Our partners at CARSTAR offer high-quality, reliable repair service in 30 states and 10 Canadian provinces. We asked them if they could provide some insider insight into what makes a great repair shop, and they gave us the following 5 tips for finding a reputable repair facility.

Spare yourself a headache

“It’s all about doing your research, making sure they are well-trained, certified and financially solid, and confirming all of the details of the repair process in writing,” says Dan Bailey, president and COO of CARSTAR. “Just doing some homework in advance can save a lot of headaches and money in the long run.”

Ask your insurance company for advice

If you skip tip 1, go directly to your insurance company. Esurance, for example, offers an E-star® locator that makes it easy to find an approved facility in your neck of the woods. Choosing a shop that your insurer recommends gives them leverage to assist you should an issue arise during the process or after the repairs are complete. In the case of E-star shops, it also means a lifetime guarantee on your repairs.

Choose an established shop

Always beware of fly-by-night operators trying to make a quick buck off of weather events like hail storms or tornadoes. If a shop’s set up in a tent or temporary location, don’t trust it with your vehicle. Make sure their technicians are I-CAR trained and find out if the shop belongs to any business or trade associations.

See for yourself

Visit the body shop and survey the location. If the lobby, customer areas, and repair bays are clean and well-organized, it’s more likely the business is well run. We also recommend you talk with the staff — it doesn’t take long to determine if they will treat you with respect and honesty.

Get it in writing

Once you feel comfortable with a repair shop, be sure to get the following in writing before repairs begin:

  • A detailed description of the parts to be replaced and whether they are OEM, new or refurbished, and in what condition the car will be returned to you.
  • An exact timeline of when the work will be done and the job completed (Keep in mind, that if additional damage is found, the completion date could change.)
  • Detailed payment terms and methods, including down payment, final payment, and costs for any follow-up work.
  • The terms of the warranty. Reputable repair facilities will offer a warranty of some sort for the work they complete. Make sure the terms are clearly explained and set down on paper.

It’s also a good idea to ask the store manager for regular updates on the job, and require approval for any work done outside the original estimate. (With RepairView™ from Esurance, you’ll receive daily photos, online or on your smartphone, of your repairs in progress.)

“Taking your car to a body shop doesn’t have to be an intimidating or frightening process,” Bailey said. “A good auto body repair center is your partner in repairing your car and returning you to the road safely. You want to make sure you do your research to find a partner that truly fits your repair needs.”

For information on CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts and store locations visit www.CARSTAR.com.

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