It’s always such an unfortunate event, but car accidents happen. Even if you are the safest most prepared driver out there, other people are not and that can affect you. With any luck, all parties involved will be able to walk away and avoid injury.
Your vehicles, however, may not. If this is the case and you need a full recovery back to your pre-collision condition, how do you know which auto body collision repair shop to choose? While you know you have to make your decision sooner than ideally prepared for, how can you decipher which will be the best option for your vehicle? Below are some things to look for while quickly searching for an auto body shop.
Find a Certified Specialist
Chances are that if you don’t have a specific mechanic you regularly use, you will have to choose one quickly and haphazardly, neither of which is ideal. Some keywords you want to be on the look out for while google searching are: certified specialist, i-Car, ASE, or OEM trained.
These are programs are ranked nationally and have extremely difficult and rigorous testing required of them to pass as certified. You will also want to look up the brand of car you drive and consider either the dealership or their certified service team.
Finding auto body shops or mechanics with certain qualifications will help turn your less than ideal situation into a better one. A shop with certified i-Car, ASE (National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence) or OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) technicians means that they invest in the proper education of their employees. This kind of training is quite expensive and it can be predicted that any company which is going to invest in the best trained staff is likely not going to be cutting corners.
With new advances in technology occurring so frequently, it is easy to become outdated and overwhelmed with newer models. Certified technicians are trained and expected to stay on top of their education so they always on top of new techniques and have more experience with newer models. Also, their recertification depends on completing specific courses in a designated time, so it is in their best to invest the time and money into staying ahead of the technology and competition.
Because of strict government regulations and scrutiny from consumers to make stronger, safer vehicles with better fuel economy, engineers are under pressure to almost redesign the wheel. Seeking out exotic metals like ultra high strength steel, aluminum and carbon fiber which are relatively new materials require specific construction practices and precise repair procedures.
The specificity of the materials and construction often also require the use of certain tools which your local shop may not have. Investments in such tools and equipment will be found in nationally regulated and certified auto body shops. Unfortunately, local ‘corner shop’ mechanics may not be able to afford the kind of equipment that will be necessary for your car’s repairs.
If you want to stay local, that’s fine, but make sure you’re aware of their certifications and training to ensure you’re getting the best.
Before a shop can become certified, the manufacturer must send a representative to either train, or inspect equipment. From there, every now and then they can make appearances to help train new employees, make sure your shop has the appropriate most recent equipment and knowledgeable staff. Testing for certification is rigorous and isn’t likely to let up. With government regulations becoming more and more strict in the interest of safety, more shops are becoming certified just to keep business.
Cost of Price
As can be expected of any auto repair shop which is nationally certified, it is going to cost more than most other places. However, remember that what is being paid for is expert experience. This is what you want when getting your vehicle back to pre-collision condition. Depending on your deductible and who’s at fault, you may not be paying for any of it. It is also important to keep in mind that the insurance companies do not get to choose where you bring your car to get fixed. It is your car, not theirs. You call the shots.
If you are still at a loss, or just not wanting to do any research but looking for suggestions, your insurance company will always have a backup repair shop who they will normally use. If you ask they will suggest this auto body repair shop. Be warned, it may not be certified to your specifications, but if you already don’t care about research, then you are likely willing to take what you get.
Choose Your Dealership Instead
Choosing a dealership is going to bring you a lot of the same results that a certified specialist will, in fact, dealerships are certified specialist. It begs the question, why wouldn’t I just bring it to my dealership?
Many people in this situation would say that you should bring your vehicle to your dealership. Afterall, you are less than likely paying for repairs and the dealership is the best option for have experts with experience work on restoring your vehicle to pre-collision condition. So what are further benefits to using a dealer instead of certified specialist?
Apples and Oranges
If you ask dealers, they will say it’s as simple as apples and oranges. You wouldn’t replace an apple with an orange. Its the same with OEM’s.
Let’s say you own a Chevy. Chevy’s aren’t foreign nor do they normally require finicky parts, but lets say that the garage you take it to has a part, an orange, that will work but it isn’t an OEM; an apple. The car was made with an apple, has since run on an apple but now is getting an orange to do the apples job. How will it respond to the sudden change in fruit? Follow?
A Chevy dealership is going to not only going have the parts you need, but will have the OEM, original equipment manufacturer. They have tested and certified all their parts for their vehicles so there is history and experience that part will work.
Another reason to choose your dealership is that your dealership uses brand new parts necessary for the job. Unfortunately, a lot of garages don’t. And while recycling and repurposing is an excellent practice, it has nothing to do with restoring your vehicle back to pre-collision condition.
Local Garage Shops
Please remember that local garage shops are absolutely a vital part to the contribution local economies and should never be disregarded. If you have a person that your family has been using for generations and you really happen to trust, by all means, do not break ties with that person.
There is an unfortunate truth that while vehicles become more technologically advanced, they require different tools and equipment that are very expensive. Your local auto body shop may not be able to afford these new tools. Certainly, there are plenty of great local repair shops who stay on top of all new education as they see the growing demand for it.
The hope that all shops can keep up with new demands is alive in local economies and it is important that it continue to flourish. However, it is equally important to know when specific attention is required to certain conditions.
The reality of collision repair, especially in today’s cars, is that today’s vehicles need extra equipment and services to fully restore the vehicle to its previous condition. These are the times in life when you don’t want to be frugal. For all we expect from our vehicles, putting a cheap price tag on safety just isn’t acceptable.
Take the time to really choose the correct auto body repair shop. You won’t be disappointed.