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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!