How to Find a Quality Auto Body Repair Shop

by Matt Solis

Car accidents are stressful enough without having to worry about finding a collision repair shop you can trust. But whether your vehicle has just suffered a fender-bender or has been totaled, you need a good auto body repair shop that will make your car look like new again and restore it to its pre-accident condition.

There are many local auto body shops to choose from. For most of us, choosing a shop is a mystery. It’s obvious when the scrapes and dents are gone and the auto paint is new, but how do you find an auto body shop that will do the job right?

Information is the key—it will give you the confidence you need to make an informed decision. But where should you begin?


Know Your Rights When Selecting a Local Auto Body Shop

Whether the car accident was your fault or not, you have the right to choose which auto body shop repairs your damage. Your insurance company may recommend certain shops, but the final decision is always yours.

Most insurance companies have agreements with collision repair facilities. They often give their clients a list of these shops, known as direct repair programs (DRP), to choose from. While this may seem like a handy alternative to researching and choosing a shop on your own, this is one time where information is key. Insurance companies often enforce strict limits on DRP shop repairs that cause the shops to cut corners in the quality of replacement parts and the amount of time they spend on repairs. That means you can end up getting an inferior repair job.

Remember, it’s vital to choose a qualified auto body repair shop for your car, truck or mini-van. This avoids conflict and can preserve the value of your vehicle. Incorrect body damage repairs are often irreversible. Even if another shop can repair the damage that the original body shop has done, you’ll probably have to pay for additional repairs out-of-pocket since car insurance companies rarely pay for the same repairs twice.


Additional Research on Auto Collision Centers 

You’re probably in a hurry to have your collision damage repaired as soon as possible. However, it’s in your best interest to slow down and research local auto body shops to find one that will best serve your needs and repair your vehicle right the first time.

When looking for an auto body repair shop, consider choosing a Diamond Certified company. Only the best auto body shops have earned Diamond Certified by scoring Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise® in the most rigorous and accurate ratings process anywhere. However, if you’re unable to choose a Diamond Certified company, you can improve your chances of finding a quality auto body shop by utilizing the California Bureau of Auto Repair website. There, you’ll find a list of auto body shops that are licensed with the state. While this license verification website doesn’t contain any customer satisfaction research, you will be able to see if the auto body shop’s license has been revoked and review any complaints that have been filed with the state.

Auto body repair shops with certified auto collision repair technicians on staff tend to have more training and up-to-date knowledge of the newer repair methods. There are even Green auto body shops that have earned certifications and completed courses on environmentally responsible collision repair and vehicle painting services. If these qualifications are important to you, make sure to ask the auto body shop for a list of industry recognition and credentials.

Replacement Parts and Insurance Requirements at Auto Body Shops

An important factor to consider when researching car body repair and paint shops is the quality of replacement parts and paint products that each shop uses. Just as it’s your right to choose which collision repair shop to go to for your auto body repairs, you’re usually entitled to request the quality of parts that are used. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) auto body parts are manufactured to repair your car exactly, and since they’re often the highest quality parts, they may last longer than aftermarket parts. Refurbished and salvaged auto body parts rarely come with warranties since they’ve been previously used, so their safety and lifespan can’t always be guaranteed.

If you didn’t cause the accident, immediately tell your body shop that you want OEM parts. In cases where the collision was your fault, your insurance agreement may require the use of aftermarket parts, refurbished (repaired) parts or salvage parts. However, you may find that it’s worth it to pay the cost difference between aftermarket parts and OEM parts in order to get better quality parts for your repairs.

Filing insurance claims after an auto accident can be a hassle. That’s why many auto body shops offer to handle the paperwork for you. They have experience dealing with insurance companies and know the legal do’s and don’ts for writing insurance claims. Having your shop complete the paperwork can be a valuable timesaver, so ask the auto body shops you’re interviewing if this is a service they offer.