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Top Questions to Ask Your Auto Body Repair Shop

Key Collision Centers
A Key Collision employee working on a truck hydraulically lifted

When your vehicle has been involved in a collision, finding a high-quality repair shop is likely a top priority. But there’s a lot to consider and the process of finding a reputable shop can seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start. To make it easier, we’ve compiled a list of the top questions you should be asking when shopping around for the right repair partner.

13 Questions to Ask Your Auto Body Repair Shop

13 Questions to Ask Your Auto Body Repair Shop

1. Will I receive a written estimate?
A written estimate, also known as a repair plan, is an important document that you can compare to your itemized bill at the end of the process. If there are any changes during repairs, these should be made in writing so you can have proper documentation.

2. What is your warranty policy on repair work?
What does the warranty cover? How long are the repairs guaranteed? Is the warranty included, or is there some kind of optional coverage? Before agreeing to any repairs, clarify the warranty period and its specific terms — and again, obtain this information in writing.

3. What are your certifications?
It’s safe to say you want someone working on your car who is trained and experienced. Trusted, reputable body shops will put in the time and effort to maintain the highest certifications possible. Looking for shops that have the following:

  • I-CAR Gold Class — This is the highest designation for collision repair services. Maintaining this certification requires annual training and testing to ensure that technicians are up to date with the newest vehicle makes, models and technologies. Ongoing training covers the latest repair processes and technologies and how to make the safest repair decisions.
  • S/P2 — The Safety and Pollution Prevention certification is designed to keep auto body repair technicians and staff compliant with EPA and OSHA training guidelines. The training teaches professionals how to recognize hazards in the workplace so that they can maintain a safe and environmentally-compliant shop.
  • AAA-approved — Auto body repair shops that are approved by AAA are thoroughly vetted to ensure that they are clean, comfortable and equipped with the proper tools and technologies. AAA also verifies that approved facilities continuously meet member service satisfaction standards, and that technicians maintain the proper proof of training and certifications.
  • ASE — Automotive Service Excellence certifications are awarded to technicians who complete at least two years of relevant work experience and pass a rigorous exam. Technicians are required to retest every five years to keep their certifications up to date, and to ensure that they apply the most current knowledge to repair processes.
  • BASF — BASF is the world’s leading chemical company and an expert in vehicle paint colors and coatings. If the repair shop is using BASF, employees should have the proper technical training.

Some repair shops may also have manufacturer certifications. This means the manufacturer will thoroughly evaluate the team, facility, equipment and processes. This also includes routinely inspecting facilities and rigorously training technicians.

4. Do you offer rental cars or loaner vehicles?
Some repair shops may offer you a loaner vehicle under certain circumstances. Many also work with nearby rental agencies. If you need a rental or a loaner, make sure you clarify the logistics and terms with the shop before agreeing to any repairs. It’s also important to check the rental terms of your car insurance ahead of time. Will your insurance pay 100% for a vehicle or will you foot the bill?

5. How will you work with my insurance?
Will the repair shop handle all of the communication with your insurance company? Ideally you’re looking for a place that initiates and facilitates all the work and communication so that the repair and claims process can go as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

6. How long will the repairs take?
We all want repairs done as soon as possible, but there’s a lot that goes into the process. The timeline may change, but a repair shop should be able to provide you with an estimate while explaining how they will communicate any changes in the timeline if they arise.

7. How will you communicate any updates?
Communication is a major factor when it comes to the repair process. How will you receive updates and information? Will the shop communicate via phone call, text message or email? How often should you expect to receive updates? It’s important to establish the answers to these questions early in the process — ideally when you first contact the shop or drop your vehicle off for repairs.

8. Do you have experience with my make and model?
It’s important to make sure the repair shop won’t have any problems ordering parts for your vehicle, if needed, which is sometimes an issue with imported or classic vehicles.

9. Will you be able to match the paint color with the rest of my vehicle?
In most cases, the paint code for your vehicle is located under the hood, in the door jamb, or in the trunk or glove compartment. It should also be listed in your owner’s manual. Ask the repair shop about their paint color process. What kinds of tools do they use to ensure a perfect match?

10. How does your shop stay ahead of the newest technology?
A good repair shop understands that vehicle repair technology and equipment are continually evolving. This means they should be updating equipment and software as needed and keeping up with the latest automotive news and trends. Relevant certifications also include the latest technology and equipment training.

11. What is your payment policy?
Most shops have some sort of payment policy, which should be a discussion point during your initial appointment. It’s also important to confirm that the shop will work directly with your insurance company.

12. Is my car covered during repairs?
What happens if your vehicle is stolen or damaged while being repaired? Will the shop take responsibility? Here’s a helpful tip: A good repair shop will tell you to remove everything out of your vehicle when you drop it off to lessen the chance of theft or vandalism.

13. What does the post-repair process look like?
After repairs, your shop should take that extra step to return your vehicle as good as new. This should include a wash and a vacuum, but don’t be afraid to ask for the details of their quality control process.

If you’re searching for a shop that provides high-quality repairs and customer service, consider Key Collision Centers. Request an appointment today or contact us with any questions.

Our expert staff at our 11 convenient Key Collision Centers will bring your car back to it's original pre-crash glory.