How do you choose the right auto body shop? Start by asking the right questions.
The purpose of asking questions is to help you get a sense of the quality of the auto body shop’s work, as well as the professionalism of its people. Prices for the same auto body repair will vary, so you should always get at least three estimates. In the end, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Cross the shop off your list and move on to the next one.
Are you certified?
This is a good question to ask up front. Body shops that belong to industry organizations tend to be more professional. For example, shops that belong to the Automotive Service Association (ASA) pledge to uphold a code of ethics. Some auto body shops also belong to ACRA -- America's Collision Repair Association. Finally, find out if their technicians are certified to do body work by the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Of course, an auto body shop can still do quality work even if it’s not a member of these organizations.1
Is there a warranty?
This is another good question. Ask it when the body shop hands you the written estimate for your auto body repair. Find out if the shop offers a written warranty on the proposed work. Also ask how long the warranty lasts and what it covers. As a guide, a one-year warranty is pretty standard in the industry.2
How long will the repair take?
Ask the auto body shop to commit to a date or range of dates when your car will be ready. Bear in mind that there are certain factors beyond the control of the body shop, such as needed parts being on backorder. So some flexibility on your part may be required.
Other questions to ask3
The point of asking these questions is to ascertain that you’re dealing with a reputable, trustworthy body shop. If you choose a large regional or national chain, their reliability and quality is normally built in, as they adhere to strict corporate standards.
How long have you been in business?
Will you use original factory parts, aftermarket or used parts (often called “junkyard” parts) on this repair?
How many coats of paint and clear cote are you going to use?
Do you have fire and theft insurance?
You have a choice
It’s up to you to decide which auto body shop to use—not your insurance company. Insurance companies are not allowed to steer you to a particular shop. That said, most insurers keep a list of approved shops that they've worked with successfully in the past. That’s a good place to begin. Ask your friends, family or acquaintances if they’ve dealt with any of the shops on the list. Or ask if they can recommend a shop that they’ve used.
Tip: For the best results, balance the quality of a body shop’s work with how convenient it is to your home or work. Click here to find a quality auto body shop near you.
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