[200q20v] Selecting a Body Shop (was: Beware of Dealers)

steve_scalmanini at agilent.com steve_scalmanini at agilent.com
Tue Sep 26 20:10:25 EDT 2000

While we're on the subject of body repairs, I'm 
reminded to inquire about how to select a shop for 
such repairs.  

I had a low speed fender bender recently (my fault; 
turned left off a stopsign into the side of a guy 
coming off the opposite sign; sun in my eyes; 
preoccupied looking both ways; dumb). Mooshed in the 
front-left corner (fender, headlamp, edge of hood bent 
down, left bumber damper holder bent up a few inches 
into the bottom of the A/C concenser but maybe didn't 
damage it). 

Anyway, the only one really credible local shop (ie, 
cars-right-the-first-time) in the medium size city I 
live in didn't want the job after my insurance adjuster 
discussed it with them (' not sure if he scared 'em 
away or I did with too many questions). So I'm left 
with shops of lesser renown. 

How do I tell a good shop from another?  My impression 
is that any shop will cut all the corners they have to 
just to deliver the car back to you ASAP looking good 
enough so you don't reject it on the spot, and hope you 
don't ever see anything they didn't return to previous 
condition (read: cut corners), and argue with you about 
any you do find later, etc. 

Each of the estimates I've gotten (4) called out at 
least two erroneous part numbers (eg, 10V bumper cover 
instead of 20V), and I have this sinking feeling that 
if I don't doublecheck what they try to put on the car, 
they'll try to pass of whatever they order, incorrect or 
not. It's as if their estimating systems are all alike 
and mix parts from 10V & 20V cars normally (as if they 
know something the family album doesn't). 

How do I be sure they use factory parts and fasteners, 
factory proceedures for welding and paint, etc.  Is a 
small shop with personal rapport best?  What're the 
questions to ask and answers that indicate a credible 
shop? Is there a web site for such? Should I have to 
give them printouts from the family album so they're 
sure to order the right parts?

All I know from experience is where NOT to go: a large 
shop where so many people having their hands on the car; 
and wherever my insurance company recommends!  (That's 
whoever has a contract with them for a predetermined 
(ie, low) rate, so to make ends meet they hire the 
cheapest labor with the least experiece, etc).  ' learned 
that one the hard way from a simple broken headlamp 
replacement a few years back.  Oh, and I've NEVER heard 
of a dealer's own body shop that did excellent work, but 
a few that definitely didn't.   

Any comments or experience out there on selecting a body 


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