The process of getting your vehicle repaired can go many ways. When you’ve realized you need your car fixed, this is the typical process to expect. It starts by choosing a shop for to obtain a quote from, but first you may need to determine who is going to be paying for the repair.
First if it was not your fault you may want to give the other party a chance to pay for the repair bill before reporting it to your insurance company. On more affordable repair, the other party may prefer this method to avoid a knock against there driving record & rates and can avoid you from making a claim, possibly paying a deductible. This is often the best way to go, but just remember if they can’t pay now they probably can’t pay later. Deal with the problem and get the money right away to avoid a potential backfire.
Next you may want to see what you are covered for by your insurance company. If your covered for the repair then you may want to see how your rates are affected before you go ahead with an insurance paid repair. Don’t forget to see what your deductible is and factor in rental coverage too, sometimes your covered but not always. Your insurance company may recommend a preferred shop to you to save them some money. This is not always in your best interest so make sure your comfortable with that shop or better yet, pick your own!
If you are paying for the job yourself then you will have some decisions to make. If you let the shop know ahead of time they may price the job accordingly. Make sure you understand what they are doing differently before you commit to allowing a repair, understand the consequences of repairing what should be replaced and using inferior (aftermarket) parts.
Once you’ve decided how its to be paid for you should go get yourself an auto body repair estimate. Do a bit of research on finding a high quality shop, have a look at an article here called “how to find a quality body shop”. An auto body repair estimate will vary from shop to shop, the basic difference is the shops door rate but also what they are doing to the vehicle. One shop may fail to charge for something or just skip a necessary repair step all together. If one repair estimate is lower don’t assume it’s because that shop just likes you better, you may be getting shafted.
Once you’re comfortable with your auto body repair estimate and you’re comfortable with your auto body repair shop, you should book in your job along with any necessary rental vehicle. Often rental companies require little notice but this can ensure you get the vehicle you want if you make arrangements ahead of time.
Once you drop off your car on the scheduled date you should ideally be able to sit back and relax while your car is getting repaired. On minor repairs your shop should be able to provide you with a firm deadline for the completion date. While your enjoying your rental your car will enter a few different departments at the auto body repair shop.
Body Repair – this department removes all of the necessary trim, door handles, mirrors, bumpers, moldings (basically anything that needs to be removed for paint access). They will then hammer the dents straight and apply a body filler followed by a block sanding to restore the damaged area to the original shape.
Prep Dept – the prep/paint department will apply necessary primers to the body filler, followed by necessary sanding to prepare the panel for painting. They will then mask off the area to prevent overspray to the rest of the vehicle.
Painter – The painter does exactly what you might expect, sprays the color over the panel and blends it out. This is then followed by a clear coat for protection. After drying it is back to the body repair department to reassemble any trim that was previously removed.
Cleanup / Detail – Any reputable shop will then pass it on to the detailing department that will hopefully have your vehicle as clean as you’ve ever seen it prior to pickup.
This is the basic pipeline for your typical auto body repair. Every shop is different and insurance regulations differ to, check your insurance policy to avoid any surprises when making a claim.