Tech Tips
Body Shops
To Do or Not do Do

I help my friend in his auto body business and in speaking with him and observing the business I will offer some tips when it's time to get the ol' ride spruced up.

The clear coat is fading on the ol' Bird from that cheap Van Nuys paint job and it's time for a complete make over. You want a show car quality paint job but you want it cheap........ AND QUICK.

Then you wake up from your dream.........

Drive Thru Paint Jobs - Earl Schieb, Maaco, you know the names. Complete paint job 200 bucks, 400 bucks. Start here to find out what you're REALLY getting. Folks the chemicals alone on a good paint job run about $800.00. This is dealer cost not retail. And this is just a good job......... not the best stuff. This doesn't include prep, bodywork, de-trim, re-trim, color sand & buff. So what are you getting when you do the drive thru.........? The quick paint places have their place. If I were going to spruce up a car to sell I might consider it, else forget it. Cheap chemicals, skipped steps, no durability. Not worth it.

So What Do You Do? - We are all in a "catch 22". We have 3 choices:
Quickie - Cheapie - Drive Thru - See Above
Auto Body Shops -
make their living doing insurance work. Sorry but this is a fact. This is the bread and butter and is what pays the bills. Most shops cringe when someone wants a complete paint job on an older car. Why? Because you're going to quote the customer $2500.00 to $5000.00 on their car and they are going to whine about it because the car is only NADA valued at $2500.00 in the first place. And in the time it takes to do that $2500.00 complete you could do $25,000.00 in insurance work fixing little ol' ladies fenders and hoods who are "delighted" with you because you straightened out their boo boo when they slammed the pole at Wal-Mart.
Restoration Shops
- Plan on $20,000.00 and up for a superb job........ need I say more.

Eliminate the quickie and the restoration shop and we are left with two possibilities
do it yourself or try the body shop. Here are some tips for negotiating with the body men.

Schedule - your car in the shops "off" time. Most areas are seasonal due to weather (hail damage, flood damage, wind damage, slick snowy roads, etc.) If they can work your car in when they are not busy on insurance work then your price will be less. This doesn't mean don't negotiate due dates and progress status..... this just means if you're not in a hurry your price will be lower.

Help Them Out - Scary. Ask them what and if there are any things you can do to help save some bucks. This usually amounts to de-trimming the car however some techs prefer taking things apart themselves if they are the ones going to put it together. If you offer to de-trim the car you best offer to re-trim it. This could save some bucks if you feel up to it. Again, be sure to ask first before you drive in with a stripped car.

Discuss - Be clear on what is going to be repaired, how it is going to be repaired (replace or repair?), and how long it will take. Ask if they mind you stopping by to check the progress don't just pop in. Remember they have enough deadlines with insurance companies so it would be best to not give timeline ultimatums. Discuss chemicals and brands to be used. Trust your body mans recommendations. They make their living doing this and they have learned by trial and error. If you throw a new paint brand on them because it saves you 20 bucks you may become one of the "errors". Let them shoot what they like, your job will be better.

Understand - something very clearly. A body shop will paint a fender or door and stop short with a chip one inch away on the hood if you have negotiated for a door and fender repair. Well you figured they would fix that too since it was so close. Well you figured wrong. The cost to operate a business are "by the hour" and the rates are also "by the hour". Every task takes time. A professional shop is not going to give away freebies or use up extra chemicals unless you're related to them and then they still may not. Calculate what you want done and expect to pay for it. And even then have some "margin of error". Many times damages are not found until parts of the vehicle are torn down. This is "concealed damage" and the shop isn't going to pay for your parts. Plan on the unexpected.

Deductible - I can't tell you how many times I have heard "Can you save my deductible?" Let me translate "I was being real cheap and save 10 bucks a year by having a high deductible and now I have wrecked my car will you pick up the slack for my screw up cuz' I don't have the extra 500 bucks?"

Folks it only cost a few dollars a year to have a zero deductible, a few bucks for glass coverage and rental car coverage. Get these things and your life will go easier. No one is going to give you $250 - $500 or $1000 worth of free work. It just won't happen.
So if a shop says they can fix your car and save your deductible you can bet that they are going to skimp on something to recover this amount.

Used and After market Parts - This used to anger me. You bent your fender. "I want a new fender", you say, insurance says "No, we will pay for a used fender". Finally I see their point. Your driving a 16 year old car and the fenders on it are used. As long as you get a "good" used fender then you are fine. Now after market is a different story. You can request that only "genuine" parts are used on your car to repair and no aftermarket parts. Aftermarket is when someone that didn't manufacture your car..... manufactures your replacement part. Generally there is a lot of trouble with these parts as far as fit, metal thickness, etc. Insist on genuine GM parts only. This is your right. And you are better off with a used GM fender than a new aftermarket fender.

.....more to come as I think of them

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