Getting Your Car Painted by: Len Henry
Saturday, 17 February 2001 08:00

Getting Your Car Painted
by: Len Henry

The vast majority of body shops make most of their money repairing accident vehicles for customers that don't even notice all the sanding marks in the new paint or the fact that the paint on the door and front fender are not exactly the same colour as the rest of the car.  These shops specialize in getting the vehicles out the door of the shop as fast as possible.  Both the customer and the insurance companies want the vehicles back on the road quickly, even if the paint isn't completely dry.  These shops could do better quality work but most drivers can't tell the difference, well not for the first few months, and the insurance companies pressure the shops into low cost repairs so they can pay the least amount of labour and install the cheapest replacement parts for every repair.

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What needs to happen is a paradigm shift when you bring your car into a shop.  The body-shop workers need to do first class work because you are not the average customer and you are willing to pay a little extra for this kind of quality.  Not only must the owner of the shop who gives you the estimate realize you want better quality work, but all the body prep people working in the shop and the painter must be made aware of this fact.

You should look around for these high-quality body shops that specialize in painting high-class automobiles and high-performance vehicles by checking the Yellow pages, asking people with antique and classic cars, and by asking the shops for references.  Once you have gotten several quotes, you need to ask some questions and take a tour of each garage.

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You need to ask the same questions at every shop you visit.  Will they remove the door handles, lock cylinders, side marker lights, tail lights, front grill, mirrors, body side mouldings, antennae or will they just tape over them when they paint the car?  Removing all these parts makes for a much better quality paint job but adds to the labour costs.   How many coats of paint and clear will be applied, more is better in this case.  How many hours of sanding will the shop do to get the body ready for painting, again, more is better.  How will they repair any rust, adding plastic filler to the hole or by adding metal to the rusted area.

Price alone shouldn't be the deciding factor when choosing a body shop.  You only get what you pay for in the automotive repair business and this is especially true in the auto body repair industry.  The lowest estimate may not get you the quality work you are looking for.  Paying $1000 for a repaint job that is bad is just a waste of money.

Once you have decided on a shop, you want the shop to give you a written estimate that includes the price, exactly what work will be done and the length of time they will guarantee their work.

Lastly, changing the colour of your car greatly increases the labour time and reduces the chance of a perfect paint job.  It is very difficult to spray under the engine and trunk lids, around the door and door frames, and all of the hinges without leaving a trace of the old colour.

 
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