Crunched cars meet supply-chain crunch: Auto body shops grapple with shortages, delays

The pandemic is complicating the process of getting your banged-up car looking new again.

“The biggest complaints we get about body shops are delays and shoddy workmanship,” said Kevin Brasler with Consumers’ Checkbook, “and these days the delays are severe.”

A major issue is parts shortages because of ongoing supply chain crunches.

Brasler says it’s important to get a cost estimate, as always.

“But it’s almost equally important these days to get a time estimate, because some shops seem to be doing better than others at getting cars fixed quickly, as opposed to months upon months of delays.”

He added, “These days a lot of shops, in order to cut down on the time because of these big delays, are either seeking aftermarket parts or seeking used parts.”

Those parts can be fine if the shop can reassure you that their quality is on par with factory originals, Brasler said.

Even aside from shortages and delays, drivers seeking out body repairs have their work cut out for them.

“A lot of shops, they do great work for their customers, but we found that many shops have high, high percentages of unsatisfied customers,” Brasler said. He also said there are huge differences in quality and price from shop to shop in the D.C. area.

Additionally, if a claim is going through your insurance or through another person’s, “make sure you take the car to a shop of your choosing, because you’re going to likely need that shop in your corner to argue to the insurer about getting the repairs made well,” he advised.

And don’t think that a trip to the dealer is a silver bullet.

“Overall, new car dealers rated considerably lower than independents,” in addition to being considerably more expensive, he said.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP.

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