Are you looking for information on how to find the most qualified collision repair shop for your car?
The best time to find a quality collision repair center is before you have an accident.
THE 3 MOST IMPORTANT ITEMS IN FINDING A QUALITY COLLISION REPAIR CENTER
1. Choose a shop that will work FOR YOU, with your insurance company.
This is so important! Today most insurance companies have DRP's (direct repair shops). DRP shops sometimes make great concessions to insurance companies to be on their "list". Do not let your insurance company tell you where to have your car repaired! Make it YOUR choice. It's essential to have an advocate who has your best interests in mind to negotiate the repairs of your vehicle, and someone to insist the car not be repaired if they feel it will not be safe.
2. Find a Shop you can Trust
On rare occasions a customer will ask to include damage costs that are clearly not a part of the accident, or pad an estimate to save a deductible. A shop that would consent to either of these requests is committing insurance fraud, and cheating the insurance company. If they are unethical enough to cheat them, they are probably cutting corners on your repair and cheating their customers also. Find an honest ethical shop, whom you can trust.
3. Visit a Shop, Look Around, Ask Questions
For the most part, I think the majority of shops cleaned up their dirty body shop image a few decades ago, but some customers still have an unfavorable image of body shops. I personally feel it very important to promote a better image of collision repair shops, but that is only one item to consider when choosing a repair shop.
Ask for a shop tour, is the shop clean, keep in mind it is a working shop, there is going to be some dust, etc, but it should be orderly.
What kind of cars are they working on? A restoration shop might not be the best place for you to have your new model Lexus repaired, and likewise if you have a 69 Camaro, you might not want it restored in a shop that is working on all late model collision damage.
Investments in equipment are essential for any car that has sustained major collision damage. It is absolutely necessary the shop have a computerized frame measuring system, and proper welding equipment. To obtain the best finish on a car, a shop should have a down draft paint booth. Ask if they have this equipment.
Technicians- Frequently customers are concerned if their painted panels will match. They often do not think about the repairs being done prior to painting. While color match IS important, having a qualified body tech measure their cars' unibody or weld their quarter panel on is of much greater importance. Ask a few questions about the shops technicians. How long have they been employed there? Did they go to technical school? Are they receiving current training? Do they have specific training on your make of car?
CSI – A reputable shop should be having Customer Satisfaction Indexing done by a third party. Ask to see a recent report.
Shop Warranty on Repairs- Any reputable shop will offer a lifetime warranty on all collision repair damage
The best way to find a quality shop is simple, personal referrals, ask your friends, family, online, dealership referral or all of the above.
A few more things to know:
On Estimates – There is no need to obtain multiple estimates for your insurance company. If you want to shop around, that's fine, but if you have a shop your comfortable with, do not waste your time collecting multiple quotes. Fact is, in most cases the insurance company will write their own estimate anyway, and that is ok, the shop will use that as a starting point.
Differences in repair estimates are common. A lower estimate may not include all necessary work. If you're not sure why one estimate is different from another, ask your estimator. A good estimator should write an estimate for all obvious damage. There is often hidden damage that is impossible to see without disassembly of the vehicle.
On Insurance Company Estimates- They are often written low. With the economic conditions today, many customers are 'cashing' out. Their preliminary estimate is low, so if you do 'cash out' on a claim, you will not be getting the full cost to repair your car. On the other hand, if you have your car repaired, the insurance company will re-inspect for additional damages and pay for necessary repairs.
Parts- OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) is best- but most ALL insurance companies will write for a remanufactured bumper cover if a car is more than a year or so old. This is an OEM bumper that has been damaged and repaired. This is not something to go to war with your insurance company over. Aftermarket sheet metal is, even though aftermarket parts now have some standards, from a repair shops perspective, they do not fit well and I would not use one to repair my car. Used parts – if you have an older car that is repairable, your insurance company might request a used part, this is sometimes acceptable, this might keep your car from being totaled, and it is at least an OEM part. On an older car we will consider using a used door, but never a structural panel that needs to be welded, like a used quarter panel.
On Insurance Companies- There are certainly some way better than others in regards to both the consumer AND repairers. As a body shop owner, there are some companies I would never consider for my personal vehicles because of the way they do business with collision repair shops. There are also a number of companies that will work with any shop and pay for necessary repairs. It's important to also do your homework on insurance companies.
On Substandard Insurance Companies- If you have the very unfortunate circumstances to have an accident with someone who has a substandard insurance company, just give up, and go through your own insurance company, ASAP. These companies should not even be allowed to be in business and you would never want to even come close to one of their "preferred shops".