After a collision, it’s common to want to put the whole situation behind you as quickly as possible. So when the auto body shop lets you know your car is ready to pick up, you might be tempted to just sign the papers and drive away. But how can you tell if your repairs were done correctly? Here are a few tips on what to look for:
Get an Overview of What Was Done to Your Car
Once you arrive at the shop, a facility team member should walk around the car with you and explain what was done and why. This is the perfect time to ask questions on anything you’re wondering about or are unclear on. If you didn’t already ask about the shop’s warranty when you dropped your car off, you may want to ask about that now. Many reputable shops guarantee their work for one year or 12,000 miles. European Collision Center has a lifetime warranty on all repairs. Once the initial once-over is done, it’s time for a visual inspection.
Is Your Vehicle Clean?
When you pick up your car, it should always be clean. Dirt or dust on the exterior of your car can hide imperfections in the paint. Make sure that your vehicle has been washed and there are no old parts lying around in the trunk, engine compartment, or interior.
Examine the Repaired Areas
The next thing you should do is to examine the areas that have been repaired. Does the paint match? Is there overspray on areas that shouldn’t have paint? Do the body panels lie flat and evenly? If you had repairs done near your doors, windows, hood, trunk, or gas tank, make sure they all open and close with ease. If there was front-end damage, check under the hood to make sure that all the hoses and wires are connected. Turn on the headlights –alignment issues should be fairly obvious. If the frame needed to be straightened, request a copy of the frame spec printout and have the technician explain it to you. If any mechanical repairs were done, you should also take your car for a test drive to ensure everything is in good working order and there are no unusual noises, like rattling panels.
Common Repair Issues
In addition to the visual inspection, here are some common repair issues to watch out for:
- Poor alignment – Is your car pulling in one direction after repairs? This could be a sign that the frame is bent or that the unibody structure is misaligned. Although some frames and unibodies can be straightened after a collision, others can’t – and they typically won’t drive straight or handle properly. This can also cause rapid tire wear.
- Clipping – Clipping refers to an older repair method where an entire section of another vehicle is welded onto your car. This was a common practice decades ago, but it’s not the right way to repair newer vehicles made from lightweight high-strength materials. Clipping can create structural weaknesses that can compromise the safety of your vehicle.
- Airbags – Were your airbags replaced? Unfortunately, there have been rare cases of unscrupulous shops charging insurance companies for a new bag, only to turn around and sell it. Check to see if your airbag light is on or if the center of your steering wheel column sounds hollow after your knock on it.
- Aftermarket and used parts
Some insurance companies may push for auto body shops to use aftermarket or used parts, which are lower in cost. Unfortunately, these parts may not meet the original manufacturer’s specifications or they may even go against the manufacturer’s recommendations. Ask the shop to show you an invoice or receipt for the parts used on your car, because the parts used could make a significant difference if you were to get into another accident.
- Torque -If you had parts replaced in your suspension system, they need to be torqued to the manufacturer’s specifications. Failing to do so could result in a loose assembly that will affect your handling and performance. Ask the auto body shop which procedures they use when replacing suspension parts and if they can provide the torque specification.
If you’ve inspected your vehicle and aren’t satisfied, make sure to mention this to the shop immediately. A reputable shop should be willing to correct any issues you find.
Of course, the best way to prevent repair issues in the first place is by choosing the right repair shop. At European Collision Center, we adhere to factory repair procedures on every make and model we service, and we perform a thorough check on all vehicles before they’re released. We’re always happy to go over what was done to your vehicle and why – and take the time to show you the areas that were repaired. Our goal is always to return your car to its perfect pre-accident condition – and for you to drive away 100% satisfied!