Whether it’s time to take care of the rust holes in old “Bessie”, or you’ve had an unfortunate accident, there’s an auto body shop in your near future. You know that not all body shops are the same and that it makes sense to get at least three estimates from different shops.
But now what? Do you simply pick the lowest estimate? If you do, you’ll be very lucky if it turns out to be your best choice. Using the cheapest bottom line to choose a body shop can end up being your most expensive option when you end up with poorly matched paint, early rust or ill-fitting body panels.
Instead, you’ll need to do a bit of homework to make sure you get the most value for the investment you’re making in your car. Here are some tips for choosing the right body shop, regardless of how high or low their estimate:
- Go With Experience – There’s a chance that the best body repair shop ever just opened last week. But when it comes to doing what’s right for your car, the safe bet is to choose an established shop over one that has not been in business for very long. If the company has been repairing cars for decades, they must be doing something right.
- Look for Value-Added Services – Yes, one shop might have lower rates, but suddenly those rates don’t look so good when you need to pay for towing and are without your ride for a week or more. Look for complimentary services, like free towing, free pick-up and delivery and complimentary detailing that can turn your headaches into a more bearable experience.
- Check the Warranty – This is where the lowest price can cost you the most. If a repair shop doesn’t stand behind its work for as long as you own your car, look for one that does.
- Get the Right Match – It’s very important to make sure that the shop uses high quality materials and processes throughout the repair. But, in the end, you’ll only see the paint. If it isn’t right – perfectly matched in colour and finish – you’ll be reminded of the time you picked the cheapest body shop whenever you look at your car.
- Exercise Your Freedom to Choose – If you’re getting your body repair as part of an accident claim from your insurance company, they might tell you to take your car to a certain shop. It’s called a Direct Repair Program (DRP) and many drivers feel obligated to use the auto body shops that are part of their insurance company’s DRP. But you don’t have to. DRP shops work for your insurance company and will often do the least expensive repair possible. Non-DRP shops work for you. You have the freedom to choose your repair shop.
Whether you’re forced to get one due to a collision, or you choose to do some work on your car, the auto body repair shop you choose will make a difference in not only the value you get for your money, but in the enjoyment you get from your vehicle.