Uh oh! You’ve just been in an accident. You’re OK, but your car is seriously damaged. Naturally, you want it to be fixed as soon as possible and without any hassles.
Be careful – even though you’re in a hurry to get your car fixed, don’t cut corners when looking for a collision repair shop. You might end up with a botched job that’s a waste of your money and your time.
The key is to do a bit of basic research when shopping around for collision repair estimates.
So how do you choose a collision repair shop in Ottawa that will give you the results you want? Here are 6 tips to help you in your search.
1. Find Out Your Insurance Company’s Preferred Collision Repair Shops
There’s nothing wrong with using one of the repair shops your insurance company wants you to use. Just be aware that some shops — but not all of them — may be inclined to cut corners on your repairs to keep the costs down and the insurer happy.
Some collision centres, on the other hand, are approved by insurance companies simply because they do outstanding work. This means a little research on the auto body shop you want to use will come in handy. Find out how good a job the collision repair shop does on its finished vehicles and if there were any problems afterwards.
For example, at Bemac we’re approved by all Canadian insurance companies. This means that we are able to streamline the paperwork for dealing with claims. This will help you get your car back in a repaired state much faster, without affecting the quality of the repair job.
2. Find Out What Have Other People Said About the Shop
Make sure you do your homework before you commit to a repair.
You can find auto body shop reviews in places such as Angieslist.com, Yelp.com and Google. You might also find collision repair discussion groups online that are specific to your car’s make and model, and forum members may have recommendations for you about shops in your area. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau.
Be sure not to take these reviews at face value, however. The well-written, thoughtful reviews are the ones you’re looking for — not one-line rants against the shop. Remember that everyone, even the best shops, will get a bad review from time to time.
Of course, also pay attention to positive word-of-mouth from family or friends.
3. Go to the Shop In Person
You’re looking for an auto body shop that’s clean and well laid out, with up-to-date equipment and a professional staff with experience.
When you come to Bemac, you’re dealing with a world-class repair shop. We do it by having large, state of the art facilities and the very best equipment, and we also attract and retain top talent, some of whom have more than 25 years of experience repairing car bodies. We’re happy to answer any of your questions about the work we do and our shop.
Be sure to ask a lot of questions. Determine the paint and parts the shop uses, and how many coats of paint and clear coating the shop wants to use. Find out if the the collision centre carries fire and theft insurance in the event that your car is ruined by a shop fire, or is stolen or broken into.
Ask how long they’ve been in business. Ask, too, about their certifications. Make sure the shop uses certified technicians from the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence. These mechanics have gone through rigorous training on the latest repair techniques, which means you can be sure they will do the best possible work on your car with up-to-date repair methods.
4. Check Out Their Workmanship
While you’re at the shop, ask is to see other vehicles that have already been worked on. If you’ve picked a good auto body shop, it should be impossible to tell a repaired part with the rest of the car.
If you don’t know what to look for, pick up a reference book such as Auto Repair for Dummies. It’ll tell you to spot things like ripples or bumps on the finish, and freckles of new paint on unpainted parts — such as trim, chrome, door handles and locks — should be removed before painting.
An in-person visit will also help to alleviate your gut feelings. If the shop, for instance, doesn’t appear to be too busy, that might mean that customers are staying away in droves. If the shop is dirty, consider what they might do to your car. If the owner or manager is in a foul mood, you may be happier going somewhere else that offers better customer service.
5. Get Estimates in Writing
If an auto body shop makes all sort of promises to you verbally, don’t just take their word for it. Get it in writing. After all, you don’t want to go through the process of having to lodge a complaint against a manager for work not done or done improperly.
Get at least three written estimates from different collision repair shops. Make your decision based on how your money is being spent. Don’t just go with the lowest quote: ensure that you’re getting the job you want done at the quality you’re comfortable with.
Bemac can help with the process of making an estimate easier. How? We offer online estimates for collision repair. All you have to do is simply send us photos of your damaged car, and we’ll give you a rough estimate of what your car repair bill will be — though be aware that new problems might be found when the car actually starts undergoing repairs.
We hope that in being able to submit photos, you’ll save time and make as an informed decision as possible before setting foot in the door.
6. Make Sure You’re Covered By a Warranty
A collision repair shop should offer you a warranty for its work. Even though parts have manufacturer’s warranties on them, they will be void if the parts are improperly installed. Make sure, that the auto body shop repair estimate includes a warranty for any work done by the shop’s technicians.
If it’s a good shop, the warranty will be a lifetime one. Bemac offers a lifetime warranty, but there are some conditions simply due to the nature of where we all live. For instance, because Ottawa roads are heavily salted for a good portion of the year, it’s nearly impossible to offer a long-term warranty against rust for that reason.
In getting a warranty from the auto body shop, ask if any repair work done will void or change any existing warranties you have on your car. Make sure any repairs are manufacturer-approved and that aftermarket or used parts aren’t being used on your car — which would void your car’s warranty.
If your insurance company demands that you use aftermarket or used parts that will nullify your factory warranty, ask the insurer to give you a written warranty that’s exactly the same as your factory warranty.
7. Ensure They Go the Extra Mile
You can tell if a collision repair shop in Ottawa is willing to attract your business by the extra services it offers. Does it offer you reasonably priced towing to the shop? Will they give you a free loaner car while yours is being fixed? These services can be to your advantage, particularly if your insurance doesn’t cover these things.
Bemac offers lots of extra services to make life easier for you. For instance, we offer convenient drop-off locations around the city to save you driving time to the shop. We also have our own towing service, which means your car won’t be stored somewhere before it’s delivered to us (translation: you’ll essentially pay twice for the same service). You car will directly go to Bemac, and that will help you save money.
Ask for Your Free Collision Repair Estimate
Convinced that we’re a great auto body repair shop in Ottawa for your needs? Then request a free quote for an estimate of how much it will take to bring your car back to its former glory. We happy to talk to you about the auto body repairs your car requires, so contact us today.