Once you have gotten into an accident, a bunch of stressful and challenging tasks suddenly pop up. The main issue is that you will need to handle the repair process. Among that is the search for a trustworthy and reliable auto body shop in New Jersey to repair your vehicle. Whether your car was in a collision with another vehicle, suffered damage from a weather event like hail, or encountered a collision with a deer, selecting the right body shop is crucial for ensuring a safe and reliable repair. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve compiled some essential tips and questions to consider when picking an auto body shop after an accident.
You Have Options
One of the main questions people ask is if they can choose their own body shop after an accident. The answer is yes. You have plenty of options. Know that you are not obligated to go with the shop recommended by your insurer. While your insurance company may suggest a body shop for your convenience, ultimately, it is your decision where you want your car repaired. In other words, you have three main choices: a dealership collision repair center, an independent auto body shop, and the repair centers affiliated with direct repair programs, or DRPs.
Dealership Collision Repair Centers
Did you purchase your vehicle from a dealership with a body shop attached? This may be a decent option when you need high-quality repairs. Dealerships are usually more familiar with the specific models that they sell, which ensures that the repairs are going to also be done according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Furthermore, dealerships have easier access to factory-authorized parts, sourced directly from their local distribution centers.
The downside to choosing a dealership collision repair center is that it may be more expensive and time-consuming.
Independent Auto Body Shops
An independent auto body shop is not affiliated with a specific brand of vehicle but will instead work on any kind. Many independent auto body shops like Elmer’s Auto Body are I-CAR certified and also certified for collision repair by various manufacturers, ensuring that your car will get the dealership experience, regardless of its make or model. Independent auto body shops are just as capable of receiving OEM parts, though this process may take a bit longer than it would a dealership.
Some independent auto body shops may be connected to your insurer, but if they aren’t, you need to keep that in mind. You will need to work closely with your insurance company to ensure they agree to cover the repair costs at your chosen shop. Plus, if your insurance company’s estimate is lower than the shop’s estimate, you may have to cover the difference out of pocket.
Direct Repair Programs
The main benefit of going along with the auto body shops recommended by your insurer is the convenience. The claims process is streamlined, because the insurance company and the shop have established protocols, making paperwork and communication more straightforward. This also means that DRP shops do not have to wait long for claims approvals. Insurance companies will also negotiate lower repair rates with DRP shops, potentially saving you money on your deductible or out-of-pocket expenses.
This convenience can also be a disadvantage when the DRP shop begins to prioritize cost savings, potentially compromising the quality of repairs and the use of genuine parts. Sometimes this happens because the insurance-recommended shops may follow the insurer’s guidelines more strictly than the car manufacturer’s specifications, leading to potential issues in the future.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Collision Repair Center in NJ
Now that you know your options, let’s discuss what separates a quality collision repair center in NJ from the rest of the competition. There are several factors to consider that will ensure you make the best choice and receive top-quality repairs. Here are those factors:
Certification and Training
Look for a collision repair center that holds certifications from reputable organizations, such as I-CAR (Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair) or ASE (Automotive Service Excellence). These certifications indicate that the technicians have received proper training and are skilled in repairing vehicles to industry standards.
Experience and Reputation
Check how long the collision repair center has been in business and inquire about their track record of successful repairs. Online reviews and testimonials from previous customers can provide valuable insights into their reputation and customer satisfaction.
Use of OEM Parts
Ask whether the collision repair center uses original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts or aftermarket parts. OEM parts are identical to the parts installed by the car manufacturer and often provide a better fit and performance.
Appearance and Organization
A well-organized and clean repair facility reflects professionalism and attention to detail. An organized shop is more likely to handle your repairs efficiently and maintain a high level of quality.
If possible, visit the collision repair center in person to assess their facilities, staff, and overall impression. This will give you a firsthand look at how they operate and whether you feel comfortable entrusting them with your vehicle.
Ask the Right Questions
When visiting an auto body shop in NJ (or their website) for an estimate, ask key questions to ensure your car will be repaired to its original condition and covered by a comprehensive warranty. Inquiring about the shop’s experience with your car type, their repair process, and the possibility of additional costs after repairs have started will help you make an informed decision.
Here are some questions to below to help guide your conversation so you can pick a body shop you have confidence in:
- How soon can you start work on my vehicle? If you need your car repaired promptly, inquire about the shop’s availability to begin work on your vehicle.
- How long will the repairs take? Understanding the expected duration of repairs will help you plan for alternative transportation, especially if your insurance policy covers rental car reimbursement.
- What is the warranty on the work? Ensure that the shop offers a warranty on the repairs to give you peace of mind that they stand behind their work.
- How do you color match paint? Modern auto body shops use computer-driven color-matching technology, but it’s essential to ask about their process, especially for metallic or dark-colored cars.
- Who is responsible for payment? If you’re paying for the repairs out-of-pocket, consider whether aftermarket parts might be an option for cost savings. If filing an insurance claim, check if the insurer specifies a particular shop.
- Do you use factory-authorized or aftermarket parts? Understanding the type of parts used in the repairs is essential for maintaining the quality of the repair work.
- Are you a certified collision facility? Certified collision repair networks ensure that technicians receive proper training to handle the complexities of today’s vehicles.
Schedule an Appointment with a Trusted Collision Repair Shop in NJ Today
How do you pick a body shop after an accident? By prioritizing the safety of your vehicle and your satisfaction. Choose the convenient choice but also the shop that promises to work with you and your insurer, even if they are not part of a DRP program. Elmer’s Auto Body, an I-CAR-certified collision repair center in NJ, has all the services and state-of-the-art equipment required to repair your car and restore it to its pre-accident condition. We never cut corners and always use OEM parts. Give one of our four conveniently located NJ shops a call today to schedule your appointment. Let’s get your car back on the road.