How To Choose The Right Auto Service Facility

If you've been burned by fly-by-night auto service shops before, then going to another auto maintenance shop can be a nerve-wracking experience. Many of us may have heard stories of car owners who've been duped into paying an extra thousand dollars or more for suspicious repairs, and of car dealers who never comply with standard auto insurance warranties, as well as cut corners to save on expenses. Before you put your full trust on an independent auto service shop, here are a few important things you need to know first.

Fast Facts Behind Cosmetic Repairs

If you feel any rattling, clanging or vibrating sound underneath the car, or see some chipped-off paint on the fender or bumper, your car may only require what's termed as a “cosmetic repair”.  A cosmetic repair usually covers superficial vehicle damage. This may include small bumper dents, paint scrapes, scratches and other minor body imperfections. Cosmetic auto repairs are generally inexpensive; however if the scrape or dent is located close to another separate body panel, it may require repainting of the whole area, plus the surrounding panels.  Cosmetic repairs also average between $400 to $500; however owners of pricey European or US cars may need to pay an extra for the use of original manufacturer equipment. To ensure that you're not paying more for the repairs, always get a written estimate from not just one, but two or three auto repair shops, so that you'll have a good idea of how much it would really cost.

How Collision Repairs Are Mended

Collision repair often involves heavy vehicle body or frame damage, broken or missing parts, severely damaged fenders, bumpers and other components.  Most collision repair damage requires, on average, a two or three-day workup at the service facility.  Sometimes, collision repair will also require the replacement of whole body panels, engine overhaul, oil  tank cleaning and complete wheel alignment.   

Check The Car Insurance Policy  Before Getting It Fixed

The problem with insurance coverage, especially with car insurance policies, is that some insurance providers try to cut costs, by directing clients to an “in-service” or “in-network” provider.  These  in-service providers generally have arrangements with their partner insurance firms, so that once they agree to charge customers lower prices, they get other related benefits in return.  An in-service auto repair provider can also make a killing by cutting corners, through the use of  salvaged materials or generic parts, instead of using original equipment manufacturer components. 

The good news is that most auto insurance providers in the US, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia today follow regulations which do not require their customers to have the vehicles served by “in-house” or “in-network” repair facilities. The vehicle owner can now choose his or her auto shop of choice.  The customer will also have the power to determine whether  auto repair service uses original manufacturer equipment, or if its technicians are certified to work on the model or make of the car.