Here’s something you don’t hear very often: “I had a accident with my car but it was cheap to fix.” No matter how minor any accident is, it always seems to be expensive to repair. Sometimes very expensive. We asked Ada Dodge of Ada, a local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer in Ada, OK, why this is and got two answers. First, autobody work is very labor intensive and sometimes quite a bit of skill is required (especially for the guys that spray paint.) Second, automotive parts and paint are crazy expensive. (A single gallon of automotive paint is almost $500 today.) But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get what you pay for. Here are few tips to keep in mind the next time you need to get some autobody work done.
1. Understand the system. Your insurer may direct you to its list of approved repair shops. This may be just fine – but be aware that sometimes these “recommended” shops receive pre-negotiated rates from the insurance company, and those rates might be a bit stingy. The result could be that your repair is a bit stingy too. Do you have a local brand dealership nearby? If so, check with them before you commit to any autobody shop.
2. Get more than one estimate. Find out exactly what the autobody shop is going to do to your car and get three or four other quotes. Try a variety of shops, including independent shops, chain outlets and, of course, your local dealership.
3. Know what to expect when it comes to replacement parts. Many insurance companies want repair shops to use salvage or generic replacement parts, as opposed to original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. If possible, instruct the shop to use OEM parts. They are generally made of better materials and they fit better.
4. Check the shop’s reputation and complaint history. As you zero in on a shop, check Google+, Yelp, Edmunds and other on-line automotive sites to see what their reviews look like. You also can check with your state’s attorney general’s office or consumer affairs department too.
5. Is a rental car included? Auto-body repairs often take longer than expected. Definitely check to see if your insurance covers a rental car and check the terms, in addition.
6. Check your insurer’s warranty. As a way of encouraging you to use a shop in its network, your insurance company may offer a warranty on replacement parts. Don’t be swayed by this. This warranty often isn’t necessary because most shops not only guarantee their work, the parts manufacturers guarantee their parts too.
7. Check and double check what you agree to. Politely clarify with the shop that no work should happen until you’ve authorized it first. When the time comes to pick up your car, look the bill over carefully and make sure everything matches up with the estimate you had been given. If you spot anything you didn’t authorize, speak up about it at that time, not later.