June 14, 2022

How to find an accident repair centre

If you’ve been involved in an accident, you might still be in shock. How to find an accident repair centre and ways to vet your new mechanic are probably consuming your thoughts. But in today's 10-minute read, we’re going to help you look for a body shop, get a competitive quote and answer some of the core questions on bodywork that you might have following an accident.

1. What makes a good accident repair centre?

A good accident repair centre will have a high review rating - ideally by your friends and family. But if you’re not local to them, at least on Google or Tripadvisor. They will not ask for the full payment up front and they will let you pay in whatever method is convenient for you. If you want them, they’ll give you the old parts related to any accident repair. And they will provide you with a detailed quote upfront and in writing. If you have a dispute, a good accident repair centre will work with you to address your concerns. Lastly, they will guarantee their work to a reasonable extent and provide reliable quality.

2. How do I find a good accident repair centre?

Finding a good accident repair centre is easy. Start by asking your friends, family and co-workers for recommendations. If they can’t provide anyone they rely on, turn to online reviews. Google and Tripadvisor are great places to go to see what a shop is rated on its best and worst days. When you have a shortlist, get a few quotes. Never just go to the first place you contact. You need to get a range of quotes to make sure your accident repair is being priced fairly. Send in good-quality pictures to make sure you’re representing the damage correctly.

3. How do you know if an accident repair centre is fair?

A fair shop will provide you with a quote in advance based on pictures of the damage. You can compare this quote with 2 or 3 others to make sure you’re getting a good rate. Check Google too. Reviews of the shop can help you understand the experience of other customers who have used their services. Remember to ask about how long and under what conditions they will guarantee this repair. And you may even want to keep the parts they remove just as a precaution.

4. What happens with insurance after an accident?

If you get into an accident, stop. Exchange your contact and insurance details with anyone else involved and record their info. Take pictures and record any details from the location to help with your insurance claim. If the road is blocked, call the police. If anyone is hurt, call an ambulance. Do not apologise or admit guilt and don’t accuse others. When you get home, tell your insurance company. You won’t want them finding out from the other driver. This includes even when you don’t want to make a claim. If the other driver didn’t stop, report the hit and run to the police and your insurance. If you’ve hit a farm animal or dog, tell the police.

5. Do they have to give you the old parts?

If you request for the old parts to be returned to you when you make the appointment then they have to give them to you.  The Motor Ombudsman explains, “As the owner of the vehicle, you are entitled to keep any parts that are removed from your car during a service or repair, regardless of their condition. When booking in your car for work, it is important that you notify the garage at this stage not to dispose of any old parts that are taken off your vehicle.”

6. Do you pay for car repair beforehand?

It’s standard to pay after repairs are completed. A garage may take a deposit. According to the AA, “A garage that has repaired your car has what is known as a 'lien'. This is the right to keep the car until they’ve been paid for all work done. If you take your car away without authorisation you risk both civil proceedings and criminal prosecution. Apart from legal proceedings or leaving your car while any dispute is sorted out, the only option is to pay the amount demanded, marking the invoice as 'paid under protest’.” But if the shop is asking you to pay everything up front or in cash, this could be a sign of a dodgy accident repair centre.

7. What's in a good repair quote?

Providing a quote in writing isn’t usually a legal requirement, but a good accident repair centre will be willing to do this anyway. Remember that an estimate is just that - their best guess at how much time it will take to do the job and what the parts will cost. It’s not a firm or binding price. So, it’s important to get quotes from several sources to make sure you’re getting a good deal. In general, a good repair quote will detail:

  • The make and model of your vehicle
  • Description of the problem
  • Recommended fix
  • Parts & labour
  • Working days to complete

If you’ve not had your car serviced in a while, you may choose to do this first as it will generate a quote for other works. The AA explains, “All services will involve visual checks to your car, like looking for damage to your car’s body or wheels. They’ll also include manual checks [on] things like your brakes and gearbox to make sure they’re working as they should. If you have an electric or hybrid car, the checks will include your charging port, cables and connections.” If you know you have body damage, this will already be one of the things the auto shop checks for in addition to any hidden issues you might not be aware of.

8. Summary

How to find an accident repair centre is often top-of-mind after a collision. Remember to check reviews, get multiple quotes and compare service records before committing to a shop. If you need a car service, this might help you identify the full range of fixes required without additional steps. And lastly, if you’re not happy with the repair, let the garage know so they can resolve it for you.

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