Choosing The Right Body Shop
All body shops are not the same. That’s why choosing the right body shop is important. A reputable body shop employing trained, competent technicians, following recommended repair procedures, using the proper tools and equipment, and operating in an ethical manner can make a big difference not only in how your car is repaired, but equally important, how you’ll feel about driving your car afterwards.
The average person can’t tell if a shop has the proper tools and equipment or not. But there are a few things you should look for, and questions you can ask.
First, look at the shop’s work area. A relatively clean, organized shop is a sign of professionalism. Just because body work can sometimes be messy and dirty, doesn’t mean that the shop should look that way.
Next, look for plaques or certificates stating the shop is a current member of the local Better Business Bureau or are members of local, regional, or national trade organizations such as a state auto body association.
Ask what kind of training the shop technicians have had, or if they are certified or recognized by some entity. Some examples are listed below. You may also want to ask about the criteria for certification or what the training includes.
Factory Training: Some car manufacturers provide their own collision repair training.
I-CAR Training: The Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, more commonly known as I-CAR, is a not-for-profit international training organization dedicated to improving collision repair. The I-CAR vision is that every person in the collision industry, present and future, has the necessary knowledge and skills relevant to their position, to achieve a complete repair. Those shops achieving I-CAR’s highest level of training are designated as Gold Class.
ASE Certified: The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, more commonly known as ASE, works to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive repair professionals. Look for the blue and white ASE insignia certified technicians proudly wear on their uniforms. Those shops achieving ASE’s highest level of certification are designated as ASE Blue Seal.
OE Certification / Recognition Program: Some vehicle manufacturers have shop certification or recognition programs. Each has their own criteria. Be sure to ask the shop if it participates in a certification or recognition program for your brand of vehicle.
Third-Party Certifications: There are some third-party organizations within the industry that have their own certification programs. Be sure to ask your shop about third-party programs and the program’s criteria.
You may also want to look for certificates of completed training from paint companies, refinish products suppliers or industry training centers; and check with family or friends who have recently been through the collision repair process.
Be sure you are comfortable with the body shop and are reasonably sure that it will provide a safe and proper repair for your vehicle. You will have to live with the results of its work for a long time.