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Have you ever wondered why when you take your vehicle to 3 different body shops for estimates, you get 3 different estimates?.  Not only is it confusing, it is also very frustrating for customers.  Chaz Auto Body wants to help you by explaining why this happens.

Before we go any further, let’s first explain what an estimate is.  An estimate is a “blueprint” for repair; it explains very specifically the proposed repairs to fix the vehicle.  The estimate should only assess the visible damage and never make assumptions about hidden damage.  The estimate always needs to be in writing and advanced shops, like Chaz Auto Body, use advanced software  to improve the accuracy of an estimate.  The more accurate and complete the estimate, the better chance that there are no surprises when vehicle is repaired.  A cheaper and less extensive estimate typically ends up costing a consumer more in the end.  Remember, cheaper isn’t always right.  Also, always make sure the estimate does not leave something out.

The first thing that can create differences in estimates is the type and quality of methods and procedures a body shop uses to repair vehicles. For example, some body shops require employees to remove all moldings, mirrors, and door handles before a vehicle is painted. Not only is this the best way, it ensures a professional and long-lasting result.  Surprisingly a number of  shops do not work this way.  Additionally, many shops mask off the affected areas. However, masking creates seams or lines where the paint can erode, and eventually causes the paint to peel.  This is frequently seen on the door handles of repaired cars.  Shops with less than professional methods, procedures and policies can affect the estimate.

Auto body shops have different beliefs when it comes to selecting the source of parts to repair a vehicle: aftermarket, used, or factory.  The source of parts can have a dramatic impact upon the estimate you receive.  All estimates need to clearly state the source of part used.  Remember, the customer always has a say in what parts are used to repair their vehicle.

The insurance company paying for the repairs can also have an affect upon the estimate.  Insurance companies may require their customers to use aftermarket parts or pay the difference if the customer selects something different.   If you are the person who was not at fault, or claimant, you should have the choice in part source.

In today’s competitive market, auto body shop labor rates are about the same, usually within a few dollars of each other.   Some also use the same software and guide books to decide fees and prices.  In theory, estimates from different body shops that use the same parts and procedures should produce similar estimates.  As you compare estimates, make sure to ask the estimator to explain their quote in detail and how they came up with the projected cost. This explanation always needs to match the estimate.  In the end, select the shop that has written the most accurate and complete estimate. At Chaz Auto Body you will find that we offer superior and consistent service at all of our locations.   To learn more about Chaz Auto Body and our standards of excellence, please visit our website at www.ChazAutoBody.com.  We look forward to working with you.

When shopping for a collision repair shop, be sure to look for a shop that takes pride in its appearance. They say don’t judge a book by its cover but a messy shop may be an indication of a lack of pride, and a lack of pride is likely to reflect in their workmanship. Most professional auto body shops will keep their office and shop clean and orderly. Carefully inspect the office first then ask to see the shop. Most shops will give you a tour if you request it but be cautious with ones that hide their shop behind policies. If the shop is messy and disorganized, you may want to keep shopping.

Be sure to look for their various licenses, permits, and certifications. All Alaska shops are required to have a state & local business license, a tax permit, an EPA certificate, and a hazardous materials permit. The better shops will be certified by I-CAR (the training standard of the industry) as a Gold Class shop. For even more professionalism, look to see if they are certified ASE mechanicss, and members of the Better Business Bureau or their local chambers of commerce.

When touring a shop, be sure to ask about their equipment. Do they have a frame rack with a computerized measuring system? A car accident can bend your frame, and a bent frame can be dangerous. Believe it or not, some body shops don’t have proper frame equipment; it not required by law. Also be sure that if they have a frame rack, that it has a computerized measuring system that can print you out a copy of the before and after results. Don’t take any chances.

Do they have a downdraft paint booth? All body shops are required by federal laws to paint in booths that filter the harmful vapors produced by paints. However, most body shops use an overhead draft system which forces the paint, as well as dust and contaminates from the floor, to vent over the vehicle. This creates unnecessary extra steps for cleaning and drastically takes away from the overall quality of the paint job. A downdraft spray booth pulls all the air from the top and forces it down to the floor, leaving your vehicle dust free afterwards.

Also, make sure that their paint booth has baking capacity. It literally takes weeks for new paint to fully cure, but to ensure the quality of the paint, the outer shell should be a hard as possible before reintroducing into the shop. If not dust and contaminates will get stuck in the new paint. Most professional shops have paint booths with baking capacities and the best shops have smart baking cycle systems. Be sure to ask or contact us at www.chazautobody.com for more information.

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