What Should You Look for After Collision Repair?

Once your car is ready to be picked up from the auto body shop, you might be tempted to immediately drive away and put the whole accident behind you. But how do you know that your car was repaired properly?

The best step to take is to do an inspection before you leave the shop. Although there likely won’t be any problems, it’s easier to address them while your car is still at the repair facility. So, what should you be looking for? Here are a few tips:

  • If possible, pick your car up during the day and make sure it’s outside, so you can easily see flaws in the paint or other issues. A reputable shop will make sure the areas they’ve repaired are clean, so there’s no dirt present to hide any damage.
  • Look at your car up close and far away – sometimes flaws or damage will stand out with a change of perspective.
  • Examine the paint. Do the color and texture match? Even though the best paint jobs won’t be a 100% match to the factory paint, the new paint should blend seamlessly with no noticeable differences. Also, check to make sure there’s no overspray on areas that shouldn’t have paint.
  • Check the panel gaps (the spaces between the body panels) to make sure they’re even.
  • Open and close the doors, hood, trunk, or tailgate. Everything should open and close easily. Check that your windows also open and close easily if you had repairs on either of the doors.
  • How do the edges between the tires and edges of the fenders look? If the body and the frame are aligned properly, they should match side to side.

Test Drive

If you’ve had any mechanical repairs, it’s also important to take your car for a test drive.

  • Start the engine and look at the dashboard – are there any warning lights? If the vehicle was repaired properly, all the error codes should be cleared.
  • Turn on your headlights while facing a wall; if there are headlight alignment issues, this should be easy to spot. Also, check to make sure your brake lights, blinkers, and hazards are working properly.
  • While you’re driving, pay close attention to your car. How does it feel? Do you notice any odd vibrations or rattling? Does the steering react the way it did before the accident? How about tracking? Does your car stay straight when you brake or does it seem to pull to one side?
  • Throughout your drive, you should also keep an eye on the engine temperature because uncorrected front-end damage can lead to coolant leaks or prevent the radiator from getting enough ventilation to remove heat from the coolant.

Other Considerations and Repair Issues

  • Poor alignment
    If your car is pulling in one direction after the repair, this could indicate that the frame is bent or a misaligned unibody. Although some frames and unibodies can be straightened after a collision, others cannot, and they typically won’t drive straight. Not only does this cause poor handling, but it also can cause rapid tire wear.
  • Clipping
    This is something you definitely don’t want to see on your vehicle! Clipping refers to a repair method where an entire section from another vehicle has been welded onto your vehicle. While this was a common practice decades ago, it’s not recommended for newer vehicles, which are made from lightweight high-strength materials. Welding a new section to a new vehicle could compromise your safety by creating structural weaknesses.
  • Airbags
    Were your airbags replaced? Unfortunately, there have been rare cases of unscrupulous shops charging insurance companies for a new bag, only to turn around and sell it. Check to see if your airbag light is on or if the center of your steering wheel column sounds hollow after your knock on it.
  • Aftermarket and used parts
    Some insurance companies may push for auto body shops to use aftermarket or used parts, which are lower in cost. Unfortunately, these parts may not meet the original manufacturer’s specifications or they may even go against the manufacturer’s recommendations. Ask the shop to show you an invoice or receipt for the parts used on your car. The parts used could make a big difference if you were to get into another accident.
  • Torque
    If you had parts replaced in your suspension system, they need to be torqued to the manufacturer’s specifications. Failing to do so could result in a loose assembly that will affect your handling and performance. Ask the auto body shop which procedures they use when replacing suspension parts and if they can provide the torque specification.

What’s next?

If you’ve inspected your vehicle and aren’t satisfied, make sure to mention this to the shop immediately. A reputable shop should be willing to correct any issues you find.

Of course, the best way to prevent issues in the first place is by choosing the right shop! At Cline Collision Center, we use only OEM parts and repair methods, and we stand by every repair. We perform a thorough check on all vehicles before they’re released, and we’re always happy to go over any and all repairs that were completed on your vehicle. Our goal is always to return your car to its perfect pre-accident condition – and for you to drive away 100% happy!

To avoid common issues and pitfalls with auto body repair, give us a call today at 707-591-9909 or schedule an appointment online!

How to Use Online Reviews to Select an Auto Body Shop

You rely on your car every day, so getting into an accident isn’t only scary – it’s inconvenient. That’s why it matters where you choose to get your repairs. You need your car back quickly, but you also need your car to be properly repaired and safe to drive. Who wants to risk another collision, right after having collision repair?

For this reason, you shouldn’t choose the first auto body shop that appears in the search results. But if you’ve never worked with an auto body shop before, how can you know who to trust with your vehicle? Beyond getting referrals from people you know, online reviews can be very helpful for finding more information to make the right decision. 

Vetting Online Reviews

The first place many people look for reviews online are sites like Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List. Although these are helpful to give you an overall idea about what to expect with service and customer satisfaction, it’s important to understand that not all customer review sites are the same. Some websites will let anyone post a review, regardless of whether they’re a legitimate customer or not. Other websites allow featured businesses to place ads sponsoring positive reviews to increase their visibility.

Another issue with online review sites is that it can be difficult to know if the reviews you’re reading are truthful. Statistically, customers who had a bad experience at a business are far more likely to leave a review than a customer who left completely satisfied. It’s also not uncommon for bad reviews to include some exaggerated points to make the experience with the business sound even worse.

A better option is to search for verified customer testimonial platforms, like Carwise or Auto Body Review. These are specialized sites that only allow real customers to post reviews. If you’re looking for accurate information about what to expect from an auto body shop, a verified customer testimonial platform is the best place to check out.

Websites that specialize in educating consumers are growing in popularity because consumers have shifted to using them to make their purchase decisions – and not just in the automotive industry. Today, nearly 90% of consumers look at online reviews before deciding whether to choose a service or purchase a product. In addition, 84% of consumers trust the reviews they read online – which means most people trust online reviews as much as they would trust a referral from friends or family.

Don’t Forget About Forums!

Keep in mind that forums can also be a reliable source of information that’s just as good as word of mouth. Comments in online forums tend to be a genuine reflection of a people’s experience with shops. Customer discussion forums can also be a channel for communication between an auto body shop and its clientele. Interaction between the two can give you insight into how well the shop stands by its work and how they interact with their customers.

Forums also present an excellent opportunity for the business to respond to customers that may have had a negative experience. Look for companies that obviously care about customer satisfaction and building a relationship with their customers.  

It’s also important to remember that with everything, there’s always room for improvement. Negative reviews aren’t going to be ignored by a reputable company that’s interested in customer satisfaction and improving their work; instead, they’ll take the time to listen to customer advice and complaints and use this feedback to provide better service.

Additional Tips

Here are a few more tips for finding reliable information about an auto body shop:

1.   Look into several different auto body shops in your area.

2.   Ignore posts that are poorly written or that tend to use a lot of capital letters or exclamation points.

3.   Skip reading the really short responses like, “They were great!” Brief reviews won’t give you enough information to understand the type of service and the repair quality you can expect to receive. Instead, look for longer, well-written reviews that include details.

4.   Try to find testimonials that are specific to the make and model of your vehicle.

5.   Do a search on information about the type of repairs you need, and check to see if the shop has a good track record fixing them.

6.   Keep in mind that businesses change over time. If a shop has reviews going back ten years, focus instead on the ones that are more recent – no more than a few years old.

How to Leave an Effective Review for an Auto Body Shop

If you’ve already had collision repair performed on your vehicle, you may want to consider leaving a review to help other consumers make their decision. Here are some things to remember when writing a review:

1.     Leave constructive feedback. Think about what you liked or didn’t like about the service; how can the shop make improvements?

2.     Clearly explain the reasons you were happy or unhappy, such as quality of the repairs, customer relations, policies, etc.

3.     Keep the tone of your review honest, but stay civil – even if you were unhappy with the service.

4.     Be sure to include the dates you had the services performed, along with the make and model of your vehicle and the type of work the shop carried out.

5.     Don’t include links to websites or any personal information.

6.     Read through your review before publishing it to make sure you’ve included all the important information and points you wanted to make.

7.     Update your feedback if needed.

Cline Collision’s Commitment to Excellence

At Cline Collision Center, our top priorities are customer satisfaction and providing safe, high-quality repairs. We value feedback from our customers and continually work to ensure we provide the best possible auto body repair in Sonoma County. From paintless dent removal to extensive collision repairs and aluminum body repairs, we handle it all – and we hold OEM certifications with many of the top automakers. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have about your auto body repair or schedule an appointment with us today!