7 Questions to Ask Your Auto Body Repair Shop Before You Hand Over the Keys

A car is a complicated venture. There are numerous parts, all of which have the potential to malfunction, and the longer you have it, the more likely you are to have things like scratches, dings, and dents. Not only that, but there’s always the possibility of accidents, through your own fault or that of others. When these things happen, and they are sure to at one point or another, where do you go to get them fixed? Auto body repair shops, much like cars, are not all created equal. You wouldn’t just go to any car lot and pick the nearest car, so why would you do that to repair it? It’s important to go into your repair with the appropriate questions, to find out if this company is right for you. Here are seven questions you should ask before you make that decision.

1. How have others fared at this location?

In this modern age, there are reviews for everything. Take a peek at the reviews and feedback of a location before committing. How have other people found them experience? How is communication with the shop while your car is being repaired? Additionally, these reviews may give you insights about other extra services that the shop may offer. Maybe they can send you photos of your car during the process or can text you updates. This may also serve as a warning for hidden fees or less than admirable repair work.

2. How long will the repair take?

This will likely be one of your first questions, but it’s worth mentioning. There are many factors that go into how long a repair will take, so ask the shop about their estimation. This time can vary due to the time of year (such as near holidays), the extent of the damage, or the amount of already existing jobs that must be finished before yours begins.

3. Are there rental cars available?

Being without your car is an inconvenience, being without any car is often impossible. Some auto body repair shops have loaner vehicles that you can use while your car is being repaired, and if not they may have a rental car agency in shop or nearby. Before you make any arrangements of your own, see if you can get a car through the shop.

4. What kind of paint will be used?

As you probably already know, you can’t just say to “paint it red” and expect the same shade of red to come out. Ask the repair shop if they have checked the paint code on the car (this could be located either under the hood, in a door jamb, or in the trunk), and if they are using the exact same color of paint. You don’t want splotches all over your car of paint that was “close enough.” Moreover, and this is a question that not everyone thinks about after a car repair, you need to be informed about when you can wash your car. The process is not quite over once you drive your car away from the shop. The repair shop may give you a clean car, but you need to check about when getting a car wash won’t damage the new paint.

5. What certifications does this shop have?

Auto body repair shops must prove their skills and knowledge in order to receive certifications. Check and see what certifications the repair shop possesses, such as I-CAR and ASE, in order to be sure that the shop can perform safe and reliable repairs.

6. What kind of coverage can I expect?

There are two parts to this question: warranty and insurance. Check if the shop has a warranty and ask about the details. How long does it last? What exactly does it cover? You should also separately ask about things like fire and theft insurance. You want to be assured that if any unforeseen accident were to happen to your car while it was in the shop, such as theft or damage, that you’re covered.

7. How do I pay?

Last but not least: payment. Arguably one of the most important questions, make sure to ask your auto body repair shop how they price out repairs. Some will charge a flat fee whereas others might have an hourly amount. Policies may also include different aspects, such as warranty information, labor rates and materials. Be sure to check on their acceptable forms of payment, to make sure that how you want to pay is available. Shops should have this posted, but make sure to ask to get full details. Don’t be afraid to ask for this information in writing, and when you later get the itemized bill, ask about any discrepancies you may find.

Your car is an important part of your life. It brings you to work, it drops your children off at school, and it takes you on road trips. Don’t drop your car off at any old shop. Assure yourself that your car will be well taken care of by asking these seven questions before handing over your keys.

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