When to Get a Post Repair Inspection

How To Tell if Your Body Shop Did the Job Correctly

Getting into an accident is stressful enough without having to worry about the quality of the work performed by your auto body shop. Unfortunately, with the prevalence of insurance company referral networks, in which shops are pressured to complete rushed work which is often inadequate to properly repair your vehicle, getting your vehicle inspected after repairs is a necessity.

For more information about post-repair inspections, click here to read an in-depth article from PAC Diminished Value listing many of the common warning signs of a bad repair.

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Understand the work that will be performed from the beginning.

A good auto body shop will be transparent with its customers. They should be willing to walk you through each phase of the estimating and damage analysis process. Ask your point of contact at the collision repair facility to help you understand the work that will be performed, including the parts they will use. If your body shop is resistant to discussing their process or their findings with you, it should be considered a red flag.

Understand that the initial estimate from the insurance company is not the end of the process of analyzing the damage. A thorough body shop, interested in complete, safe repairs, will disassemble the vehicle to ensure that there is no hidden damage. Hidden, remaining damage, left unaddressed, can cause serious safety issues, as damaged parts will alter the way your vehicle responds in a subsequent accident.

As your body shop’s technicians discover additional damage, they will submit supplements to the initial estimate to ensure that your insurance company has complete documentation of all of the repairs that they will be required to cover as your vehicle is returned to pre-accident condition. Supplements to the initial estimate may not be necessary for cosmetic damage, but if your vehicle has been in a major collision, and your body shop tells you that all of the damage was visible from the surface of the vehicle, you may need a post-repair inspection to ensure there isn’t remaining damage that was left unaddressed.

Watch this video from Honda in which they describe what can happen to the safety of a vehicle when it isn’t repaired properly…

Crash Management Systems

Vehicle manufacturers spend millions of dollars every year engineering their vehicles to have advanced safety systems. Each component in a vehicle’s structure is designed to work together in the event of an accident, some parts crumpling and some remaining rigid in order to preserve protective space around the occupants of the vehicle. This is known as a crash management system. If parts remain crumpled or are improperly repaired when they should have been replaced, this crash management system will no longer function the way it was intended after an accident. Any body shop that tells you imitation parts or remaining damage aren’t a concern, doesn’t have your safety in their best interests.

Another sign that you’ve worked with a conscientious body shop is that they will have cleaned and detailed your vehicle before they return it. With all of the dust from the work that is performed in body shops, it can be challenge to return a clean vehicle, but that’s no excuse. A reputable body shop will have used paper and masking tape to keep the components of the vehicle clean during repairs, and will have carefully washed any areas on which repairs were performed. If your body shop returns a car that is dirty, or has parts or tools left behind, it’s a major red flag.
Keep in mind, appearances can be deceiving. Even a poorly repaired car can look good at first glance. When you receive the car, take a close look at the gaps between body panels. If you see a difference between the gaps on one side of the vehicle vs. the corresponding side, it’s a sign that there are structural problems with your car.

Check to make sure your cars open and close properly. If they don’t, certain things may have been misaligned. Look at the distance between the tire and the fender, especially if you’ve been in a front-end collision. If the distance on one side is wide and the other side narrow, your vehicle has probably been improperly aligned. Also, turn on the headlights and make sure that the beams are properly aligned.

The average consumer can’t be expected to be able to spot all of the problems with a repair. After all, this isn’t your profession, and you look to the experts to perform this kind of work. However, if you’ve noticed some of the issues in this article, it’s probably a good bet that there are significant additional problems with the repair, and a post-repair inspection by a reputable body shop is a necessity.

Try to pick your vehicle up during the day and take a close look at the paint job in bright daylight. One sign that the work performed on your vehicle was low quality is when there is a noticeable difference in the paint on the repaired parts of the vehicle vs. the parts that still have the original paint. Your body shop should be able to match your original color in both shade and finish. If you find imperfections, such as specks of dirt or runs, you should be concerned about the quality of repair you’ve received.
Sometimes, you won’t notice the problems with your repair until you’ve driven the vehicle for a significant period of time. For example, you may eventually notice uneven wear on your tires. This could mean that your suspension hasn’t been repaired correctly, or may still be damaged, which is potentially a very serious safety concern.

Another example is that over time a mildew smell could develop in your vehicle. This could be a sign that there is a water leak occurring as a result of misalignment or remaining damage. You could also notice that your steering wheel pulls to one side, or that you have dashboard warning indicators. These dashboard warning lights might not be a sign of a new mechanical problem, but could have originated with an improper repair.

If you notice these problems, your body shop will need to address these issues under their warranty. Any legitimate shop will have a warranty period of at least one year or 12,000 miles (Performance Auto Collision guarantees their workmanship and paint with a Lifetime Warranty). One option is to take your car back to that shop and point out the problems you’ve found and ask them to make sure there aren’t additional issues.

However, do you really trust the same shop that performed improper work to evaluate that work? Unfortunately, that shop may continue to try to minimize or even conceal the mistakes that were made. The best course of action is to take your vehicle to a reputable independent body shop who can do an unbiased evaluation of the work that was performed. A factory certified shop will have information and training from the manufacturer, which puts them in the best possible position to evaluate the integrity of your crash management and safety systems.

To speak with a certified appraiser for assistance with an inspection, we recommend PAC Diminished Value (click here to visit their website).

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