5 Common Auto Body Repair Scams
Watch Out for These Scams from Less-than-Reputable Shops
Here at Big Sky Collision, our goal is to be the number one auto body repair shop in the country. That means letting you know what to watch out for when it comes to getting your vehicle fixed.
We have put together a list of the top 5 most common auto body repair scams so you know what to look out for. Don’t get sucked in by an auto body shop that promises low rates, or to “work with you” on your deductible. These are some issues you might come across if you do.
The Dirty or Broken Part
This scam is usually found with a mechanic than with auto body repairs, but it’s still important to watch out for. You’re in the waiting room, and a technician comes out with a blackened part (often an air filter). He or she gives you a story on how dangerous this is, and how you could have blown your engine, and it should be replaced right away.
The scam: the air filter is likely one they keep in the back to show customers. Your air filter may be fine, and even if it needs replaced, they are usually easy to swap and cost less than $20. Your bill may be considerably higher with this extra service.
Swapping OEM with Aftermarket
When you have your vehicle fixed, you want to make sure the auto body repair shop uses OEM (original manufacturer equipment) parts. These are the ones made by the manufacturer for your specific vehicle. They are more expensive, but they are higher quality. Aftermarket parts don’t have the same stamp of quality on them, and while some may be just as good, many are not.
The scam: The auto body shop puts on the invoice that they used OEM parts, but when the work was being done, they put in aftermarket parts. They either pocket the difference, or they “waive your deductible.” Either way it’s illegal, and it’s not safe for you the driver.
Failing to Reset the Air Bag
Airbags are expensive to reset. The parts are expensive, it’s labor intensive, and they require special training to do it right. Any reputable collision repair shop will be able to do it without problems, but there are some to watch out for.
The scam: The invoice shows that the airbag was reset or replaced. But if you were to open up the compartment, there’s not much in there. There have been shops busted for putting in newspaper or packing peanuts instead. You (or your insurance) paid for airbag replacement; you got peanuts.
It Was Like that when it came in
Vehicles can be lightly damaged, or heavily damaged in an accident. They can be damaged while being towed or driven to the repair shop. They can even be accidentally damaged once there. All of these things should be disclosed because accidents happen. Sometimes, however, a dishonest auto body shop will fudge things a bit.
The scam: When you bring your vehicle in, you are given an estimate on the damages. A bad repair shop may look at an area near the damage, and inflict damage of their own (often “discovered” after the initial estimate). The result is they get more hours and more pay, and you (or your insurance) is left footing the bill.
Bait and Switch
It’s important to get a written estimate when you take your vehicle in for auto body repairs. It’s a good protection for you, and for the shop doing the repairs. Some shops, however, aren’t as thorough and instead of a written estimate, you get a verbal one. Maybe they don’t want to take the time to write it out, or maybe they have more nefarious intentions.
The scam: You are told one price for the repairs on your vehicle, but when it comes time to fix it, the costs go up and up. The shop claims they disclosed it all up front, and without the written estimate, it is your word against theirs. Get it in writing, protect yourself.
Big Sky Collision Center has Uncompromising Integrity
Our goal of being the best auto body repair shop in Billings, in Montana, in the USA isn’t accomplished by swindling, backhanding, fudging, or doing shady deals. We do the right thing, every time, because that’s what is expected of an auto body repair shop.