There’s a lot of trust that goes into the maintenance and repairs of a person’s car.
After a few years, most car owners will have their preferred mechanics and workshops to go to whenever they need auto repairs. That kind of trust can only be built over time and after several services. Alternatively, some drivers might prefer the manufacturer’s service centres because they trust the quality of work that goes with the brand.
However, it’s challenging to establish the same kind of relationship and trust with an auto body shop. Why? Because people don’t use an auto body shop’s services very often.
Typically, most people only ever visit an auto body shop if they have suffered collision damage and require crash parts and car body repair.
So, if the day ever comes when you need to get some auto body repair completed, how can you compensate for the lack of trust? The best thing you can do to reduce uncertainty and the risk of facing issues is to ask them the correct questions.
To help you with that, we’re going to look at the top ten questions to ask an auto body shop before bringing in your car for repair. By using these questions, you’ll get a much better sense of whether or not you’re choosing the best auto body shop for your car.
What Should I Ask an Auto Body Shop?
It’s always best to ask the questions in your own words and communication style when you use them in real life. So rather than give you the exact questions to ask word-for-word, here are the kinds of questions that you can ask an auto body shop before you use their services.
1. Get to Know the Shop
The first type of question that you’ll want to ask before requesting any auto body repair is those that help you get to know the shop and the people running it. The purpose here is to get a sense of who they are and how credible they are.
So, for example, you can ask them how long they’ve been in the business. That’s a typical opening question that’s useful no matter what kind of company you’re talking to.
You can also ask them what types of car makes and models they usually work on. It’s usually a good sign if they’ve worked on models similar to yours, as it hints that they’ll have much more knowledge and experience that’ll be useful in fixing your car.
2. Questions about Credentials
Next, you’ll want to ask about the shop’s credentials. That includes asking about any necessary licenses or permits that they may have.
Another important credential to ask about is whether or not they're a shop that your insurance company recognises.
Let’s say your car suffered collision damage, and your insurance company was going to cover the cost of the repairs. Typically, they’ll expect you to take your vehicle to an auto body shop that’s on their panel, which means that they recognise and approve of that workshop.
So, it might be best to make sure that they are before you send your car to them.
3. Questions about Documentation
Next, you must ask about the kind of information that you can get in writing. For example, will they inspect your car and give you a report before they start any work on your vehicle? Will they perform an inspection after the repairs are done and provide you with a report on that?
4. The Shop’s Payment Policies
Does the auto body shop accept your preferred payment method? Whether it’s cash, cheque, or credit card, you must always clarify this ahead of time to avoid payment problems later on.
If you’re there on the insurance company’s dime, ask the shop about that. Will you have to pay first and claim from the insurance company, or will the shop settle everything directly with the insurer?
5. What Warranty Coverage the Shop Provides
Typically, auto body repairs come with some warranty coverage, even if only for the short term. That warranty may or may not be the same as the coverage on the crash parts that are installed onto your vehicle.
So, be sure to clarify that before you let them start any work.
6. Does the Shop Have Loan or Rental Vehicles
Auto body repair will take time. That could be overnight, a few days, or even a couple of weeks, depending on how severe the collision damage is on your car. In the meantime, you might want to ask the shop if they provide loaner vehicles or if they can help you find rental cars instead.
Who knows? Some auto body shops might have a partnership with a rental vehicle company that can offer you a great deal!
7. The Approximate Timeframe for Your Repair
Auto body repair shops probably can’t give you an exact date when your car will be ready. Still, all of them can at least give you an estimate of when it’ll be done. It’s good to ask about this ahead of time and establish a date when you’ll check on your vehicle’s progress.
Bonus tip: Always follow up after a reasonable amount of time. This isn’t to put pressure on the shop or micro-manage them in any way; after all, you don’t want them to rush and make mistakes.
However, it might be useful to give them a friendly, no-pressure reminder that you’re keeping an eye on your car’s progress. The best way to do that? Just tell them that you’ll call them in a few days to ask how things are going.
8. Insurance Coverage While the Car Is in the Shop
Your auto insurance policy is based on the assumption that the car is with you at all times. However, suppose your vehicle is spending time away from you (i.e. parked in an auto body shop for days or weeks). In that case, you must find out what sort of insurance coverage the shop has.
Does the place have a fire or theft insurance for the vehicles parked on its premises?
9. Will the Shop Match the Paint Job on Your Car
Some kinds of auto body repair require painting parts of your car that suffered collision damage. For these repair tasks, it’s best to clarify with the auto body shop whether or not they’ll paint it to match the rest of your car’s colours.
This question becomes especially important to ask if your car has a custom colour on it. You’ll need to liaise with the shop to ensure that they can match that colour.
10. Specific Instructions on Aftercare
Finally, ask the shop if there are any special instructions for after-repair care of your vehicle.
For example, is it safe to wash your car after the repair? Or, is it safe to roll down the windows immediately after?
Some repairs might take a day or two to sort of ‘settle in’ first. So, clarify that with the auto repair shop.
By asking these questions, you don’t only get the answers per se, you also get to know the repairers more. If they take lengths to explain and reassure you, that’s a good sign. If they sound dismissive and wave your questions as unimportant, then don’t waste any of your time with them. Search for other auto body repairers.
Connect to Reputable Auto Repairers & Car Part Sellers in Australia!
Looking for a reliable auto body repair shop in your area? Check out the Directory over at Carpart.com.au. There, you’ll be able to find the addresses and contact details for many reputable auto body repair shops from all over Australia!
If you need parts to replace damaged car body parts, there’s no better place to go than CarpartAU’s Part Finder! Just fill out this form and get your search kicking!
By Ray Hasbollah