Diamond Certified Companies are Rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise.

  • Why this rating is the most accurate.
  • Our editors gather deep company info.
  • Performance is Guaranteed.

Diamond certified companies are top rated and guaranteed

Why Trust Diamond Certified Auto Body Shops Rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise®?

These vehicles are being repaired at a Diamond Certified auto shop.

You are the customer. If your goal is to choose an auto body shop that will deliver high customer satisfaction and quality, you’ll feel confident in choosing a Diamond Certified auto body repair shop. Each has been rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise® in the most accurate ratings process anywhere. And you’re always backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. Here’s why the Diamond Certified ratings and certification process will help you find a top rated auto body collision center and is unparalleled in its accuracy, rigor and usefulness:

1) Accuracy: All research is performed by live telephone interviews that verify only real customers are surveyed, so you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews.

2) Statistical Reliability: A large, random sample of past customers is surveyed on an ongoing basis so the research results you see truly reflect a Diamond Certified company’s top rated status.

3) Full Disclosure: By clicking the name of a company above, you’ll see the exact rating results in charts and read verbatim survey responses as well as researched articles on each qualified company.

4) Guaranteed: Your purchase is backed up with mediation and the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee, so you can choose with confidence.

Click on the name of a Diamond Certified company above to read ratings results, researched articles and verbatim customer survey responses to help you make an informed decision.

More than 200,000 customers of local companies have been interviewed in live telephone calls, and only companies that score Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise®–a 90+ on a 100 scale–as well as pass all of the credential-based ratings earn Diamond Certified. By requiring such a high score to qualify, the Diamond Certified Resource eliminates mediocre and poorly performing companies.

Learn more about how automotive companies qualify for Diamond Certified

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Mike Ludeman is 24-year industry veteran and owner of Western Auto Body, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2005. Mike can be reached at (707) 861-8756 or by email.

Mike Ludeman

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Mike Ludeman: A Man of His Word

By Matt Solis, Editor

SEBASTOPOL — Mike Ludeman didn’t always know he would end up in the auto body industry, but his interest in the subject has been with him his whole life. “I’ve always been fascinated by cars,” he says. “My dad was in the auto parts business, and in high school my older brother and I spent a lot of time working on vehicles.” However, it wasn’t until his late teenage years that Mike realized he could turn his passion for cars into an actual career.

“Graduation was coming up and I knew I wasn’t going to college, so I thought, ‘What am I going to do with myself?'” he remembers. “I had some family issues at the time, and it was either go in the right direction or stray off in the wrong direction, so I took it upon myself to come up with some kind of career. There was an auto body program at my high school that I dabbled in, and after I graduated, I went to vocational college in Wyoming to learn the trade. Around 1984, I jumped right into the industry.”

After working his way through the ranks as a car washer, detailer and prep person at several companies, Mike found himself at Western Auto Body in 1991 as head painter, a job he performed for eight years until the shop came up for sale. “The previous owner tried to sell it several times and wasn’t able to get a buyer, and I thought, ‘I don’t want to paint cars forever. What’s the natural progression of all this?’ The next step was to purchase the business. That was in 1999, and we’re still going strong more than a decade later.”

Mike’s responsibilities as the owner of a successful auto body shop keep him fairly busy, but he always prioritizes spending time with his two young sons. “Right now, I’m heavily into baseball season with coaching Little League,” he says. “I coach on my 9-year-old’s team and I help out on my 6-year-old’s team. My sons and I also do a lot of summer activities like RVing and boating, and I’m a member of a 4-wheel drive off-road club and a dirt bike club.”

As the son of an auto worker himself, Mike says he’d love to eventually teach his boys the intricacies of the trade, but for now, he’s content to keep them involved with more age-appropriate activities. “My kids are definitely interested in cars and like watching what I do, but I haven’t exposed them to it too much because they’re so young. I’m not keeping them sheltered from it, but there’s plenty of time for that.”

Mike’s approach to auto body work mirrors his overall approach to life: be honest in everything you do. “A man doesn’t have too many things besides his word,” he says. “That’s really important—if you’re honest and stick to those guidelines, the results might not be immediate, but you’ll eventually see the benefits of living your life that way. It translates nicely into having a business and dealing with people. I like to build relationships with my customers instead of going the quick route and trying to be transactional, and the only way to do that is through honesty and backing up my word.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could drive any car, what would it be?
A: Probably a Bugatti. I like BMWs, too…the new X6 is pretty nice.

Q: Favorite sports team?
A: San Francisco Giants. My sons and I go to a couple games a year, and we’re always watching on TV. We’re definitely a baseball family.

Q: Favorite music?
A: It’s been country lately, but I like a wide variety of music. When we’re out on the boat, we listen to a lot of hip-hop and current stuff. My all-time favorite group is Beastie Boys.

Q: If you had a theme song, what would it be?
A: “Fight for Your Right” by Beastie Boys. Why not?

Q: What’s one movie that people would be surprised you’ve never seen?
A: I don’t really watch movies, actually. I’ve never even seen the Lord of the Rings movies, for example. If I have two hours of free time, I’d rather go do something else.

Q: Dogs or cats?
A: Dogs. We have a Blue Heeler names Buttons who’s almost 17 years old and a Chihuahua named Chili to back that up.

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Maintain the Exterior Finish of Your Car


SEBASTOPOL — What’s the first thing you notice when you’re shopping for a new or used car? Usually, it’s not the engine, brakes or steering column; it’s what the outside looks like. That’s why maintaining the exterior finish of your… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Two Ways To Maintain Your Car’s Value

Complete Video Transcription:

SEBASTOPOL — Host, Sarah Rutan: There are a couple ways to keep your car looking its best. So, we're in Sebastopol with Diamond Certified Expert Contributors,… Read more




  • 3M

  • Axalta

  • Spies Hecker

  • PPG Paint

  • Sikkens

  • Pro Spot

  • Standox

  • PPG Envirobase


  • DuPont

Acura MDX
BMW 3 Series
Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Equinox
Chevrolet Impala
Ford F-150
Ford Fiesta
Ford Focus
Ford Mustang
GMC Sierra
Honda Accord
Honda Civic
Honda CR-V
Honda Odyssey
Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai Sonata
Kia Sorento
Mazda MAZDA 3
Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Nissan Altima
Nissan Murano
Subaru Outback
Toyota Camry
Toyota Corolla
Toyota Prius
Toyota RAV4
Toyota Sienna
Toyota Tacoma
Volkswagen Jetta

dent repair
bumper repair
car door repair
auto paint repair
auto collision repair
auto frame repair
truck grill replacement
vehicle trunk repair
paint chip repair
automotive painting
windshield repair
fender-bender repairs
car spoiler repair
custom auto body work
headlight cover replacement
car wreck repairs
auto totaled repair
vehicle hood replacement
running board repairs
bumper replacement
fender flare replacement
truck tonneau cover repairs
auto glass repair
hubcap replacement
door ding cover-ups
car crash repairs
automotive side panel repair
vehicle frame straightening
truck tailgate repair

Agua Caliente
Alexander Valley
Bodega Bay
Boyes Hot Springs
Camp Meeker
Duncans Mills
El Verano
Fetters Hot Springs
Fort Ross
Glen Ellen
Mark West
Monte Rio
Rio Nido
Rohnert Park
Russian River
Russian River Meadows
Salmon Creek
Santa Rosa
Stewarts Point Rancheria
the Geysers
Sea Ranch
Two Rock
Valley Ford
Villa Grande
Vineburg and Windsor


The following industry associations and consumer agencies have additional information about auto body repair shops in Sonoma County.

American Automobile Association (AAA) (www.aaa.com)
Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) (www.carcrash.org)
Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) (www.aftermarket.org)
Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) (www.autoserviceproviders.com)
Auto Body Parts Association (ABPA) (www.autobpa.com)
Automotive Composites Alliance (ACA) (www.autocomposites.org)
Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) (www.aiag.org)
Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) (www.a-r-a.org)
Automotive Service Association (ASA) (www.asashop.org)
Automotive Service Council (ASC) (www.ascca.org)
Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) (www.asecert.org)
California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) (www.autorepair.ca.gov)
California Autobody Association (CAA) (www.calautobody.com)
Independent Automotive Damage Appraisers (IADA ) (www.iada.org)
Independent Auto Body Association (IABA) (www.webspawner.com/users/complaints)
Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) (www.i-car.com)
Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) (www.mema.org)
National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) (www.natef.org)
Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) (www.sae.org)
Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) (www.scrs.com)
Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) (www.sema.org)

Know What You Want
Determine What You Want From the Sonoma County Auto Body Shops

Before you make any phone calls, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for. Some vehicle owners have found that it helps them to write down their goals and keep a list of questions and expectations so that they can present a clear case to the car body repair shops they interview. Ask yourself:

  1. Do I want a Diamond Certified company that is rated best in quality and backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee?
  2. What is my overall goal in getting my car, truck or minivan repaired (major collision damage, fender-bender repair or new auto paint to cover scratches and auto body dings)?
  3. What is my budget?
  4. Will my auto insurance cover any or all of the body work?
  5. What characteristics do I want in an auto body shop? (This can include communication skills, quick turn-around time for car body repairs, warranty coverage, follow-up service and long-term results in the appearance and drivability of your vehicle.)
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What To Ask In Person
What to Ask When You Bring in Your Car for Body Repairs
  1. How long will the car collision repairs take?
  2. Do you coordinate with other Sonoma County auto body shops if you can’t complete all of the collision repairs yourself? Does that affect any warranties?
  3. What contact information do you have for me and what do you need in order to reach me with updates about my car’s body repairs?
  4. What can I do to make this process faster and easier?
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  • What To Ask References
    Gain Insight from Past Auto Body Shop Customers

    All Diamond Certified collision shops have undergone a ratings process that most other companies can’t pass. If you want quality from a body auto repair shop, you’ll have confidence when choosing Diamond Certified companies. You can read Diamond Certified reports on all certified companies, including verbatim survey responses. And you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews because all research is performed by live telephone interviews of a large, random sample of real customers.

    If you can’t find a Diamond Certified vehicle collision shop within reach, you’ll need to conduct some research of your own. If you do, the shops should be willing to give you a list of recent customers you can call. Keep in mind, though, that references provided by the shops are not equal in value to the large random sample of customers surveyed during the Diamond Certified ratings process. That’s because references are “cherry-picked,” not randomly selected from all customers, so shops are likely just giving you a few satisfied customers to call.

    If your do call on references, specifically ask for a list of their 10 most recent customers (to help avoid them giving you only customers they know were satisfied) and call those references. Ask general questions about their experience with the shop’s personnel as well as specific questions about the car body repairs. Sample questions you may want to ask are:

    1. Were you satisfied with the performance of _(company name)_ auto body shop?
    2. What type of car body repairs or auto paint repairs did they do for you?
    3. Were you pleased with the turn-around time?
    4. If you live in a smaller town such as Bodega, Penngrove, Fulton or Sebastopol in West County was your auto body shop willing to tow your car or truck to their collision repair garage?
    5. Did they work with you to get the repairs done exactly as you wanted them?
    6. Were you happy with the communication from this shop?
    7. Do you feel the price was fair for the auto collision repairs?
    8. Did the auto body shop help you deal with your insurance company?
    9. Did they provide a loaner car or shuttle service?
    10. Would you go back to this company again if your car, truck or van were in a crash?
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  • Review Your Options
    Find and Hire Qualified Auto Body Repair Shops

    The Diamond Certified symbol has been awarded to companies that scored Highest in Quality in an accurate ratings process.

    By now you’re probably aware that your choice of an auto body repair shop determines how smoothly the repair process will go and the value and quality of your vehicle after the repairs are completed. And since vehicles are often our second largest expense (after our homes), it’s not a decision to take lightly.

    Review the notes you’ve taken from your interviews to determine if one stands out. Pay special attention to the following items:

    • Can an auto body shop in Sonoma County satisfy your requirements for scheduling, body repairs and part preferences?
    • Is the shop you are selecting willing to work with your insurance company while still providing the best outcome?
    • Does the service writer at the auto body shop communicate clearly and effectively?
    • Is the shop as devoted to getting your car back to pre-accident condition as you are?

    If the answers are yes, you can confidently move forward in setting up an appointment.

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  • How To Work With
    How to Get Collision Repair Estimates You Can Trust

    If you’ve found the Sonoma County auto body shop that meets your needs, that’s great news! Here are a few things you can do to get accurate estimates and the quality service you expect.

    Meet with the service writer and discuss the necessary repairs. Remember that the goal of every good auto body shop is to fully repair collision damage. Your car should look and function like it did before the accident.

    When you, your collision repair facility and your car insurance company agree on the needed repairs, the shop should provide you with a written estimate outlining the necessary repairs before the work begins. By law, this estimate must include the total estimated cost for all needed car parts and labor, an itemized list of required parts, and whether the parts used are new or used. Confirm any warranties at this time, as some auto body shops only guarantee certain parts or paints.

    Your agreement is final when you sign the estimate or work order. Never sign a blank or incomplete estimate. The collision shop must get your approval before making any changes to work orders and estimates, so be sure to give the technicians a phone number where they can reach you at all times. Return their calls promptly to keep your repairs on schedule and ensure that you get your vehicle back in on time.

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  • Be a Good Customer
    How Can You Be a Good Auto Body Shop Customer?

    It’s the car body shop’s responsibility to perform a thorough and complete repair job. But you play a big part in the success of your automobile’s repair too. Here are a few simple steps you can take to be a good customer when you take your van, minivan, truck or car into an auto body shop.
    Be clear and upfront with the shop representative. Let them know what the problem is, what outcome you’re expecting from the repairs and specific ways they can satisfy your expectations.

    1. Remember, a friendly smile goes a long way!
    2. Before you leave your car, truck or van at an auto body shop in Sonoma County, restate your expectations and goals, and reiterate to the auto body repair technicians your understanding of the agreement. Most problems with auto repair shops occur because of a breakdown in communication. By being clear about your expectations and theirs, you can avoid most conflicts.
    3. Ask your service writer if you should call to check on the progress of your vehicle body repairs or if he will call you with updates.
    4. Be sure your service writer has a phone number where they can reach you at all times while your car or truck is in for vehicle body repairs. Your repairs will move along more smoothly if your service writer can reach you for any necessary updates or authorizations.
    5. When your shop contacts you, return calls promptly to keep the repairs on schedule.
    6. Pay for the car body repairs promptly.

    Why would you want to be a good customer? Auto body repair shops appreciate customers who are straightforward, honest and easy to work with. Your “good customer” behavior sets the tone from your end and creates an environment conducive to a good relationship. Things may very well go smoother and any problems more easily resolved.

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Check The Work
Check the Body Repairs and Auto Body Painting Work Against the Written Invoice

When the work is completed, all body shops are required by California law to give you a written invoice that details all the work done. This invoice must include:

  1. The name and physical address of the collision repair shop and their registration number.
  2. A list of all auto body work performed.
  3. An itemized list of all replaced parts. This list must state whether the parts were new, used, salvaged, reconditioned, or rebuilt.
  4. The total auto collision repair cost, including the amount due for labor.
  5. Any applicable hazardous waste disposal fees and the body shop’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) number.

It’s smart to compare the written invoice to the work that was actually done. Ask your car repair specialist to show you the repairs, and check them against the invoice. Your shop should be willing to talk you through the process and give you any special instructions for maintaining the collision repairs and new auto body paint. If you have questions about what was completed or how the work was done, this is the time to ask.

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Written Warranties
Ask the Sonoma County Auto Collision Repair Shop for Written Warranties

Before you leave the shop, confirm any warranties. Not all body repair shops back up their work with warranties. But if the shop you’ve chosen does guarantee their work, they should give you a written warranty, including:

  1. The facility name and physical address.
  2. What is covered by the warranties, including whether the shop will replace or repair the parts or give you a refund if there is a warranty claim. Exclusions must be in writing.
  3. Your responsibility if you need to redeem your warranty for vehicle body repairs (if you have to pay for labor, agree to used parts or pay a prorated amount).
  4. Terms of and limitations on the car body repair warranty.
  5. If warranty coverage is transferable to the new owner if you sell your vehicle.
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Top 10 Requests
Top 10 Requests of Sonoma County Auto Body Repair Shops

Auto Body Repair
Auto body repair refers to any repairs to the exterior of vehicles, including dent repair, scratch repair, auto crash repair and fender bender repair. Car body damage can result from vehicle collisions, car accidents and acts of vandalism. Auto body repair shops throughout Sonoma County offer bumper repair and replacement, auto painting and scratch and dent repair for vehicles involved in collisions and auto crashes.

Auto Collision Repair
This type of auto body repair restores vehicles after collisions and auto crashes. Usually, auto collision repairs include frame straightening, auto body work and automotive painting to cover dents, scratches, dings and crumpled auto body exteriors.

Vehicle Dent Repair
Whether from a fender-bender or a careless passerby, car dents can be a nuisance. Auto body repair shops can pull dents to make your car, truck, van or minivan look like new. Automobile dent repair may require vehicle repainting depending on the severity of the damage. Automotive paintless dent repair shops are also available in Sonoma County.

Automotive Painting
Auto body shops provide automotive painting for collision damage repairs and to restore vehicles including cars, trucks, vans and minivans. A new coat of paint can change the look of your vehicle by allowing you to repaint your vehicle a new color or cover damaged areas that have obvious dents, scratches, chips and auto paint dings.

Auto Paint Repair
Automotive painting facilities offer paint matching, auto paint chip and scratch repair, vehicle paint touch-ups and spot painting. Auto paint repair is best used to cover minor auto paint scratches, chips and flaking. Major auto body damage from an auto wreck or car accident is best repaired by hiring a shop to do automotive paint restoration to larger areas of your truck, van or car rather than simple auto paint repairs.

Mobile Auto Body Repair
Mobile auto body and paint repair companies in Sonoma County bring the auto body shop to you. These body shops are at times more convenient than traditional auto collision centers. Mobile auto body repair shops provide minor auto body repairs, dent removal and auto paint repair services at your home or place of work. Some mobile body repair shops offer same-day service for your car, minivan, truck or van and will cooperate with your insurance company.

Bumper Repair / Bumper Replacement
A common request for auto body repair shops is bumper repair to fix bumper dents, fender-benders, and bumper tears and scrapes. Bumper repair usually includes dent removal and repainting. Bumper replacement includes removing and replacing an entire bumper that’s been too badly damaged in a car crash for bumper repairs.

Custom Auto Body Work
Customization is available for new vehicles (usually with custom body kits) and vintage or classic vehicles (also known as auto body restoration). Custom auto body work may take the form of chop jobs (modifying the original frame or body of your car, truck or van) or customized auto paint that takes your vehicle beyond stock auto paint colors.

Auto Upholstery Repair
Auto upholstery repairs are a popular way to improve the comfort and appearance of cars, trucks and minivans, and enhance their trade-in and resale value. Car body repair shops that offer auto upholstery repairs in Sonoma County are knowledgeable about different battings and materials that change the comfort and appearance of your vehicle’s interior.

Auto Frame Repair / Vehicle Frame Straightening
Much more serious than the average dent, scratch or sideswipe, vehicle frames bent in collisions and car accidents require straightening in order to drive correctly. Bent vehicle frames that are not straightened can cause uneven wear on the car or truck and make it more vulnerable in an accident. Only licensed auto body repair shops have the equipment and expertise to straighten vehicle frames after a collision or car accident.

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Glossary Of Terms
Auto Body Glossary

Below are terms and their descriptions that will help you navigate your way through your auto’s repair from beginning to end.

aftermarket auto body parts
Auto body repair parts not made by the original manufacturer. Aftermarket auto body parts are made to fit and function the same as the original car parts, and they’re often less expensive than OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) auto body parts. Some aftermarket auto body parts have been redesigned to increase the performance of your car, truck, van or minivan. Some auto parts stores, like NAPA Auto Parts, sell wholesale auto body parts. These aftermarket auto body parts include car antennas, new vehicle bumpers, car mirrors, new car doors, auto fenders and fender flares, automotive grills, new car and truck hoods, hubcaps, replacement and new running boards, truck tailgates and truck tonneau covers.

Also known as: aftermarket parts, aftermarket auto body parts, functionally-equivalent auto parts, off-brand auto parts, off-make auto parts, performance aftermarket parts, aftermarket body parts, aftermarket auto body parts

auto body repair shop
An automotive repair shop that specializes in repairing the body, or outside, of vehicles. Auto body repair shops restore vehicles damaged in automobile accidents and those that have sustained damage to their exteriors due to vandalism, weather and corrosion.

Also known as: auto body repair shop, auto collision repair shop, auto body paint repair shops, collision auto repair shops, auto body repair services, automotive body repair facilities, collision centers, auto body shops

basecoat / clear auto paint
Automotive paint process in which the basecoat is highly colored and shows through the durable and glossy clear coat. Popular manufacturers of automotive basecoat and clear auto paint include 3-M Automotive, Diamont Auto Paint, Duramix, EZ Mix Cups, GCI Alkyd Enamels and Matrix Auto Paint.

Also known as: basecoat clearcoat painting, base coat clear coat automotive paint, 2 part clear coat, urethane base coat

bumper repair
Auto bumpers are among the most important safety features of your vehicle. Bumpers are located on the front and back of all cars, trucks and mini vans, and they are designed to absorb the shock of a collision or car accident. Some bumpers are designed with crumple zones that flex and bend during a collision to provide better car accident protection. Bumper repair and replacement are common because of the frequency of major and minor car accidents that cause damage to the front and rear bumpers.

Chip Guard
ChipGuard is a chip resistant, protective coating applied to cars, trucks, minivans and vans to avoid paint chipping. Chip Guard is normally applied to the lower panels at the front of vehicles and near the tires. This clear car paint protector keeps automotive defends against stones, bugs and road debris that can damage your automotive finish. 3M Automotive Chip Guard, SEM Chip Guard and StonGard are three of the most popular types of ChipGuard available.

Also known as: auto paint protector, auto paint protector guard, bumper guard, auto paint protector, automotive paint protection film

chipping (auto paint chipping)
Auto paint is said to chip when stones and other debris cause the colored paint finish to break off in small pieces. Auto body paint shops can buff out and refill chipped areas with matching paint to make the damage invisible.

Also known as: auto paint chips, auto paint chipping

clear coat
Clear coat is the top layer of auto paint applied to add shine and protect the colored basecoat. A clear coat does not have pigment added to it, so the color of the auto paint basecoat shows through. PROFIX automotive paints, DuPont auto paint, PPG, ICI, BASF vehicle paints and Sherwin-Williams car paints are the more popular clear coat auto paint suppliers.

Also known as: clear coat paint, clear coat spray, car clear coat, auto clear coat, automotive clear coat, urethane clear coat, acrylic clear coat, epoxy clear coat, clear coat painting, enamel clear coat, base coat clear coat paint, lacquer clear coat, acrylic urethane clear coat

Single layers of auto paint are referred to as a coat of paint.

Also known as: paint coat, paint layer, layers of auto paint

Corrosion happens to the bodies of metal vehicles when the metal is exposed to oxygen and water. Some corrosion appears as rust and causes visible degradation of metal surfaces. Auto paint helps curb corrosion and offers protection against water and oxygen.

Also known as: auto body rust, auto body deterioration, weathering, oxidation, car corrosion

dent repair
Auto body shops offer dent repair for trucks, vans, cars and minivans. Auto dent repair is a method of removing car dents by pushing or hammering them out from the underside of the vehicle. Vehicle dent repair is effective for large and small dents, and may or may not require the application of fresh auto paint depending on the severity of the dent and the condition of the paint surrounding it.

Also known as: paintless dent repair, auto dent repair, car dent repair, dent auto repair, mobile dent repair, bumper dent repair, automotive dent repair, door dent repair, hail dent repair, scratch and dent repair

direct gloss (DG)
Auto paint topcoats that contain pigment and gloss are referred to as direct gloss. Direct gloss auto paint doesn’t require an application of clearcoat, and it protects vehicle bodies from weathering and corrosion.

direct repair program (DRP)
DRP insurance programs are usually an agreement between auto body shops and auto insurance companies. These DRP repair shops agree to repair collision damage using a standardized set of rules and procedures including repair techniques, parts and materials used, warranty coverage and billing practices in exchange for the insurance company directing customers to their cooperating direct repair program body shops.

Also known as: DRP, direct repair programs

New auto paint must undergo drying, where it hardens and becomes a protective coating on the vehicle. Air drying takes place when paint is applied and exposed to air at normal temperatures. Force drying and low-bake are the terms for the process of drying auto paint at low and medium temperatures. High-bake auto paint drying occurs when the air is heated to accelerate drying.

edge-to-edge repair
Edge-to-edge repair is a complete autobody repair for trucks, cars, minivans and vans. This type of auto body repair requires the removal and replacement or restoration of an entire vehicle panel. This is the opposite of car body touch-up or spot repairs, which are possible for damaged auto body panels and auto paint when only a small area is damaged, chipping or removed.

enamel auto paint
A clear or colored topcoat automobile paint that has a shiny finish is called enamel vehicle paint. Enamel auto paints are available in gloss or semi-gloss finishes. Popular brands of enamel auto paint include those by PPG, DuPont, Maxx 2K and DupliColor.

Also known as: urethane enamel paint, auto body paint, auto paints, touch-up paint, lacquer auto paint, acrylic enamel auto paint

fender repair
Van, truck and car fenders are the auto body panels located on the sides of the vehicle in front of the doors. Vehicle fenders serve aesthetic and practical functions. Fender-benders are a common, yet minor auto accident that damages the fenders of vehicles as a result of a collision. Some modern cars and trucks are designed with fenders that are easily replaced because fender benders are so common.

finish coat
Finish coats are the last coats of auto paint layered onto vans, trucks and cars during auto body repairs.

Gloss is the term used to describe how shiny or reflective vehicle paint is. Matte, semi-gloss and glossy are the common levels of reflectivity found in auto body gloss paints.

Also known as: high gloss paint, semi gloss paint, gloss painting, enamel gloss paint, acrylic gloss paint, water-based gloss paint

like kind and quality (LKQ)
Salvaged auto body parts removed from one vehicle and installed on another are often denoted as LKQ on estimates and invoices for auto body repairs. These car body parts rarely come with warranties and are often much less expensive than new autobody parts. LKQ auto parts may be the best option for owners of rare or specialty vehicles that have a hard time finding new auto body parts for their van, car or truck.

Also known as: salvaged auto parts, used auto parts, refurbished auto parts, rebuilt auto parts, LKQ auto parts, car salvage, auto salvage parts

Temporarily covering areas of vehicles that are not to be painted with plastic or tape. Masking should be done carefully to avoid overspray and uneven edges. However, most auto body repair shops agree that masking is not a proper substitute for removing parts of the vehicle such as car mirrors and auto door handles that can create gaps in the paint application that cheapen and weaken a new auto paint job.

Also known as: auto taping, pre-paint taping, pre-paint masking, masking for painting, mask-out paint, auto paint mask, car paint mask, car paint masking

metallic auto paints
Metallic auto paint is standard colored vehicle paint that has fine metallic particles mixed in to add shine and sparkle. DuPont car paints, Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes, Trinity 1945, 3M, Krylon and SEM Paints are some popular makers of metallic vehicle paints.

OEM auto body parts (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
Auto parts made by vehicle manufacturers including Ford, Chrysler, GM, Toyota, Honda and BMW. While they may cost more than aftermarket auto parts, OEM parts usually fit better, last longer and are covered by more extensive warranties.

Also known as: Original Equipment Manufacturer parts, stock vehicle parts, stock parts

The first layer of an auto paint application is called primer. Auto primer is applied to an unpainted surface to protect the body of the vehicle and help the layers of vehicle paint adhere to the surface.

Also known as: base coat, auto paint primer

Primer-sealer is the auto paint undercoat applied to seal underlying layers of paint and adhere the topcoat to the base.

Auto body damage to minivans, trucks, cars and vans is often disguised by primer-filler. It’s a colored material that evenly fills scrapes and gashes and acts as a primer to attract and hold the topcoats of paint to the vehicle body. Primer-filler is most often used on bumpers, car doors and vehicle body panels that have been damaged in car accidents and fender-benders.

Used to fill auto body damage such as gaps and holes, auto putty is a plastic material that can be sanded and painted over. Auto body repair putty is generally used to hide car crash and vehicle accident damage to bumpers, car doors, bumper trim and auto side panels.

remove & install (R&I)
Auto body parts that are not damaged can be removed and installed back on the vehicle after the other collision repairs are completed. This is usually referred to on estimates and invoices as Remove & Install or R&I.

remove & reface (R&R)
Auto body parts that are damaged beyond repair are itemized as Remove & Reface, or R&R. These car, truck, minivan and van parts are replaced with new body parts.

salvage auto body parts
Auto parts taken from recycled vehicles are called salvage auto parts. These are often inexpensive auto repair parts, but they usually don’t come with warranties because they haven’t been repaired or altered so their reliability can’t be guaranteed. Salvage auto parts for trucks, cars and minivans are often a last resort for vehicle owners looking for hard-to-find parts for rare or older vehicles. Commonly salvaged auto body parts include car and truck bumpers, vehicle doors, car body panels and car mirrors.

Also known as: salvage auto parts, salvage car parts, salvaged parts, used auto parts, replacement parts, used car parts

Surface coatings on vehicles are often sanded using an abrasive process to provide better adhesion to topcoats of auto paint.

Also known as: grit sanding, wet sanding, disc sanding, belt sanding, car sanding, paint sanding, automotive sanding, finish sanding, refinishing

The undercoat of auto body paint, which improves the adhesion of the topcoat and seals existing painted surfaces to prevent damage and corrosion.

Also known as: auto sealant, auto paint sealant, auto paint sealer, auto sealants, acrylic sealer, spray sealant, sealcoating

spot repair
Spot repair is possible for damaged auto body panels and auto paint when only a small area is damaged, chipping or removed. Minivan, car and truck spot repair is generally much less expensive than edge-to-edge auto body repair, which requires the removal and replacement or restoration of an entire vehicle panel.

Also known as: auto paint ding repair, scratch repair, auto paint chip repair

three coat auto body paint
This type of auto paint repair includes a basecoat, a colored middle coat and a clear topcoat. 3M, PPG, SEM, VHT, Krylon and Dupli-Color are popular makers of auto body paints used in three-coat auto body paint application on cars, trucks and mini-vans.

The final layers of auto body paint. Topcoat often includes UV light absorbers that protect the auto body paint underneath from fading.

Also known as: clear coat, lacquer clear coat, acrylic topcoat auto paint

A localized auto body paint repair that only covers a small area. Touch up paint jobs usually hide nicks, dings, chips and scratches that occur on car hoods, vehicle doors, bumpers and fenders.

Also known as: scratch repair, scratch removal, auto touch up paint

used auto body parts
Auto parts that have been used and rebuilt, refurbished or reinstalled in another vehicle. Some of the most common used auto body parts installed on trucks, cars and mini vans include used car doors, vehicle hoods, auto bumpers, used trunk lids and vehicle hubcaps.

Also known as: refurbished auto parts, rebuilt auto parts, used car parts

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Frequently Asked Questions
Sonoma County Auto Body FAQ

Q: Why choose a Diamond Certified auto body repair shop?
A: At a time when you most need assurance of a job well done, Diamond Certified helps you choose an auto body repair shop with confidence by offering a list of top rated local companies that have passed the country’s most in-depth rating process. Only auto collision repair shops rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise® earn the prestigious Diamond Certified award. Most companies can’t pass the ratings. American Ratings Corporation also monitors every Diamond Certified company with ongoing research and ratings. And your purchase is backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee, so you’ll feel confident choosing a Diamond Certified auto body shop for your vehicle repair.

Q: My insurance company gave me a list of auto body repair shops in Sonoma County. Do I have to use their shops or do I have a choice of where to get my car’s body repaired?
A: While your insurance company can suggest auto body shops, you have the final decision on where you want to take your vehicle for collision repairs. Your obligation is simply to take your car, truck, van or minivan to the body repair center you prefer and contact your insurance company to let them know where your vehicle is.

Q: I was in an accident. Do I have any say in what parts are used to repair my vehicle?
A: Auto body shops have a variety of different quality materials and parts they can use to repair vehicles damaged in collisions. OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts are the most expensive body parts for the shop to use, so many automatically install used parts, refurbished parts or even salvaged parts to cut down costs. But you do have a choice. If you caused the accident, wording in your insurance coverage may require the body shop to install used, remanufactured or salvage auto body parts in your vehicle. However, you may have the option to pay the difference for OEM parts instead. Talk to your car body shop’s service writer and your insurance company about your specific situation. If the accident was not your fault, you can tell your chosen vehicle collision center what quality parts to install. Ask for OEM auto body parts that will restore your vehicle to pre-accident condition in terms of safety and value.

Q: My insurance company wants me to bring my car to their claims center for an appraisal. Do I have to do this?
A: Insurance companies can ask you to bring your vehicle in to their claims center before taking it to an auto body repair garage, but it is not a requirement. You may take it to them for an appraisal if you wish, but you are under no obligation and may leave your car, truck or minivan at your preferred repair center and request that your insurance company inspect it at the shop.

Q: Can my chosen auto body shop help me negotiate with my insurance company?
A: Most shops are happy to help you navigate confusing insurance claims paperwork. In fact, many will work directly with the insurance company to process your claims, limiting and even avoiding any work on your part. If this is important to you, ask the car body shops you’re considering if they offer that service before you drop your vehicle off.

Q: What is an auto body repair deductible?
A: The deductible for auto body repair is a specified amount of money that you are obligated to pay before your insurance company will pay on your collision repair insurance claim. The deductible amount is determined by the terms of the policy that you and your agent decided on when you arranged to insure your car, van, minivan or truck.

Q: Can auto body repair shops save me from having to pay all or part of my deductible?
A: Honest body shops will never offer to do this. That’s because all insurance holders have a contractual obligation to pay their deductible before the insurance company pays the rest of the bill on every claim. This cuts down on insurance fraud. Some auto body repair shops do offer to bury the deductible or hide it in the cost of the repairs. However, car body repair shops that do this are committing insurance fraud, which is against the law. And customers who ask their auto body repair shop to hide the deductible or go along with this can also be held liable for insurance fraud. Even if your insurance company doesn’t catch you, asking your mechanic to bury the deductible in the cost of your auto body repairs is a mistake. Often times, auto body collision shops who agree to bury the deductible, will take shortcuts in your vehicle collision repairs, meaning your car or truck will lose value and may not be as safe in an accident. It also stands to reason that a collision center that cheats insurance companies may be willing to cheat customers as well.

Q: What if my auto body shop performs the collision repairs incorrectly? Can I get another auto body repair shop in Sonoma County to fix the bad vehicle repairs?
A: You should be very careful about who you hire to repair your auto body damage. That’s because once body collision repairs are done, they’re often very hard or impossible to reverse. That means that a body shop that does a poor repair job can actually end up causing your vehicle to be unsafe. It’s also important to note that insurance won’t pay for the same repairs twice, so even if you can find a collision shop willing and able to undo the shoddy auto body repairs, all costs will most likely come out of your pocket.

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