Your car is one of the most critical parts of your life, which makes car trouble one of the most inconvenient things that can happen to you. All of a sudden, you have to change your plans, call and cancel appointments that you might have, and have your ability to drive to work and go to the grocery store removed.
And on top of that, the auto body shop world is ripe with fraud, expensive rackets, and shady business dealings, and now you have to try not to get scammed out of hundreds of dollars just to get your life back on track. Luckily, not all shops are out to swindle you out of your money, and there are some clear signs of a trustworthy auto body shop.
Here are some of the things that you should look for when choosing which auto body shop to go to.
1. They delay your deductible until work is completed
Paying a deductible is a hefty expense and will almost always require some financial planning. And a good auto body shop will understand this.
A good auto body shop will allow you to defer payment on your deductible until the work is done, offer a payment plan to help out with the finances, or even let you delay payments for months or possibly one or two years.
An auto body shop that is willing to have you pay after the work is done is a sign of the auto body shop’s confidence in itself. An auto body shop that doesn’t offer good quality work will try to get you to pay as fast as possible so that you don’t notice the shoddy repairs.
2. They offer contactless delivery
With Covid still around, no contactless delivery is a deal breaker for a lot of people, and a good auto body shop will have multiple options available for pickup.
They’ll give you the option to bring the car into the shop, or they’ll have you leave the keys and one of the auto body shop employees will drive it over and back when they’re done.
This is another way that the auto body shop can instill trust in you, the customer. You need to know that you can trust the auto body shop with your car. Having them drive it to the shop and returning it in perfect condition is one of the best ways the shop can show you the quality and integrity of their work.
3. They are licensed with the Bureau of Automotive Repair
If the auto body shop doesn’t have an ADR license (Automotive Repair Dealer) with the Bureau of Automotive Repair, it should be an instant red flag.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Unlike an unlicensed auto body shop, a shop with a license will be much better organized, trustworthy, and less likely to scam you. The license also holds them to a set of standards that will ensure that you and your car is treated well.
When choosing an auto body shop, look for an ADR license. They’ll be showing it off where anyone can see it. If you can’t see one, stay away.
4. They offer lifetime warranties
A lifetime warranty means that if the repaired part(s) on your car break again, you can take it to that auto shop and they’ll fix it free of charge.
This not only will allow you to spend less money on repeat visits, but it also means that the mechanics won’t do the bare minimum to fix the problem with your car.
Unlike shops that don’t offer warranties, they make no money on repeat visits. In fact, the shop loses money on repeat visits, because the still pays the mechanics but doesn’t make any money off of you.
This offers an extra incentive for the mechanics to make absolutely sure that your car is fixed and safe for you to drive.
5. The facility has tools, a spray booth, and looks professional
Tools and a spray booth tell you two things. 1: Most if not all of the work is done in-house and not outsourced. 2: The spray booth tells you that the shop is qualified to paint cars and do aesthetic touches.
A dedicated spray booth will also tell you that the shop is committed to good quality paint jobs, which usually means they’re committed to good quality work in general. A shop with no spray booth or one with spray cans lying hodgepodge around the shop is reflective of poor work and is an instant sign that you are not getting the best service.
Put simply, a dedicated and quality spray booth is a good indicator of the overall quality of the auto body shop.
6. The shop takes care of mechanical work in-house
You do not want an auto body shop that outsources work. This is a sign of low quality mechanics, poor tools, a general lack of care among the shop workers, or some combination of all three.
Not only will an auto body shop that outsources work take you more time and more money, but the quality of the repair is uncertain at best.
You may trust a certain auto body shop, but do you trust the people that they trust? And if the auto body shop outsources the work to another shop, what’s to stop that other shop from outsourcing the work to another shop? Or even a single, independent mechanic?
Having a shop that outsources work will not only take more time and money from you, but the person working on your car could be someone very far removed from the actual shop you trust. And if there’s one person you want to trust, it’s whoever’s working on your car.
7. They have a certified and high-quality appraiser
The importance of a high-quality appraiser cannot be stressed enough. If you don’t know, an appraiser assesses the damage to your car and determines how much money and time it will take to fix it.
A high-quality appraiser can diagnose everything that went wrong with the car, even issues that might be more subtle like internal frame damage or axle damage. A low-quality appraiser might not take a close enough look at your car and miss something potentially life-threatening.
For instance, say that you have a problem with your steering axle unrelated to any accident you recently got into. A low-quality appraiser might miss the issue with your steering axle and focus only on the damage from the accident. Now the next time you’re on the freeway, the axle gives way and your steering suddenly stops working. A high-quality appraiser will do a complete sweep of the car and make sure to find absolutely everything that could be wrong after an accident.
Additionally, if the appraiser has been certified, you know that the appraiser knows his stuff and isn’t just a buddy of the shop’s owner.
Chances are the extra repairs will be more expensive, but it’s likely that your insurance is paying for the damages anyway. And even if they aren’t, no amount of money is worth your safety or the safety of any of our passengers.
8. They do not charge you for fraudulent repairs
This is one of the most common ways auto body shops will scam you; they’ll take advantage of the fact that you, an average person, do not know much about cars and won’t know to ask the right questions or see through the B.S. A good auto body shop will be transparent and honest with you.
Odds are, if the owner of the shop will show you invoices, explain exactly what you need, and walk you through the process, the shop is honest and won’t scam you out of an extra hundred dollars or so.
Another good indicator of this is to check the reviews. A dishonest auto body shop will have their share of 1-star reviews. One other thing to remember is to not take advice from an independent mechanic or an independent towing company, as they might be part of an automotive scam.
9. They offer a rental car while they work on yours
So your car is in the shop and it’s being fixed. Great. But you still don’t have a car to use. Luckily, a good auto body shop will hook you up with a rental car from a trusted rental car agency while they work on yours.
It’s possible that they’ll even arrange for the rental car to be comparable to the car you gave them (i.e. if you give them a mercedes to work on, the rental car you’ll get will also be a mercedes).
There’s a bit of a running theme with the above points, and that is that a good auto body shop is willing to listen and work with you regardless of the situation you’re in.
If your car is damaged, you want to know that you’ll be in good, trustworthy hands when you take it to an auto body shop. These points above will help you determine which shops are worth your business and which shops you should stay away from. If you choose a shop that follows these points, you will have a scam-free experience and a safe car.