In a perfect world, you could trust those who service your vehicle to do the right thing. You expect nothing but your damaged car to be returned to you in perfect condition. What you don’t suspect is that the auto body shop may be going behind your back, covering up damages, and sticking you with a more expensive repair bill. There are plenty of auto body shops that upsell and behave unethically, but that does not mean every business acts this way.
You may be wondering why it is so hard to find a trustworthy auto body shop. Don’t worry. With some research, you can find a reputable auto body shop that will be transparent and honest about vehicle repairs. Just follow the tips we have outlined for you in this article.
Do Some Online Investigation
As with most things people purchase these days, the internet is a wonderful tool for gathering information. Rather than going right to your favorite internet search engine, check out their mapping services, since this will help you pinpoint local businesses. Or, you could access an online database compiled by your insurance company or AAA. Such resources help you seek out auto body shops based on their rating as well. You can then cross-check these ratings with other websites, such as Angie’s List or the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Keep in mind that solely relying on online reviews is not always the best idea. There are some companies that will pay people to write 5-star reviews about them on their testimonial section, skewing their overall rating. Sometimes, companies will remove or conceal poor ratings from their site and others to hide the fact that they have had less than satisfied customers.
So, go to multiple sources—and not just online ones, either.
Listen to Your Friends and Family
Any organization worth it’s salt will have people talking about it. To find a quality auto body repair shop, first, turn to friends and family. These people will be able to give you recommendations based on their experiences. Use their advice and start doing some preliminary research on those auto body shops. Some may be too far for you, but you can still look at their services, their website, and their reviews to glean some information on what you should be looking for in a local auto body shop.
Though you can ask your insurance company, remember that they play a role in the quality of repairs. Avoid shops that may be partnered with insurance companies and adjusters, since they usually go for the lowest common denominator in repairs.
Get More Than One Estimate
Before selecting the auto body shop you want to work with, ask for each candidate to provide you with an estimate. Quotes may vary, but if there are any extremes, such as the one appearing too cheap or too expensive, cut them out. A trustworthy auto body shop is going to use standardized quoting. This means that every quote should be about the same when it comes to the cost of parts.
Here is another reason to do some research: you need to understand the estimate. Most will outline the steps required to make the repairs and the cost of each. If you don’t understand what is required, the auto body shop may take advantage and claim they found new damages to increase the cost.
Interview The Mechanic
Asking the wrong questions can get you duped quickly, no matter where you are. The same thing happens in auto body shops. You gloss over the critical questions that could tell you how the business operates, and you end up slammed with the bill you didn’t expect. Get the information you need with targeted questions.
Here are some examples:
- What kind of warranty comes with your auto body repair work? If yes, how long does the warranty last, and what is covered?
- Will I receive calls, texts, or emails about the status of my vehicle’s car status?
- How long do you estimate my repair to take?
- Will the paint match the rest of my vehicle?
- Do you use OEM parts?
- Does the auto body shop have certifications?
- Will you put everything in writing (estimate, contract, and payment policy)?
These questions help you understand whether the auto body shop is qualified and professional. For instance, the minimum warranty that should be applied to their work is one year. Anything less disqualifies the auto body shop, and you should look elsewhere. Some auto body repair shops will have lifetime warranties on some aspects, like paint.
Establish Trust With Your Chosen Auto Body Shop
Even with all the research and questions you ask, there may be a kernel of uncertainty that remains—and that is okay. Just make sure you address it before you hand your vehicle over to the auto body repair shop. Go for an in-person visit. When you arrive, be sure to go straight to the mechanic with any remaining questions. This is one of the most important steps in finding a respectable auto body shop because you can now speak directly to the individual who will be responsible for your car while you are gone.
Trust your gut. If something does not feel right, it probably isn’t.
With your car at the shop, the technicians should be working to make you as comfortable as possible. A trustworthy auto body shop will have people keeping you informed, whether you are present or not. If you do not hear anything from the auto body shop within 1-2 hours of dropping off your car, you can give them a call to check on the progress. Also, do not be afraid to ask about seeing the repairs already completed. The mechanic should have no qualms about letting you see what they are working on or if they found any other damages when repairing your vehicle.
All of this will help establish trust. And remember, if at any time you feel you are not getting the best service, you can have your vehicle taken somewhere else. You do not have to accept any repairs you do not want or didn’t originally agree to. A good auto body shop will respect your wishes and consult with you should they find anything that would add to the original estimate.
Finding a Good Auto Body Shop is Possible
Yes, locating a trustworthy auto repair shop can be difficult, especially with the costs of repair, labor, and the presence of insurance companies breathing down the technicians’ necks. The best way to find a good auto body shop is to understand the process and stay alert. You can find shops that are committed to quality and do not balk at insurance companies, but you will have to call around and ask questions.
Elmer’s Auto Body is proud to say that we are an OEM certified shop with thousands of satisfied customers at every location in South Jersey. Give us a call or fill out the contact form to learn more about our services or request a consultation. We promise complete honesty and transparency.