5 Tips for Choosing the Right Auto Body Shop, auto paint shops.#Auto #paint #shops


5 Tips for Choosing the Right Auto Body Shop

Save Thousands by Knowing What To Look for

03/08/2011 – By Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor

It’s not uncommon for estimates from different body shops to vary wildly. One shop might give you an estimate for $500 while another wants $2,000 for the work. What’s the difference? And when is it OK to choose the cheaper shop?

1) Pay Attention to Word-of-Mouth

Any business can advertise, but you’ll do better with a shop that friends, family or acquaintances recommend. It’s a business that has proven it can satisfy customers. And it might not be the biggest or best-known shop in your area.

Mallette went to a shop years ago on such recommendations and found that the owner was a “real stand-up guy. He doesn’t advertise on the Internet; it’s a family-owned shop,” Mallette says. “But, golly, if you take your car there, you’ll get a fair price.”

In some cases, you might get a recommendation for a small shop where the owner works on the cars himself. “That’s how I like doing business,” Mallette says. “To me it seems so much more personal and then you can understand what’s really going on with your car.”

2) Consider the Operation’s Location and Overhead

“Where you get screwed in our business is labor hours,” Mallette explains. His shop charges $40 per hour for labor. But in ritzy parts of West Los Angeles, the per-hour labor charge is $60-$65. In wealthy Newport Beach, California, Mallette has heard of $90-per-hour labor charges.

Large body shops with a lot of front-office workers probably have to charge higher rates to pay their staff. While service delivered by front-desk folks, managers and foremen gives some people a feeling of confidence in the business, it can result in estimates that are padded with non-essential work. When they’re charging more labor hours at a higher rate, your bill can add up quickly.

In his shop, Mallette says he does things by the book literally. Body shops and garages use reference guides that estimate the number of hours required to perform common repairs.

“Let’s say somebody has damage to their fender, bumper and headlight,” Mallette tells us. “I go to my book, I write an estimate and I basically go by the hours mandated by the book.”

By contrast, the higher-end shops might decide to charge for everything in “the gray area,” meaning those things that they might have to do to fix the problem. In Mallette’s example, high-end estimates might include a charge for time spent removing the hood and the door, while his judgment call is not to perform this additional work.

Taking your car to several auto body shops for repair quotes is the best way to avoid overcharges, Mallette notes. “I’ll tell people to go get some estimates and bring ’em back to me. I’ll match estimates if I can.”

And while it’s important to protect against being overcharged, you shouldn’t simply take the lowest quote. “You might get some kind of midnight guy who will say he can do it really cheap,” he says. “Stay away from those guys, because there is something they’re not doing. You could have major problems down the road.”

4) Ask the Right Questions

When choosing a body shop, “you don’t go in with your pocketbook open,” Mallette explains. “You go in smart,” and ask some key questions. Does the shop provide a written warranty? And if so, for how long? What does the warranty cover?

A one-year warranty is a minimum, Mallette says. His shop offers a two-year warranty for body work and a three-year warranty for complete paint jobs. Some shops offer lifetime warranties as a selling point, but that isn’t realistic, he says.

“Most of the stipulations and conditions those warranties require are more restrictive than the majority of people can adhere to,” he says. “So basically, the warranty becomes useless.”

Another key question is whether the shop carries fire and theft insurance. You want to be sure you’re covered if your car is destroyed, stolen or burglarized. Don’t forget to ask how long the shop has been in business. Make sure it has a business license.

You will also want to know about the materials the shop intends to use. Are new, used or aftermarket body parts going to be used? New parts are obviously the best and used parts are fine, though they don’t offer the savings people imagine. Depending on the damage to your vehicle, aftermarket parts can save a lot of money and can be just as good as the ones that come from the original manufacturer. If paint work is involved, ask how many coats of paint and clear coat the shop intends to use.

Finally, it’s important to trust your intuition about the shop you’re considering. If a shop isn’t busy, maybe that’s because customers are avoiding it because of shoddy repairs. If the place is really dirty, cluttered or disorganized, this might reflect the kind of work you could expect the shop to do with your car. Is the shop owner or manager a grouch who seems to resent answering your questions? You’ll be happier with a shop where the owner communicates well and is straightforward with customers.

“Trust your gut,” Mallette says. “If your gut tells you the guy’s shady I wouldn’t even go there.”


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A fresh lick of paint can breathe new life into your car, and we’ve put together this guide to help.

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Whether your car has a few scratches here or there or its entire paint job needs to be completely overhauled, a fresh coat of paint can make a world of difference to its appearance. Read on for our tips on how to achieve that perfect finish.

Our colour match paint mixing service offers 48,000 colours including colours for both classic cars and motorbikes. Use the correct coloured primer and remember: if you’re using metallic paint, over-spray the finish with lacquer to get the correct shine.

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Spray Painting Your Car

The best time for you to spray paint your car is in the summer when it’s warm and dry, as aerosols don’t always work well in the damp and colder temperatures slow down the drying time. If it’s not warm and dry outside, work in a well-ventilated garage. Wear overalls or old clothes and disposable gloves – goggles and a dust mask will also keep stray droplets of spray paint away from your eyes, nose and mouth.

To prepare your vehicle for spraying, rub the surface down using aluminium oxide abrasive paper (graded at 80 grit) down to bare metal. Apply a rust treatment product if required and allow it to dry fully.

The area to be painted should now be clean and dry – any traces of dirt or wax can be removed using cellulose thinners. Mask off any areas not being painted using masking tape and newspaper (to avoid hard edges, increase the area to be painted by moving the masking tape back gradually as you apply each coat of paint).

Holding the spray can approximately 25cm away from the surface to be painted, apply a number of coats of primer at 15-minute intervals until the area is evenly covered. Go an inch over the original layer of paint to help it blend in, using several light layers of paint.

Step 5: Preparing to Paint

Allow at least 24 hours for the primer to dry thoroughly, then rub down with 1200 grit wet and dry paper until smooth. Clean the area with warm, soapy water, rinse, and then dry fully.

Step 6: Applying the Paint

To start painting, shake the can vigorously for two minutes to ensure the paint is thoroughly mixed. Apply a number of coats at 15-minute intervals, shaking the can between each one.

If you’re using a metallic paint colour, allow the paintwork 24 hours to dry then rub it down with 1200 grit wet and dry paper. It should lose its gloss appearance and take on a dull, matt finish. Clean with warm, soapy water, rinse and dry.

Nearly there! Now you need to apply two coats of lacquer, separated by a gap of 15-minutes.

If the finish looks patchy, apply another coat of paint or wait until the surface is completely dry before rubbing it down and starting the lacquering process again.

Et voila! We now recommend that you stand back and admire your work.


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