If you drive a car, at one point or another, you’ll likely be involved in at least one accident in your lifetime. Hopefully, it’s a minor one.
However, most of us who live in the Los Angeles area know that it’s common to spend almost half an entire day on the roads. Angelinos will have at least more than one accident in their lives. As a result, one day you’ll likely need to use the auto body repair services of a shop at some point.
So how do you know how to find the one? Should you go with your insurance company’s recommended body shop or choose your own?
Your decision in choosing a body shop is more important than you realize. You’ve paid thousands of dollars for your car and selecting a body shop that will perform quality work matters to you. In this article, we will go over a list of steps that you can take to make sure that you are choosing a shop you can trust to do a good job on your repairs.
Get some background information for the shops you’re considering. You can begin your search online by going to Yelp, Google, and others review sites. Read online reviews from other people. Search for the ones that discuss your car make. Learn what others are saying about their experience. What was their overall impression of the shop?
Customer reviews can range from horrible to “too good to be true.” Be cautious shops that have a handful of perfect reviews. Instead, look for ones that have accumulated a substantial amount of reviews over time. Usually, there will be a mix of good, bad, and everything in between. However, if the overall sentiment is positive, then it’s very likely people have had a good experience.
Visit the body shop’s website or call them directly to find out if they offer a warranty on their repairs. Don’t rely on your car manufacturer’s warranty to protect you against defective work. Mistakes happen, but a quality shop will offer a guarantee on any work they do. Read the warranty and ask the shop for any clarification on the details of their policy.
Insurance companies usually have a preferred network of body shops they like to recommend. This shop may seem like the most convenient option for you. After all, if it’s the shop they recommend then it’s likely they can be trusted.
However, it’s still important that you do your research on the shop. Be aware that you don’t have to choose them to work on your car. Your right to choose your own shop is the law.
The best way to choose the right one is to compare more than one. Get an estimate from your insurance carrier’s recommended shop but also get several independent evaluations.
Don’t focus on just the total cost for repairs but look for what the repairs actually entail. Body shop estimates are usually broken down by “line item” descriptions. These sections describe specific repairs and the parts that need to be replaced. If anything is unclear, ask questions. Try to obtain at least 3 to 5 different estimates to get a complete comparison.
When it comes to car brands, not all body shops are created equal. Just like some mechanics may specialize in German or Japenese makes like Nissan, body shops also have their specializations. Whether you drive a foreign or domestic brand, choose a shop that is certified for your car.
These shops have received intensive training for the brands they service. They will know everything about your car and be familiar with every minor issue that can come up during the repair process.
While it may not be possible, try to visit at least a couple of body shops before you make your final decision. In doing so, you’ll get a sense of their level of competence and professionalism.
How can you tell if this particular shop fits the bill? Start by assessing your very first interaction.
While some of these details may seem trivial, they count for a lot. How a body shop treats its customers is a strong reflection on their work ethic and their commitment to providing quality service.
Also, if you happen to venture into the work area, look at the cars that are there. Does it look like they’re backed up?
Having a large inventory of cars may not necessarily be a bad thing. It could mean that this particular shop is popular with its clientele. On the other hand, if they have a large inventory and seemed to be short-staffed, this could be a problem. We’re not expecting you to be a professional auditor here, but by looking around the shop’s grounds, you can get a good feeling for the quality of their body work.
In addition to car brand certifications, body shops can also earn other recognitions. For example, some shops may earn third-party certifications from parts manufacturers or paint companies.
A noteworthy certification is I-CAR, which stands for the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repairs. This is a nonprofit international organization that is focused on improving the quality of collision repair. The organization receives its funding from school tuitions. I-CAR is recognized as a respected and unbiased organization dedicated to training, education, and advancing the knowledge of everyone in the industry.
Collision centers will usually display their certifications in a visible area like the lobby. If you don’t see any, ask them about their qualifications.
By following these tips, you’ll feel much more confident that you are choosing a quality body shop that is honest and will deliver on its promises.
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