Fixing that ding, dent or scrape is costly and time-consuming – but it’s worse when the car bodywork repair isn’t done correctly and you need to have the original work redone. Poor auto body repair will also reduce your ability to sell or trade in your car for a top price. That’s why it’s crucial to educate yourself before you entrust your car to an autobody repair shop. These five things will help you choose the right bodywork shop:
Choose a body shop carefully. You want to make sure you have quality work at a reasonable price and any available warranty to cover the work. The best way to do so is to find the shop’s certifications and associations. The National Auto body Council (www.autobodycouncil.org), the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (www.scrs.com) and the Autobody Craftsman Association (www.acanw.com/) are good places to start. Your local consumer protection council or Better Business Bureau can also help you determine which shop is a good fit for your needs. Of course, be sure to ask for references, too.
Ask for a detailed plan on how the repair will be completed. One of the ways that auto experts can tell a car was repainted is through paint splatter on window sills and on other auto body parts. Scratches that indicate sanding is also a tip off that the car was repainted. Ask for a detailed account of how the car’s auto body work will be done. For example, will parts near the damaged area be removed during the work so that they are not damaged or spattered with paint? Don’t forget about door handles, nuts, bolts and logos. Also, ask where the parts that are removed will be stored. You want to be sure they’re protected. The auto body repair service may note that masking — covering body parts that are near the area that is being fixed — is preferable. Ask why and be sure you’re comfortable with the answer. If not, go elsewhere.
Find out how paint will be removed. There are various methods for removing car paint, including sanding and chemical removal. It is important to use the least aggressive paint removal method to ensure the car’s body is treated as gently as possible. Talk to the auto body repair shop specialists and find out how they determine what method is used and why. Also, be sure to ask how much paint will be removed and why.
Don’t leave paint matching or parts to chance. All of the apologies and refunds in the world won’t make up for a paint job that is a few shades off. Paint matching is one of the most difficult tasks done in an auto body repair shop. Find out what system the auto body shop uses to ensure your paint match is exact. The same holds true with parts. Don’t assume that the shop will use all new parts. Ask and make sure the parts don’t come from a junkyard or other car.
Get all estimates in writing. Make sure to spell out exactly what will be done, what parts will be used, how paints will be chosen, and of course what time frame is needed to complete the repair.
While car bodywork repair can seem like a mystifying process, it helps to be well informed and proactive when taking your car in for repairs. By following the advice above, you’ll have a much better chance of getting the repairs done right.