It’s not uncommon for estimates from different body shops to vary wildly. One shop might give you an estimate for $500 while another wants $2,000 for the work. What’s the difference? And when is it OK to choose the cheaper shop?
Follow these tips for how to pick the right body shop for you and your car – something that is especially important when you have to pay instead of insurance.
1. Pay Attention to Word-of-Mouth
Any business can advertise, but you’ll do better with a shop that friends, family or acquaintances recommend. It’s a business that has proven it can satisfy customers. And it might not be the biggest or best-known shop in your area.
It’s not always best to assume that just because a body shop is big or a national chain that it will be the best fit for you and your needs. Often times in your research you will find that the highest recommended body shops are smaller, locally owned or family owned shops where the owners are also invested in the work being done.
2. Consider the Shop’s Expenses
Having body work done on your car can get extra expensive when you consider the labor hours being charged in addition to the cost of the replacement parts. Labor costs can vary from $30-$90 per hour, so it is important to find out what body shops will charge.
A large body shop with lots of extra workers will probably charge higher labor rates because they have more people to pay. Employees working in a front office or as managers or foreman aren’t immediately doing the labor on your car, but they still benefit financially from your business. Don’t be fooled by big businesses into thinking they are more reputable, the higher the labor charge, the higher your bill may be.
Body shops and garages use reference guides that estimate the number of hours required to perform common repairs.
3. Get Several Estimates
It’s always a good idea to take your car to many different body shops and get a variety of different estimates. Not only will labor charges vary, but the price of parts may vary as well. By getting multiple estimates you can avoid overcharges or overzealous salespeople who may be trying to take advantage of you. Different estimates will also give you a reasonable range for the price of your repairs – if one is way more expensive or if one is unreasonably cheap, it’s probably a good indication that it is a bad estimate.
Keep it mind that it is important to protect yourself against being overcharged, but it is also important not to be undercharged or to have work done for too cheap. The old moniker that you get what you pay for is true when it comes to body work – don’t just go for the cheapest option, be sure you’re getting the most quality work.
4. Have a List of Questions Ready
When you know you need to visit a body shop start by doing research on what you will need and how much it will cost. This way, when you arrive at the body shop you can be ready to have an intelligent conversation with the workers about what you need. This will help save you time and money. Besides specific questions about the damage repair and labor, ask about warranty’s on the parts being replaced and how long those warranties last. It is standard for parts warranties to last one year.
Another key question is whether the shop carries fire and theft insurance. You want to be sure you’re covered if your car is destroyed, stolen or burglarized. Don’t forget to ask how long the shop has been in business. Make sure it has a business license.
Finally, ask the body shop workers about the materials they will be using to do the repairs on your car. Are they brand new? Are they after market? Where do they come from and why do they choose those specific parts? The more you know about the parts you are getting the better so that you can understand their proper value and so that you don’t get tricked into paying more than you need to. Don’t forget to ask about paintwork too. If you are having anything repainted ask how many coats of paint and if they are going to apply a topcoat.
5. Consider your gut feelings
Lastly, listen to your gut when it comes to choosing the right shop. Look at things like how busy the shop is, how clean it is and how friendly the shop workers are. These are good indications of customer service and the work that will be done on your car. You’ll be happiest with work that is done when you are most comfortable.
Finding the right body shop can have an impact on your Texas auto insurance rate as well. The lower your claim, the less likely it is that your Texas car insurance rate will increase and you will have to pay more. Although shopping around can be a pain it can be well worth the savings in the end.