Click below to listen to our Consumerpedia podcast episode on how to find a top auto body shop.

While most of the customers we surveyed rated their auto body shops high for service quality, some didn’t fare as well as others. Some of the shops evaluated in our Ratings Tables were rated “superior” for “overall quality” by more than 95 percent of their surveyed customers, while others were rated “superior” by fewer than 65 percent of their surveyed customers.

The best body shops not only do great work but employ staff who can explain and justify exactly what needs to be done. If you will be dealing with an insurance company, an articulate representative at the body shop will be the key to getting all the work you need performed and paid for.

If there is even a possibility of serious damage to your car, take it to a shop that rates high for quality, and have the insurer send its estimator there. That shop will provide a better evaluation of the damage than an insurance company drive-in appraisal center, and will then serve as your advocate in dealings with the insurance company.

Since most repairs are paid for by insurance companies, most customers consider price less important than quality. The consumer is usually concerned only that the prices are acceptable to the insurer. If the customer is paying for the work, however, price is an important consideration—and we found big shop-to-shop price differences.

Fortunately, we found no relationship between price and customer satisfaction. Shops that quoted the lowest prices to Checkbook’s undercover shoppers actually scored better on customer survey questions than shops that quoted high prices. The price comparison scores reported on our Ratings Tables will help you identify shops that provide the most bang for the buck.

Check your car thoroughly before taking it home from the shop. Look and feel whether repaired surfaces are smooth and paint has the proper gloss and color. Take a test drive if the damage was substantial. The car should function as it did before the accident.