How to choose a body shop

As a vehicle owner, your chances of needing the services of a collision repair and refinishing facility are greater than you think. Whether it’s from storm damage, rust and corrosion, acid rain and harsh sunlight, or an automobile accident outright, the risks are real. It’s wise, then, to know how to select a body shop.

Many times when people are involved in an accident they think “the insurance company will take care of it for me.” In fact, it is your responsibility to choose who will do the repairs for you. This is not a choice that should be taken lightly, as it can involve protecting a major investment.

I. Preliminaries

  • Start shopping for a body shop before you need one; you can make better decisions when you are not rushed or in a panic.
  • Ask friends and associates for their recommendations. Even in this high-tech era, old-fashioned word-of-mouth reputation is still valuable.
  • Check with your local consumer organization regarding the reputation of the facility in question.
  • Ask about the number of complaints, if any, and determine how the complaints were resolved.
  • Always try to visit the shop before making the decision on who will repair your vehicle.

II. At the Shop

  • Ask if the shop if they work on your vehicle make and model.
  • Ask how long the shop has been in business.
  • Look for a neat, well-organized facility with modern equipment. Many vehicle manufacturers recommend specific repair procedures and equipment for the repair of their vehicles. Ensure that the facility you choose is trained in these procedures and has the proper equipment.
  • Professionally run establishments will have a courteous, helpful staff willing to answer all of your questions.
  • Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area: civic and community service awards, membership in the Better Business Bureau, customer service awards.
  • Many times you can see the vehicles being repaired by the shop. Are you impressed by the type of vehicles the company is repairing and the way the vehicles are being handled?
  • Also look for signs that the staff is technically competent, such as trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced course work training from I-CAR (the Inter-Industry ASE Conference on Auto Collision Repair, and certifications—a national standard of technician competence issued by the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
  • All policies, guarantees, and methods of payment should be posted or explained to your satisfaction.

The backbone of any shop is the competence of its technicians.

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