If you were recently in an accident and your vehicle needs some body work done on it, you need to understand what different type of body shops exist in your area. Being informed about the different types of body shops will help you narrow your search and will help you only spend time calling shops that fit your specific auto body collision repair needs.
#1 Independent Body Shops
Independent body shops are often the most affordable options if money is a concern with your auto body repair. They tend to cost less than dealership repair shops and can help you keep your bill a little lower.
In order to ensure that the quality of work your receive from the mechanics at an independent body shop is high, you need to look for auto body shops that carry nationally recognized certifications. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) as well as the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collison Repair (i-CAR) are the two most widely recognized and respected certifications an independent auto body shop can receive.
#2 Dealership Repair Shops
The repair shops at most dealerships are set up to handle both minor and major collision repair work. There are a few advantages that come along with taking your vehicle to the dealership for auto body work.
The first advantage is that the dealership is more likely than any other shop to have the parts in stock to fix your vehicle. They most likely will not have to spend time waiting for the necessary parts to arrive, which can add onto your repair time. If they don't have the parts in stock, since they only work on the specific make of car that you drive, they should be able to quickly locate any necessary parts.
The second advantage is that the mechanics at dealerships repair shops work exclusively on the vehicles from the same manufacturer. Your car is probably not the first vehicle of whatever specific make and model you drive that they have worked on; they have probably worked on hundreds of similar vehicles before. This familiarity makes the mechanics an expert on your vehicle; this will allow them to more quickly make repairs and spot issues with your vehicle.
The third advantage is that if your vehicle is under warranty, you may not have to pay for repairs out of pocket or you may get discounts on the repairs that fall outside of your warranty protection.
The only drawback to dealerships is that you generally pay for the specialization that you receive; you may find that the labor hours charged are higher than independent body shops.
#3 Specialty Collision Shops
Finally, in between independent body shops and dealerships are specialty collision repair shops experience and price wise. These shops generally only work on specific types of vehicles; for example, they may only work on foreign vehicles, trucks, or luxury vehicles. That makes the mechanics at the shop highly skilled with working on the types of vehicles that they specialize in.
Just like with independent shops, you should make sure that any specialty collision shops you are interested in working with carry a nationally recognized auto body certification as well as specific certifications in whatever type of vehicle that they specialize in.
All three types of body shops can offer you quality work; the key is to find a shop that fits your specific vehicle needs and budget.