If you were recently involved in a crash, you likely didn’t just suffer painful injuries—you also sustained serious damage to your vehicle. Whether the damage is mostly cosmetic or it affected your vehicle’s reliability and functionality, it’s important to get it fixed right away, especially if the crash wasn’t your fault.
You rely on your vehicle to get to work, run errands, and to simply live your life. Getting it repaired should be as simple as taking it to a mechanic, but not all mechanics are created equal. As with any businesses, some body and repair shops have great reputations and do excellent work, while others are more akin to fly-by-night operations that use inferior components and provide shoddy service.
Making the right choice of repair facility can mean the difference between getting your vehicle back like-new again and dealing with various part failures and cosmetic issues for years to come.
How Do You Find the Right Mechanic or Body Shop?
Whether you’re a gearhead or just use your vehicle to get from point A to point B, you may be overwhelmed by the number of choices you face when choosing a mechanic or body shop after a crash. These tips can help you make the right choice:
- Check reviews—A quick Google search will likely turn up dozens of mechanics and body shops near you. Sort through these businesses by their reviews. If any shops have little to no reviews, or their average score is lower than 4/5 stars, cross them off the list. Use multiple sites to get a broad picture of their quality, and be sure to read individual reviews to get more info.
- Call the shop—Many shops offer online form submissions, but these aren’t always checked as frequently as they should be. Instead, consider calling shops you’re interested in. This can help you determine how well organized a shop is and even how interested it is in doing business with you.
- Visit the shop—After you’ve narrowed down your list to a few shops, visit them in person. They don’t have to be sparkling showrooms, but they should at least appear relatively neat, organized, and clean. In addition, you should be greeted and accommodated by an employee. If you’re ignored, shop elsewhere.
- Ask about warranties and guarantees—No two accidents are the same, and no two vehicles sustain the same damage after crashes. It’s up to repair shops to make the right decisions and use the right parts when fixing them. Sometimes, they make mistakes, and that’s where having a warranty or guarantee on the work is essential. Look for at least a two-year warranty on all parts and labor.
- Get a quote or estimate—When speaking with shop owners or intake staff, be sure to give them all the information about what happened to your vehicle. Then, ask for an estimate of how much it will cost to repair the damage. If they quote an extremely high or extremely low price, be wary. You should also be cautious if the shop refuses to give a dollar amount for the repairs.
Don’t Be “Steered” by the Insurance Company to a Specific Mechanic
In Oklahoma, vehicle owners are free to choose any repair shop to work on their vehicles after crashes, even if insurance companies are footing the bill for their repairs. However, many insurance companies have “preferred” mechanics and body shops that provide substandard work at cut-rate prices. Those insurers will strongly recommend or may even insinuate that claimants will only have their repairs paid for if they use their preferred shops.
This common practice is called “steering,” and it’s illegal in Oklahoma. In some cases, insurers get around this by suggesting a list of shops, which may create an appearance of neutrality and even helpfulness. But in reality, the insurance company may have a partnership with all of the shops on the provided list. Remember—insurance companies are in business to make money, and when they’re forced to pay up, they always look for ways to pay as little as possible.
You’re Also Free to Choose Which Parts Are Used to Repair Your Vehicle
When it comes to repairing accident-damaged vehicles, even the best mechanics are only as good as the parts they use. Ideally, the best parts are OEM, or original equipment manufacturer parts. These parts are typically the same as the damaged parts or extremely close to them in design, and as the name suggests, they’re made by the original manufacturer (made by Honda for Honda vehicles, by Ford for Ford vehicles, and so on). These parts often carry a price premium, but they’re typically the most reliable, especially when repairing damage to critical components.
It’s possible to save money using aftermarket parts, which are manufactured by other companies and are designed to replicate OEM parts. Aftermarket parts can vary in quality. Some can be superior to OEM parts and are priced accordingly. Others may be roughly equivalent, while some can be vastly inferior.
As with mechanics and body shops, insurance companies may “steer” claimants towards using specific aftermarket parts when repairing their vehicles. For vehicles that sustained significant damage, the difference between high-quality aftermarket or OEM parts and low-quality aftermarket parts can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars. But as they say, you get what you pay for.
We Want to Help You Get the Money You’re Owed after the Crash
After an accident that left you injured, the last thing you want is to pay out of pocket to get your vehicle fixed, or to get so little money that you’re forced to rely on poor service and inferior parts for your vehicle’s repairs. At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, our Oklahoma auto accident attorneys want to help you get maximum compensation for the crash, so you can get the peace of mind you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.