For the majority of drivers, going to an auto body shop in Summit is a mysterious experience, a scary encounter with the unknown.
Once you hand over your key, you instantly feel uneasy; will your car be returned as good as new, or will the repair specialists do a shoddy job?
How will you know? How will you be able to figure out if you hard-earned money is just being tossed down the drain?
The best way to know if you are receiving excellent service and professional care is to find a reputable Summit Auto Body shop and then build a relationship with that shop.
However, most people who take their vehicles in to the Auto Body Shop are doing so for the first time. So, how do you know whether or not you can trust an auto body shop?
First of all, it is important to know that most auto body shops are reputable businesses. The majority of Summit Auto Body owners are just struggling to make a living like most small business owners – they want to do a great job on your car so you will return or refer others to their shop.
However, there are a few bad apples that spoil the whole bunch, and you need to be diligent when selecting a shop.
The first thing to do is get a referral or locate a shop online using reviews and testimonials.
Today's vehicles are made with many different types of fuel-saving materials like lightweight alloys and plastics. It is important for an auto body shop to be aware of the different materials and techniques used for repairing them.
Auto body shops and collision repair services refer to manuals for instructions repairing bumpers. The different material types require various finish materials, removal and installation procedures.
When a plastic bumper is cracked or has a small hole it can be repaired to look as good as new. Replacing the bumper is wasteful and it creates unnecessary debris for our landfills. A good, eco-friendly auto body shop will only recommend replacing the bumper if the damage is severe enough that repair time would be considered unreasonable and quality of results would be unsatisfactory.
The cost of repairing small abrasions, cracks and holes in plastic bumpers is often much cheaper than replacing the part. Of course, many collision repair technicians would rather replace the part and charge a fee for their labor plus mark-up on the price of the part because they lack in cosmetic repair skills and it is easier to warranty the work.
Working with Plastics
The first step to repairing plastic bumpers is to identify the material in order to choose the method of repair. Auto body shops use ISO codes on the parts to identify the various families of plastics. They cross-reference the codes with charts from the suppliers or by accessing reference materials on the internet.
It is important that the collision repair technician determine the type of plastic they are working with so they know the proper welding procedure to use to avoid damage to the part.
Some plastics can be welded with an airless welder or hot-air welder; others require a hot glue type of procedure. Tests must be performed and welding procedures have to be done correctly to avoid adhesion failure. Some bumpers will melt with a slight color change and they will remain tacky in the area where they have melted.
The bumper repair technician must identify the type of plastic they are working with in order to be successful with adhesive repairs. Failure to properly identify the plastic results in adhesion-related problems.
Some repair materials are based on flexible and rigid plastics. Using the wrong material can cause cracking when the part is flexed or it may not provide the correct strength for the repair area.
Cleaning and Prep
Proper cleaning and prep is critical for proper adhesion and finish. Whether the technician is repairing or replacing the bumper, the part will need to be cleaned. The bumper being repaired is likely to be dirty from the road; the new replacement part can have contamination on it from the manufacturing process.
Auto body repair professionals should use a low-VOC surface cleaner or a special plastics parts cleaner to help prevent solvents from going too deep into the plastic. If solvents are too harsh, they go deep into the plastic and cause adhesion problems after repairs are done.
This is an overview of the process of working with plastics. Time is money in the auto body industry; therefore, many collision repair technicians choose to replace rather than repair plastic bumpers and other parts.
Technology allows us to repair many items that are often replaced. As resources become scarce and landfills become over-full, we really should consider repairing rather than replacing when possible.
Create a list and call each shop to see how well you are treated on the phone.
Select three or four shops that sound good and are in close proximity to your location, and you are ready to take your vehicle in for an estimate.
You should get at least three estimates from three different shops.
The estimate may vary because Auto Body Shops may use different estimating software, but they should all be in the same ballpark. If an estimate differs by a great deal, you should ask why.
The body shop expert should be able to explain all prices on the estimate, including all price quotes and labor charges.
When you get the estimate, you should also be evaluating the Auto Body customer service:
How quickly were you acknowledged?
How efficiently were you helped?
Were all members of the staff polite and friendly?
Did the staff seem knowledgeable?
Be observant during the estimate and you will have a good idea of how you will be treated during the entire repair process.
If the customer service seems lacking, move on to the next place even if the estimate seems reasonable.
If you decide to leave your car, and the shop contacts you later to tell you about additional charges, this may be a sign that it is not a reputable and honest repair facility.
Though additional charges can happen occasionally, it is not a common practice for a reputable shop.
If you do your homework, have some patience, and get a few estimate, the odds are good that you will find a reputable auto body shop.
Once you have found one, it helps to direct all your business to them, and refer them to others.
If you do this, you will have established a good relationship, and you will no longer need to worry about finding an honest auto body shop.
The Results Are In – Who Do You Think is the Best Summit Auto Body in the Area?
A car is a very complex piece of machinery. Each individual part is vigorously tested before it ever goes into production models and, like a chain, relies upon every other part in order for the vehicle to function. One poorly built aspect can cause serious malfunctions leading to costly repairs, or worse, an accident.
Even something as simple as the glues used to hold a tire tread to the rest of the tire is an integral part of a car or truck. Just ask Firestone. That exact issue resulted in a costly recall of thousands of tires, legal recourse, as well as over 500 injuries and 148 deaths. All of which could have been prevented with only a little bit of testing. Be wary of new designs rushed into mass production.
Often a seemingly superficial part to a vehicle actually provides a significant amount of safety. Everyone knows a windshield protects the driver and passenger from wind and debris. Most also know that they are also designed with a thin film that prevents them shattering upon impact. What most people don't know is that the windshield provides over half of the structural support for the car during an impact. The windshield combined with the frame of the car makes it structurally safer than a car without one. Cracks in a windshield can greatly reduce their protective power, as well as obstruct the driver's view which is even more dangerous.
Replacing or repairing cracks and chips in a windshield should be done by trained professional at a certified and insured auto glass or body shop. Avoid independent installers and people who operate only out of their truck. The adhesive used dries in about an hour, so if any body shops quote you a turn around time less than that, they are either lying or don't know what they are doing.
Also, it is a good idea to know a little bit about the glass windshields they will be installing. There are three aftermarket windshields that exceed OEM and DOT specs, they are P.P.G., L.O.F. and Plinkington.
Other suitable windshields are made by the car factory. Ford's factory glass is called Carlite, and Chrysler's is Safeguard. Expect to pay more money for factory glass. A good auto glass installer will sand all the rust around the windshield after it is removed, and then prime and paint it before installing the new windshield. It is best to go with body shops that have been around for at least five years as they are more likely to be around to guarantee warranties and make repairs in the future. Many shops will also work with your insurance carrier to get you the best price on a windshield, sometimes completely paid for by the insurance company.
Body repair is another story and can become very expensive. Newer cars with plastic and fiberglass bodies are almost impossible to repair, the body panels are often much easier to just replace, and that can be accomplished by almost anyone with a wrench and screw driver. Repairing dents and rust on metal bodies can be time consuming as well as expensive. It also requires a matching paint job which is similarly expensive. If the dented or rusted panels can be removed it makes it much easier. Dents can be pounded back into shape. In addition to this, it is often just easier to work on and paint a detached piece. Some work can be done by the average Joe, but extensive body work should be done at an established body shop.
What to Look for in an Auto Body Shop
One of the most puzzling things about shopping for relatively expensive services (more than $500) like home remodeling, cosmetic surgery, and auto body repair is the wide range of price quotes you receive for essentially the same service. When I ran an auto body shop, we would see quotes from big name shops of $2000 for a front bumper and grille replacement. Sometimes, we could do the job for $1000 and still make a fair profit.
So, was the big name shop's work better? Frankly, yes. Their painter could get a closer color match. Their body man could line up the bumper absolutely perfect...to within a millimeter of factory spec. But...was their work twice as good? Only a body man or painter could spot the difference. From a certain angle, in a certain light, he could see the slightest mismatch in paint color. And with a fine-grade ruler. He could check the gap between bumper and fender and find the slightest differences.
But could a customer perceive the difference between a $2000 and $1000 bumper job? No chance. If I could quantify the difference, it might be (an undetectable) 5%.
I'm not advocating that you choose the lowest bid every time (there are some bad shops out there), but as a former shop owner, I can tell you with confidence that it's seldom worthwhile to choose the highest bid.
You're going to want to choose the most affordable bid from a shop with a good reputation.
Here's how to find that "just right" shop:
1. Get at least 4 bids.
2. Toss the high bid.
3. Do some research on the remaining 3 bids.
4. Check online reviews: Google, Yahoo, Yelp, etc.
5. Check with the Better Business Bureau.
6. Inspect the shop...is it clean and orderly?
7. What about the customer service? Do they answer the phone? Are they polite? Do they answer your questions? Does the manager/estimator create a good, knowledgeable impression?
8. Do they guarantee their work? You will want at least a 3 year guarantee from defects like peeling and discoloration.
9. Usually, the shop will have completed cars waiting for pick up. Inspect the work. Would you pay for that work?
After you've done your investigating, circle the shops you felt comfortable with trusting your car. Trust your gut instinct! Then choose the one with the lowest bid. You'll get a repair that you will be very happy with yet spend hundreds if not thousands less.