5 Questions to Ask Your Local Collision Repair Shop
Auto collisions are no fun, whether you experience a minor fender bender or a major crash. Even worse is knowing you’ll have to go through the hassle of comparison shopping to find a suitable repair shop to get your car back on the road. Luckily, you can find the best option by asking a few simple questions.
What Types of Repairs Do You Offer?
Although your first thought is likely expense, the services offered are more important if you want to get your car back on the road quickly. Some repair shops offer body work, but no on-site paint. Others specialize in engine work or brakes. Ideally, you’ll want to find a repair shop that will handle everything for you in one place, or at least contract out for additional needs for your convenience.
What is Your Hourly Rate for Labor?
No matter where you go, chances are parts will cost about the same, although it’s always wise to ask whether the shop uses new, refurbished, or aftermarket parts. If you’re not particular, you could save here, but new parts are typically the best option (and may be required to maintain your vehicle warranty).
Where pricing could differ significantly is when it comes to the cost of labor. You need to understand that labor costs can vary by location, but also that more skilled and certified technicians charge more for their time. If you come across a deal that seems too good to be true, you should probably ask if the mechanics are certified (if they’re not, it’s worth paying more to go elsewhere).
What Insurance Do You Accept?
If you’re with a major insurance provider like State Farm, Farmers, or AAA, there’s a good chance it’s accepted just about everywhere. What if an accident wasn’t your fault and the other party is responsible for footing the bill for your repairs? In this case, you’ll want to make sure to find a shop that accepts the insurance of the at-fault party. On the subject of insurance, it’s not a bad idea to make sure the shop you choose is insured, as well, against hazards like theft or fire.
Do You Offer a Written Warranty?
Reputable shops nearly always offer a warranty on their work, although it will vary from on shop to the next. Typically, you can expect anywhere from about 1-3 years for services like body work or paint. If the shop is offering a lifetime warranty, make sure to read the fine print – the restrictions for such offers are generally almost impossible to meet, making the warranty virtually useless. Always ask to see a warranty in writing and get a copy for your records.
Do You Offer Any Additional Services?
Many repair shops offer a variety of ancillary services such as towing to get a defunct car to their shop, shuttle services when you drop off and pick up your vehicle, and even loaner cars (which your insurance may cover). These shouldn’t make or break your choice of shop, but they certainly can sweeten the deal.