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.

Tips And Tricks For Windshield Repair And Windshield Replacement

No one likes to think about a chipped or damaged windshield. This is partly due to a misconception that any damage requires a windshield to be replaced and that insurance companies will refuse to cover the cost of the job. In actuality, windshield repair is often the solution to problems and not only is it reasonably priced, it is often covered in the comprehensive portion of auto insurance.

The biggest thing to remember when you’re dealing with a damaged windshield is to get your insurance company involved as soon as possible. Informing them right away that you have some damage, as well as how the damage happened, will help get the ball rolling as far as an estimate and repair work. Many insurance companies require that you use a certain company for the replacement or that you gather estimates from a few local businesses. Understanding their requirements will smooth the way to a relatively easy process.

Chips and small cracks, up to the size of a dollar bill, are prime candidates for windshield repair. Repair jobs can be done quickly and most companies now offer mobile repair units which can come to address the problem without upsetting your schedule. The repair is done by injecting a special epoxy into the crack or chip. This epoxy is formulated to be both strong and clear so that once it dries and if buffed it is nearly impossible to see where the damage had once been. The structural integrity of your windshield is never compromised by a repair done professionally with quality products.

Windshield replacement jobs are much more complicated and this is why so many insurance and windshield companies encourage drivers to get problems repaired quickly. The entire process for a windshield replacement can actually take up to a week since the windshield usually needs to be ordered in before work can even begin. Once the new windshield has been delivered, the old windshield must be removed and all of the seals need to be clean and checked and, in some cases, entirely replaced. Once the new windshield is in place the adhesive used to mount it needs plenty of time to dry. Thus curing process can take several hours or even as long as a full day. Once the adhesive has dried the entire windshield needs to be inspected for safety and authorized by a safety professional before the customer can drive away.

There are those who say do it yourself windshield repair kits are just as good as a job done by a trained professional. In fact, these home remedies – which range from using crazy glue or nail polish to buying kits available online – are not covered by insurance and should the process go wrong or result in further damage, you will be responsible for the cost of the entire job. Additionally, these fixes do not ensure that your windshield will be as strong as it would be if treated professionally and this can place both the driver and any passengers at risk in case of accident or if the chip or crack spreads and weakens the windshield as a whole. Quick fixes may be tempting to try but it’s a gamble that can end up costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in windshield replacement bills.

Seven Tips For Finding Excellent Car Service

The best car service is preventative, not patchwork. The last thing car owners need nowadays, with increasingly busy schedules, is frequent trips to the mechanic. It’s especially frustrating with easily fixed or recurring problems. Here are some tips to avoid breaking the bank the next time your vehicle breaks down.

Check Out Reviews First

With the spread of customer reviews on the internet, it’s quite easy for a consumer to find personal accounts of a business with a quick search. On occasion, reviews will be staged or not representative of the service, but a perusal of a range of reviews may give you a reasonable expectation of what to expect. An old fashioned review from a trusted friend – especially a car lover – never hurts, either. You can’t put a price on experience.

Shop Around

Most mechanics will offer free estimates. It helps to get the estimate for your car service on paper as proof. This document can also be used as leverage with other mechanics. Sometimes the cheapness of the price can suggest poor workmanship, but you certainly don’t want to be swindled.

Ask To See A Certification

ASE is the most common certification, and a trustworthy business should have no issue presenting you with such certification. This will establish a baseline of experience and knowledge. A shop that possesses an American Automotive Association rating is a good sign too, as it guarantees that they have been pre-screened by an objective source.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions, Even If You’re a Novice

Beyond a price estimation, it is very helpful to ask questions that you may consider basic. Such as, which parts will need to be replaced? How long will the work in question take to complete? Can I see the problem area of the car? Even more intensive questions about the process of fixing the vehicle should not fluster a reliable mechanic. These questions will make you feel comfortable with the car service and prove to the mechanic that you take your car’s care serious.

Go With Your Instinct

This tip is harder to pin down, and will mean different things to different people, but it remains relevant. Simple things, such as the cleanliness of the shop, may be symbolic of the overall service. Furthermore, if a mechanic is giving vague answers or treating customers in a hostile manner, it’s probably a clear sign to get out while you can. Getting a car fixed is rarely a pleasant experience, so there’s no need to add extra stress to the process.

Find a Location Near Your Home

This is especially important if you don’t have a friend or family member to follow you to the mechanic and drive you home. Finding a route home or to work via public transportation may be pivotal, depending on how long the car will be out of commission.

Warranties and Specialists

This tip will mainly pertain to people whose cars need to be fixed at a dealership. It also applies to those who own a car that has to have specialty parts replaced. Do research and determine whether a mechanic has expertise in your particular make and model. Additionally, an honorable mechanic will supply warranties on new parts. Make sure to establish this warranty before they get to work on your car.

Totaled Car or Not – 5 Tips so Your Carrier Declares a Total Loss

Your totaled car is sitting in the backyard when you get a

telephone call from your insurance adjuster. They will fix your car! In many

occasions this is good news, but when your car is nearly destroyed, and the

insurance company wants to patch it together and give it back to you, then

you’ve got a problem.

Think about it. The car will never be the same. If you want

to trade it in or sell it, you will probably have to take a substantial

reduction in price to be able to get rid of it. You also need to consider the

safety aspect of the car. Will your car ever be as safe as it was before the

impact?

In most accidents, cars can be fixed with no major

problems, but when you have a totaled car (or you are almost there) and the

insurance company will repair it and return it to you, you can be faced with an

uphill battle.

Insurance adjusters decide if you have a totaled car or a

fixable car. They need to first determine the value of the car and then

determine if the repair estimate is less than 70, 80, or even 90% of the car’s

value. So how do you protect yourself? Here are five simple tips.

Tip # 1: Ask for the repair estimate. Getting the

repair estimate will show you what the insurance company thinks is wrong with

your car. Review the estimate. Make sure the car will be painted and that all

the necessary parts to fix it are accounted for. If you do not know mechanics

that well, take that estimate to another shop and ask them to review it. You

will be surprised when other shops will tell you that your car should not be

repaired.

Tip # 2: Make sure you have the insurance company

account for all the cost associated with fixing the car before they start

working in your car. Have them account for all the parts and the shipping cost.

Make sure that the parts they are buying are actually in inventory. In many

cases, insurance adjusters price a part, but cannot find it. This will make you

wait longer and they would have to pay for more rental.

Tip # 3: Ask for a “tear down” so you know that

there is not a totaled car but a car that can be properly fixed. When insurance

adjusters and body shops write estimates, the do not get under the damaged

parts. They only look and estimate the damage that is visible. A tear down is

the process of taking off all the damage parts and looking to see if the parts

below are also damaged. More often than not, hidden damage will appear, and this

will make the estimate of damages higher and taking you closer to a totaled car.

Insurance companies do not want to pay for this tear down.

But if you insist, they will pay for it. This is a good idea anyway for two

reasons. The tear down will most likely than not increase the repair estimate.

You will also know if the integrity of the frame and chassis were compromised in

the impact.

There is no question that the body shop can put the car

back together. The question is if a fixed totaled car will be safe to be on the

road. Make sure some one looks at the mechanical and structural integrity of the

car.

Tip # 4: Use the rental expense to your advantage.

If your totaled car is going to get repaired, then it is likely that it will

take 20 to 30 days before your vehicle again. That is only counting body work

and paint and that all parts are on hand at the time the mechanics start

working. It will take longer if you have mechanical problems.

The insurance company will be looking at a rental bill that

could be over $1,000, depending on the limits of your policy. We have seen

rental bills of $2,000. If you have a totaled car, then the insurance company

will only have to pay up to three days of rental (sometime less, depending on

your state). They will be saving significantly if they do declare a total loss.

Tip # 5: Research your state law for

diminished or diminution of value claims. If you are making a claim against

your own insurance company, some states will allow you to ask for the difference

between what the car was worth before the accident, and what it worth after it

is repaired. Many states do not allow for first party claims like this one.

However, the restrictions only apply to first party claims. If you are making

this claim against the insurance company of the person that hit you, then the

claim will be allowed. Also, if you are making a uninsured property damage claim

against your own carrier. The claim will be allowed.

Click here for more tips on how to handle a totaled car claim.