What can I expect from my repair?
When your collision-damaged vehicle enters a Gold Class shop, highly trained professionals work toward the goal of its complete, safe and quality repair. Today’s vehicles are so complex, they require specialized knowledge in the various facets of your collision repair. While each repair is unique, a typical major repair requiring structural work flows like this.
First, an Estimator analyzes the damage to your vehicle and the repairs needed to restore your car’s function and appearance. This might include blueprinting, a systematic approach used to thoroughly analyze all the damage caused by the collision and get the most accurate estimate possible.
Your vehicle then goes to a Non-Structural Technician, who often performs repairs to it before and after the Steel Structural Technician does his or her work. A properly trained technician can repair sheet metal and plastic so that it can be difficult to find any indication of damage.
The Steel Structural Technician checks specific points of your vehicle structure against manufacturer specifications using a three-dimensional measuring system. The damaged parts are then repaired or replaced as appropriate.
After repairs are complete, the vehicle goes to a Refinish Technician for painting. The areas to be painted are sanded and primed before painting. The Refinish Technician uses a paint mixing system, a trained eye, and paint-blending techniques to match your car’s color precisely. Corrosion-protection materials are also applied to protect your vehicle.
Once painting is complete, the vehicle is reassembled. Any new glass that is needed is usually installed at this point. Depending on collision circumstances, the wheel alignment may be checked to ensure that the steering and suspension is aligned to factory specifications after the repairs.
Finally, your vehicle will be taken to the detailing area for a thorough cleaning. Any minor imperfections in the new paint surface are polished and buffed out. A final inspection is conducted before your final paperwork is prepared.
What should I do before I have my vehicle repaired?
When you take your damaged vehicle to a collision repair shop, you should ask several questions — and be satisfied with the answers — before having your car repaired:
- Are you a Gold Class™ business?
- Do you have experience working with my make and model of vehicle?
- Does your facility use three-dimensional measuring to ensure my vehicle is returned to proper specifications?
- What kind of warranty comes with the work?
You may also be tempted to ask how long the repair will take, but the answer you get from some repair shops can be inaccurate. Gold Class shops are trained to find hidden damage that others may not see. So they may be more likely to give you a more accurate estimate of the repair duration, instead of providing an overly optimistic time frame up front only to delay you more later with unanticipated repairs and parts orders.
What should I check for after my repair?
Before you take your newly repaired vehicle home, check to confirm that:
- The gaps between the body panels are consistent
- The distance from tire to fender is the same on each side
- The doors, hood and deck lid open and close smoothly
- The headlights and brake lights work and are aligned
- All electronic accessories work
- Freshly painted areas match color in a variety of lighting situations
- No warning lamps are illuminated on the dash
When you pull your vehicle out of the shop, test drive it and:
- Listen for any unusual noises
- Test the handling
- Check that the car is aligned properly and the steering wheel drives straight
- Make sure the brakes work properly
If anything is amiss, return the vehicle to the repair facility immediately and inform them of the issues you are experiencing.
Does training really matter if my shop is experienced?
Yes. Cars have become increasingly complex and technology in different makes and models changes faster than ever before. Procedures can even change significantly from one model year to the next. Current training is essential for proper, safe repairs.
What’s the difference between a Gold Class rating and other certifications?
The Gold Class designation is the industry standard for training that contributes to complete, safe and quality repairs. While other organizations offer certifications and testing, they do not require ongoing annual training, or test on content that is as frequently updated to reflect today’s makes, models and technologies. Ongoing training and testing keeps repair technicians up-to-date on the latest vehicle models, technologies and repair methods. Gold Class is not a certification that lasts a certain number of years. It’s a designation indicating that a shop undergoes ongoing, up-to-date training every year. Shops that lapse in their training, even for a year, lose their Gold Class designation.
Is training all that matters for safety?
No. Training is just one of several main contributors to safe repairs. Also necessary are the proper infrastructure, access to vehicle maker repair procedures, and the right tools and equipment. Gold Class businesses have up-to-date knowledge on the infrastructure, tools and equipment needed to perform complete, safe and quality repairs. But equipment and infrastructure verification is not currently a requirement for the Gold Class designation.
Do Gold Class shops provide a better experience for customers?
When you choose a Gold Class shop, you’re choosing trained repair professionals. That can contribute to a positive repair experience, as well as contributing to a safe repair. A May 2013 analysis of more than 18,000 collision repair shops by automotive information provider CynCast also found that Gold Class businesses outperformed other body shops by 47% in CynCast’s Shop Performance Value Rating. The rating measures shop performance using important metrics such as how soon on average customers get their cars back, the accurate of the initial estimate, and customer satisfaction.