Repair Questions



Shouldn't I go back to my dealer? That's where I bought my car.

Your dealer may not be your best choice for collision repair. Many of the highest-quality facilities in the area aren't affiliated with dealers. Your dealer generally has no unique edge in terms of technology, techniques, or parts availability when it comes to repairing your vehicle after a collision.

Not all dealers are bad, by any means, but some tend to emphasize numbers above quality. Quality control and personal attention can sometimes be difficult for the dealer shop.

Rather than automatically returning to your dealer for collision repairs, we encourage you to be a careful shopper when selecting a repair facility. Ask your friends, neighbors, and relatives about the experiences they have had with collision repair, and select the shop you think will provide the highest quality result.

Is it hard to match my paint?

Yes, it might be, but a high-quality repair facility will take the steps necessary to ensure your satisfaction with the match. Here's how paint-matching works, in a nutshell:

Your vehicle carries a paint code, frequently on a label or plate under the hood, in a door jamb, or in the trunk. This manufacturer's code specifically identifies the color of your car. Paint manufacturers have devised paint-mixing formulae that are used by the repair shop to mix paint which matches the manufacturer's code. (Be skeptical if a repair shop doesn't mix their paints in-store.) This can work just fine if your vehicle is precisely the color specified by the paint code. In actual vehicle production, there is variability within many paint codes, frequently from paint lot to paint lot, or between factories.

If your vehicle isn't exactly the color specified by the factory, the first step in paint-matching is tinting, varying the relative amounts of the components in the formula. Frequently this gives excellent results.

Sometimes, a perfect match can't be obtained by tinting alone. In these cases, blending techniques are used with the best tinted color. The last little bit of variance is made invisible to the human eye by painting portions of the vehicle adjacent to the repaired areas so the color changes unnoticeably. This can make the difference between a very good match and a completely invisible repair.

Proper paint-matching requires a high level of skill and sometimes a great deal of patience. Be sure you select a repair facility that will take the time to produce a match in the perfect range and will not be satisfied with merely good results.

Will you use "putty" to repair my vehicle?

Maybe, but modern plastic filler is a much different product than "bondo" from years back. It is a durable medium that's great for finish and feather-edging work. A quality repair facility won't use filler until the underlying metal is properly repaired. Twenty years ago, putty earned a bad reputation because it didn't provide long-lasting repairs. Chemistry has changed a lot since then.

Modern (high-quality) filler is very stable. It doesn't shrink or crack and is a great sub-strata for primers and paint finishes. Used appropriately, it is part of many high-quality repairs.

My insurance estimate lists Quality Replacement Parts (or rechromed parts or remanufactured parts or recycled parts or used parts). Are they as good as new factory parts?

We all want a cost-effective repair. The insurance company would prefer to repair the car for less money rather than more money. The repair shop and the vehicle owner don't want to waste the insurance company's money because it will drive premiums up. If a high-quality repair can be done for less money, everyone is better off.

Given that, high-quality shops won't do anything to make the vehicle owner, their customer, worse off merely to save the insurance company money. If the "other" part is inferior in any way, your repair shop should compel the insurance company to use the original manufacturer's part. In the end, the vehicle must be in the same condition it was before the accident occurred. Any other result is unacceptable.

Your estimate is higher than the one the insurance company wrote. Will I have to pay the difference if I want to bring my car to you for repair?

No, not normally. The insurance company is obligated to return your vehicle to its pre-accident condition, and they are generally willing to pay for a correct repair. The way modern vehicles are constructed, it's often difficult to see all the damage on their first inspection. Insurance company adjusters typically include only visible damage in their estimates. Suspected, even strongly suspected, damage is normally omitted.

When your vehicle is disassembled for repair, additional damage is frequently discovered. A good-quality repair shop needs to point out this additional damage to the insurance company and make arrangements for the company to pay for the additional repairs required.

It's just this simple - your repair shop has an obligation to you to make your vehicle every bit as nice as it was before the collision occurred. They have an obligation to themselves to compel the insurance company to pay them properly for necessary repairs. Your repair shop needs to be willing to handle all the negotiations required to make this happen.

You are responsible for your deductible, if you have one, payable to the repair shop at the completion of repairs. The insurance company is responsible for all repair expenses above your deductible. It costs you no more to choose the repair facility that provides the highest quality repairs.

Can you save me (some of) my deductible?

An honest repair shop will always say "no." Here's why:

Your insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance carrier. It basically says that if you have a collision loss, you are responsible for the first portion of repairs (your deductible) and the insurance company will pay all the rest. If we do fewer repairs than agreed with the insurance company, you're still responsible for the initial amount, your deductible. Any reduction should correctly go back to the insurance company.

There are legitimate ways to reduce your cost, like appearance allowances. Consult your insurance company.

Be wary of the repair shop that offers to save you your deductible. There must be a reason they are willing to involve themselves in violating your insurance contract. Consider what their reason(s) might be.

The insurance company wants to give me a check to repair my vehicle. Should I take it?

Sure. The insurance company is responsible for restoring your vehicle to its pre-accident condition. If there is additional damage, a good-quality repair shop should be able to negotiate for additional compensation. You surrender none of your rights by accepting a preliminary payment.

Do you have loaners?

A high-quality shop will say "no" and then offer to arrange a convenient rental vehicle if you require one.

It costs $20-30 a day to provide a loaner, considering the cost of the vehicle and necessary insurance. If the repair shop can absorb this cost, they have to recover it somewhere. Are they cutting corners on your repair, charging for work not performed?.... Beware the free loaner. Many of our customers find it convenient to rent a vehicle while repairs are in progress, and frequently that is covered by insurance.

Will you paint my refrigerator (or kitchen door or electric guitar?)

No, at least at Fine Lines and most high-quality repair shops.

Fine Lines has offered information and opinion on this page. We have acquired experience based on our daily contact with insurance companies, but do not rely on this information as legal advice. If you require legal advice, please consult your attorney