5 Tips For Picking
An Auto Body Shop
Body shops will tend to give you pricing that varies a lot from one another. You can see drastic pricing differences from $500 to $2000 for the same job. Why is there such a big gap? And when is it OK to choose the cheaper shop?
We have been working with cars for over 17+ years in Los Angeles and here are some of the tips for choosing the right shop to work on your car — particularly when you’re the one paying the bills.
The cost for repairing a car damaged in an accident can vary widely among different body shops, depending on the size and location of the business.
Comparing estimates from competing body shops is a good way to keep the cost down.
Labor cost is always the majority of what you pay for any auto body repair.
1) Word-of-Mouth Is Everything
Any business can advertise today, but you’ll do better with a shop that friends, family or acquaintances recommend. A business with numerous positive reviews over time is key. And it might not be the biggest or most popular shop in your area.
Many times, you may go to a shop that doesn’t advertise but through word of mouth you find out that their expertise is sound and will take their time to answer all your questions and give you the best solution for your auto body repairs.
2) Consider the Operation’s Location and Overhead
Labor costs can vary by a lot. Make sure you ask what the current labor hourly rate is as this can fluctuate a lot depending on the neighbor the shop is located in.
Large body shops with a lot of front-office workers probably have to charge higher rates to pay their staff. While service delivered by front-desk folks, managers and foremen gives some people a feeling of confidence in the business, it can result in estimates that are padded with non-essential work. When they’re charging more labor hours at a higher rate, your bill can add up quickly.
3) Get Several Estimates
Taking your car to several auto body shops for repair quotes is the best way to avoid overcharges, it is also essential that you feel comfortable and confident in the professional you’re speaking with. Pricing isn’t everything, good customer service will give you peace of mind.
And while it’s important to protect against being overcharged, you shouldn’t simply take the lowest quote. “You might get some kind of midnight guy who will say he can do it really cheap,” he says. “Stay away from those guys, because there is something they’re not doing. You could have major problems down the road.”
4) Ask the Right Questions
When choosing the right body shop, it’s important to be prepared with the key questions to determine if this shop is professional or not.
For example, does the shop provide a written warranty? And if so, for how long? What does the warranty cover exactly?
A one-year warranty is a minimum. Always remember to ask and get it in writing. Another key question is whether the shop carries fire and theft insurance. You want to be sure you’re covered if your car is destroyed, stolen or burglarized. Don’t forget to ask how long the shop has been in business. Make sure it has a business license.
You will also want to know about the materials the shop intends to use. Are new, used or aftermarket body parts going to be used? New parts are obviously the best and used parts are fine, though they don’t offer the savings people imagine. Depending on the damage to your vehicle, aftermarket parts can save a lot of money and can be just as good as the ones that come from the original manufacturer. If paintwork is involved, ask how many coats of paint and clear coat the shop intends to use.
5) Follow Your Gut Intuition
Finally, it’s important to trust your intuition about the shop you’re considering. If a shop isn’t busy, maybe that’s because customers are avoiding it because of shoddy repairs. If the place is really dirty, cluttered or disorganized, this might reflect the kind of work you could expect the shop to do with your car. You’ll be more satisfied with an auto repair shop where the owner communicates well and is straightforward with customers.
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