above board, keep looking, and use the tips above to guide you until you find a professional you can feel good about.

9 Things to Consider Before Choosing an Auto Body Shop?

If you have been in a car accident, you may need extensive repairs on your auto. Even if you don’t need a lot of repairs, you will still need to have your car looked at by a professional to make sure that your car is safe to drive.

While most shops can do the mechanical work required to make your car road worthy again, not all auto body shops can repair damage to the body of the car. This may include things like matching the paint in the new parts with the rest of the car, matching the panels and trim, and aligning the car properly. Don’t forget about the fact that the shop will probably also need to restore the electrical wiring and the electronic devices in the car.

There actually is quite a lot to do to repair your vehicle to the way it was before the accident and it takes an experienced group of technicians to do the work.It is very common for cars to need extensive diagnostic services before the repairs can even be done. For example, your car may need to undergo a special computer diagnostic in order to determine how extensive the damage really is and what needs to be repaired.

In order to correctly perform the diagnostics, your car will need to be hooked up to a special machine which will evaluate all of your car’s main systems. This means that a shop will need special diagnostic equipment in order to run the tests. Of course, not all shops will have the necessary equipment.

You may not think that it is necessary to do such testing if the damage in the accident was not that bad. Remember, not all the damage to your vehicle will be immediately apparent! In most cases, you will need to go to an auto body shop in order to get such repairs done.

Your insurance company may give you several shops to choose from, or you may need to find a shop on your own. You may even need to take your car to a special shop to get a repair estimate before getting the repairs done. In order to find a good auto body shop, you may want to check with friends and family. No doubt they have been in an auto accident and have found a good local shop.

You can also look online for a shop. However, before deciding on a particular vendor, you should do a little bit of homework. Here are some things to consider.

  • Is the shop certified?
  • Are the mechanics and other staff members certified in their field of expertise?
  • Are their certificates of qualification displayed in the shop?
  • Does your insurance company work with the shop?
  • Is the shop a member of the Better Business Bureau or other organization?
  • Does the shop offer warranties and money back guarantees?
  • Does the shop use new parts or used parts to repair the damage?
  • Does the shop offer a courtesy van or rental car for your use while they are repairing the damage to your vehicle?
  • Is the shop close to your job or home?

Remember too that you often get what you pay for. Don’t choose a shop simply based on price. Instead, choose a shop that is qualified to do the repairs.

Auto Body Repair 101

Most cars will need some type of auto body repair in their lifetimes. Whether its from a major collision or just a small dent from every day use, there’s a good chance your vehicle will need to visit the auto body repair shop at least once. If you do experience some damage to your car, it is crucial that you take it to a professional body shop for the repairs. Though most damage is easily visible, in some accidents, it is possible to have damage that is hidden. To get it done correctly and safely, it must be done by a professional.

The first step in the auto body repair process is to take your car in for a consultation. The repair specialist will assess the damage and prepare a detailed estimate. The estimate should be very detailed and list the cost for each part and the amount of labor charged. Original equipment (OEM), used, or after market parts may be used – it is important to know exactly which type of part they are planning to use in your repair. Auto body shops are also accustomed to working with insurance companies – they can handle your claim for you and contact the insurance company when needed.

Sometimes additional repairs are needed after they begin working on your vehicle. This shouldn’t happen often, but it is a possibility, even with a reputable and trusted repair shop. The shop manager should call you and explain in detail why the new repair is needed and why it wasn’t found during the original inspection and estimate. They should also offer to contact your insurance company with this new information and a revised estimate of the cost.

The final step in the auto body repair process is the paint job. A poor paint job will make even good repairs look bad. If you need only small areas painted, the auto body shop will carefully blend the new area with the old paint. Having only a small area painted saves big money, but you must have a professional do the job. Poorly matched paint will not blend with the rest of the car and affect the overall appearance of the vehicle.

Though we don’t usually think of auto body repair as important to the safety of the vehicle as we do when we think of engine repair. However, shoddy repair work can definitely affect the safety of the vehicle. Make sure to have your work done at a professional shop. Getting a referral is the best way to find a good auto body repair shop, but it also helps to look online for reviews and testimonials when selecting a auto body shop to do the repairs on your vehicle. Get the job done right and you’ll have many happy hours and safe hours of driving!

Auto Body Repair Estimates Demystified – The 5 Most Common Items on a Repair Estimate

So you’ve decided to get an estimate from a local body shop. These days, most body shops will use a computerized estimating software to write your estimate. If the shop you have chosen does not use a computer to write your estimate that should be cause for concern. This is not meant as a jab at those long time owners and technicians and I am not implying they are “backward” or “luddites” or ignorant. Its more for accountability. Computerized software is now standard in our industry and insures a more uniform, unbiased and accurate appraisal for how long things take to repair. For instance, I was talking to a shop owner just a couple days ago who was remembering with fondness the good old days when he would routinely get 15+ labor hours to repair frames on cars that nowadays he only gets 4-5 hours on. The truth is however that 4-5 is the more accurate and fair rate (depending on the job of course it could be more or less). And since consumers and insurance companies are billed by the hours on an estimate the old days of falsely inflating hours are gone.

When it comes to auto body repair the vast majority of line items on an estimate will be one of 5 things:

1. R & I. This is shorthand for “remove and install” and means to take something off your car and then to re-install it later. Parts that are not damaged may need to be temporarily removed to access another part that was damaged or more often so the panel it is taken off of can painted properly. For instance, say your electric motor for your window stops working. The interior trim panel will need to be temporarily removed for to gain access to the motor to see if it can be repaired (not likely!) or replaced. Or perhaps a molding needs to be removed from your door before it is painted only to be put back on later when the paint dries. One caution here is that if panels are being painted and you’re not being charged for R & I the shop may be taping them up which can actually cause peeling or flaking months or years later. So don’t be surprised if for instance a headlight needs to be removed to properly paint a fender. You should actually be more concerned if its not. FYI: R & I times are typically set to industry standards by estimating software and are not discretionary.

2. Repair. Repair (aka ‘Rpr’) is the most discretionary item on an estimate and typically the amount of time it takes to repair something will be underlined or asterisk-ed (*) to indicate this. This is where an insurance adjuster might say a dent will take 3 hours to fix and a technician might say it will take 4. There’s no hard and fast rule here and this needs to be negotiated between insurance adjusters, shop estimators and possibly even the technicians doing the job. My dad who has been in the industry almost 40 years taught me a long time ago that a dent which is about the size of a man’s fist should take about 3 hours to repair. From there you can adjust up or done for various things like a body line that runs through the dent (add an hour) or the dent has no creases and is accessible from the inside and therefore can be mostly popped out (subtract time). The reason these times are so important is that insurance companies are paying shops based on the number of hours on the estimate.

3. Replace. Replacing parts, sometimes shorthanded to ‘repl,’ is not a discretionary item on an estimate and is governed by industry standards or what shop folks call “book time.” If the book/software says it takes 3.5 hours to replace that bumper then that is what the insurance company will pay. No more and no less. It is pretty well standardized with only slight variations depending on which software is used and then it only differs by very little.

4. Sublet. Sometimes there are things that an auto body shop will send to someone else (typically a mechanic who takes care of more under the hood items) to perform and this is categorized as sublet. Popular things for shops to sublet out are air conditioner recharging and 4 wheel alignments when the suspension is damaged. The reason this is sent out typically is that the equipment and space required for these operations are not cost effective for a body shop. And when it comes to deeper engine repair, oil and paint don’t mix! Oil and grease can quickly ruin a paint job. So, shops that say they can do “everything” typically can’t do everything well.

5. Miscellaneous. Under this category will go small charges like “hazardous waste removal” (about once a month we pay someone to pick up and dispose of our hazardous waste in the safest way possible) and “car cover for overspray” which pays for paper, tape and plastic to cover the vehicle during the painting process so paint over spray doesn’t go all over the windows or adjacent panels.