What to Expect When You Bring Your Car to an Auto Body Shop
An auto body shop performs repairs to the exterior of a vehicle after it has been damaged in a collision. These shops also repair any internal damage that may have occurred in the crash.
It’s important to know what to expect when you bring your car to an auto body shop, and how to work with one to get the best repair results. The best way to avoid any problems is to find a shop that does quality work and employs knowledgeable staff who can explain the work in terms that make sense to you, and represent you as your advocate with insurance companies.
Getting an estimate from the right shop is key to making an informed decision about where you want to have your car repaired. The FenderBender experts recommend finding a shop that has a reputation for providing honest and fair estimates.
A good body shop will take the time to give you an accurate, line-by-line estimate that includes all the work you need done. The experts warn that some body shops will attempt a “bait and switch” to get you in the door with a lowball estimate, then add in additional charges later. This is a shady technique that can end up costing you more money in the long run.
Once the vehicle is in the hands of a body shop, its components are inspected and disassembled to determine what needs to be repaired. The technicians will then develop a plan for the entire process. This will be a blueprint to follow for repairing the vehicle in a systematic fashion, Andy says.
The process begins with the dismantling of each part to look for any dents or other surface defects. This is a critical step because dents and other defects can lead to more serious damage as the vehicle sits in the shop.
After the car has been dismantled, the body shop will use an electronic measuring system to ensure that all of the parts are replaced in a straight line and that your car’s frame has been restored to factory standards. The frame, which is the structural framework of the vehicle, must be in good condition to prevent a swaying or bouncing ride while you’re on the road.
A skilled body shop will then paint the repaired areas to match the original color of the car. This is a crucial step, as the original paint can fade over time.
Many body shops have switched from solvent-based to waterborne paint, which is healthier for the painters who use it and more economical. Jeff Stantz, the body shop manager at New Port Lincoln Mercury in Florida, told FenderBender nearly a decade ago that he has seen his shop’s cycle time reduced by two days since it began using this environmentally friendly paint.
It’s critical for shop operators to track KPIs and improve their processes, because insurers are looking more closely than ever at these metrics. Darrell Amberson, the president of operations for Minnesota MSO LaMettry’s Collision, told FenderBender in an interview nearly a decade ago that tracking and improving shop management functions is vital to a successful business.