How to Select The Best Auto Body Shop For Your Damaged Car

Have you ever wondered how two different shops can quote you two night and day prices for the same work? It is actually quite common for a person to get wildly distant estimates from different body shops, even on something that is typically expensive, depending on a number of various important factors. 

Some people think that it depends on the quality of the work, that you get what you pay for. But is this always the case? Is the most expensive auto body shop always the best choice? When is it okay to choose a shop that provides considerably better service at less cost? There are some things that are important to know when considering which auto shops are worth the cost.

Let’s look at the features of a good auto shop. First, you need to know that there are vastly different shops that specialize in different things. If you have damage to your tires, maybe it’s better to see a tire shop. However, if your car was in a collision or suffered possible internal damage, you may want to see a shop that covers more comprehensive care.

Next, the shop you want will give you a complete and thorough diagnosis. No mechanic should be satisfied with diagnosing your car’s problem solely on your description of the problem. If a mechanic does seem to be telling you what you want to hear, make sure to get a couple of other professional opinions.

Another good feature of a good auto body shop is that it does not work for an insurance company. Insurance companies prefer to use these corporate chains because they will cut corners by doing things like using parts that are cheaper and possibly of less quality, to save the insurance company money. The insurance company guarantees the shop consistent business, so they both benefit, often at the expense of the customer.

Yet another great feature of a good auto shop is the reviews. Now, this has to be put into context, because there are some people who will always give negative reviews. Some competitors will even try to sabotage a rival by posting fake negative comments. But look for patterns. If several different customers comment, in different ways, that the quality of the work is good, but the mechanics do not finish in a timely manner, there is probably some truth there. If there are fairly consistent high compliments all throughout the comment box, that is likely a good sign.

One final attractive feature a good auto shop must possess is a penchant for good customer service. All good business enterprises are acutely aware of how crucial customer service is to their success. If a business gives poor customer service, then that means that it is not serious about staying in business. Do not patronize businesses that cannot give you the service you deserve as their customer.

By customer service, we mean how the business treats its customers. Are you standing in line for a long time while a couple of service clerks are chatting it up? Are you waiting for a long time before someone even attends to you, even though there is no line? Are the mechanics and those taking your information pleasant?

Do you get the feeling that the people who work there are glad to see you and want your business, or that you are just another number, or worse, that you are an annoying inconvenience? This is important because there is a direct correlation between good customer service and good quality work. Smart businesses that put a great deal of effort into making sure that the quality of their work is exceptional, usually put that same effort in making the customer feel that they are the greatest asset to their businesses.

According to research…

Unless you get very lucky, the absolute best way to find the right auto shops is to do your homework. Never choose the first shop you see. But neither do you have to spend weeks Gathering data on every shop in your area.

Always ask around. Start with friends and family or close acquaintances who have your best interest at heart. They will tell you the truth, regardless of whether it helps or hurts the business, clientele.

For example, an uncle who has used an auto body mechanic several times could tell you why he or she is the best person to fix your car. Maybe the auto body mechanic will make sure to give you his best service because Uncle Pete sent you. Shop around first. Make sure you get as much information as you can before you decide on a particular auto body shop.

You better shop around 

One of the best ways to save yourself possibly hundreds or thousands of dollars on a repair bill while getting the highest quality service is by asking the right questions. Before you go to an auto body shop, call ahead and ask to speak to the manager. She will have the most knowledge and be able to answer virtually all of your questions to your satisfaction. If they are charging you for taking off the hood or something that is in a gray area, maybe you better shop around.

I’m sorry, what’s the question?

What questions should you ask? “How long have you been in business? Who will actually be working on my car? Do you provide a written warranty? What is covered in the warranty? Do you offer any discounts?” As a rule, you should look for auto shops that offer at least a two-year warranty. A one year warranty is the bare minimum.

Other questions involve the auto body shop’s business license, whether the car parts will be new, used, or original factory parts. Does the business carry theft or fire insurance? Don’t be afraid to be nosy. After all, it is your hard earned money being spent.

Some auto body shops have discovered that they can get people to pay more when warning them that they could be out of a lot of money if they don’t get some new gadget, procedure, or part added to their car. That is why it is always good to get a second or even third opinion as to what is wrong with your car. Look for auto body shops that offer a free diagnosis.

If you suspect that you are being quoted a price that is unusually high, check it against the prices that other auto body shops charge. It may be a good idea to show one auto body shop the lower prices of other shops to see if they will match it or do better.

Understand the services

What exactly are you being charged for? If you think it is only for parts and labor, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. Some shops charge exorbitant prices for anything that is not explicitly listed in their quotes to you.

Consider the size and location of the shop and how many people appear to be working there. If the shop is spacious, if it is located in an upscale area, or if you see a lot of people working in the front office, there is a good chance that you will pay considerably more because those factors cost the business more money. That is a major overhead.

You may do much better going with a smaller operation with less overhead. Remember, you don’t need an auto body shop with expensive decor or cutesy flowers in the front office, especially when they put it on your tab. Ask the mechanics to explain exactly what they had to fix and how long it took them.

Estimates, please

You should get the estimates from the auto body shop and look over the suggested services, closely considering the proposed costs for labor and parts. Labor will usually be a significant part of the overall costs. Other fees like miscellaneous charges will be listed farther down, usually, last.

Inquire about all of these fees. If you notice some major inconsistencies, like excessive costs for labor, you can then raise concerns or just eliminate that shop from your list. Do not accept vague responses to your inquiry about estimates. If you do not get a specific price estimate, insist on it.

Some businesses won’t give an estimate because they can then charge you a whole lot more since they never agreed upon one. Once you get your estimate, write it down, to the penny. Show them that you wrote it down and if there are any disagreements, you can always refer to it.

Finalize the shop

After carefully considering all of your options, employ the information you acquired to select the best auto shop for your particular vehicle. After you have chosen an auto shop and the work is completed, make sure to fill out any evaluations offered on the kind of experience you had. This will help the shop to improve its service to you and other customers. When you require trustworthy, reliable, and professional auto body service don’t hesitate to contact us at Salerno Auto Service today!