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Body Shops

Selecting an auto body shop can be a difficult proposition; here are some tips on what to look for.

Most body shops offer full collision and paint repair services. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Most body shops offer full collision and paint repair services.

Body Shops

Being able to tell good auto body shops from bad ones is an important skill for all car owners to have. Taking a vehicle to a good body shop not only ensures that the repairs are done right and on time, but it also gives the owner of the car the best customer experience possible. A body shop should have mechanics that are friendly, professional and that can establish a good rapport with their customers. Of course, the technical expertise of a shop's mechanics is also important, but there are a few easy ways for customers to find this out on their own before deciding where to take their cars.

What Services Body Shops Offer

Body shops generally provide two main services: painting and collision repair. Customers often take their cars to body shops for spot painting, which covers up small scratches and dents in the bodywork. However, body shops also perform full paint jobs, where the entire car is covered with a fresh coat of paint. These can be expensive, but they are one of the best ways to refurbish an old or vintage cars faded color. A complete paint job can also increase the selling price of a car, so it is a good investment for owners who plan on selling or trading in their cars.

On top of painting, body shops also specialize in collision repair. Mechanics who focus on collision repair can fix most car problems caused by accidents, including:

  • Damage to the body work (e.g., dents, crumpled doors and scuffed paint)
  • Damage to the frame or structure
  • Wheels and suspension that are out of alignment
  • Broken headlamps, taillights and turn signals
  • Shattered or cracked windshields and windows (often requires a specialist in automotive glass)

To keep customers safe on the road, body shop mechanics should be able to perform each of these repairs to meet the standards of each cars manufacturer. This means that unless the customer requests otherwise, the mechanics will replace each of the cars broken parts with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.

Choosing Body Shops

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) recommends that car owners start looking for a body shop before they actually need one, so they can take their time in getting to know the shop owners and mechanics. Asking friends and family for recommendations is an easy way to find a shop, but there are other approaches that may be more fruitful. First, consumers can ask their auto insurance companies for a list of approved body shops that other customers have used in the past for repairs. Second, they can contact their local Better Business Bureau for information on specific shops and how the shops resolved any previous customer complaints. Third, they can simply visit shops in their area and get a feel for the shop's level of customer service, expertise and experience.

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