Is your body shop certified for your particular brand of car?
Before we get to the list, let me give you a little background on why every car owner who is shopping for a body shop needs to read this.
Ten years ago it probably didn’t matter where you took your car to get fixed as long as the shop did quality work, had a good reputation, and treated you right. Today, you as a car owner, need to be diligent in finding a shop who can actually fix your car the way the manufacturer wants it done.
The construction methods that the manufacturers use have changed so drastically, and the materials they are using have made a huge impact in the collision repair industry, one that has even forced auto body shops out of business.
Car makers (OEM) are under such pressure from the government and from consumers to make cars stronger, safer and with increasing MPG ranges, engineers have sought out exotic metals such as ultra high strength steel, aluminum and carbon fiber.
The new BWM I3 is made largely out of Carbon fiber, once the stuff of million-dollar super cars, and you can buy one for about $41,000 at a dealership near you soon.
Audi, Jaguar, BMW and a few others are using aluminum in their cars right now, and more manufacturers are looking into its use.
All of these new materials and construction practices require very precise, and very specific repair procedures. Many even need very specific tooling that your local shop might not even have.
The investment in equipment and training is staggering for a body shop that is already struggling to make a decent profit due to other circumstances that we have covered in other blogs. You can’t just pull and hammer a car back into shape anymore. In fact, in some cases you cant even weld them in order to create a repair that the manufacturer would approve.
The problem is; you actually can weld this stuff back together, it just won’t be correct, and could even be dangerous. Heat can affect come materials and make them brittle. Manufacturers may require riveting or bonding of some structural components and body shops might not even know that.
Repairing an aluminum body after a collision requires the use of a “clean room” where the repairs are not contaminated by work being done to steel cars, or with tools used to repair steel cars. The two metals do not mix well together and cause corrosion. Not many auto body shops have a separate building just to fix aluminum cars.
Because of these advancements, auto manufacturers are pushing for body shops to become factory certified as a matter of public safety as well as ensuring that the best parts are getting put back into your car.
Why Consider OEM certified auto body shops for your collision repair?
1. The OEM certification Programs are thorough:
The certification programs come in a range of complexity from a simple “Pay a fee and buy our parts, and you are certified” to more stringent programs such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz where equipment and on site training are required.
In some cases, the industry standard certification and training body I-CAR Gold can qualify a shop that has completed coursework.
2. OEM training is expensive
The average cost of a four-day factory certification can cost a shop upwards of $10-20,000 and some training programs last two weeks, so those technicians aren’t even in the building to work on customer cars. If a shop is dedicated enough to get their technician’s factory certified, you can bet that this is a shop which does not cut corners.
3. Specialized Tools
Specialized tools often are required to become a certified facility as well as being necessary to fix your car. Therefore, the shop as well as the employees must pass certain criteria. Some of this tooling can cost a shop over $250,000 or more. Different cars require special jigging in order to replace parts such as frame rails, where tolerances have to be exact. If your shop doesn’t have these, they are likely going to rig something up to get the job done, but minus the precision from the specialized tooling.
4. OEM Training can require on-site visits from the Manufacturer.
Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Fiat have a rigorous certification program that requires an on-site, in-depth inspection. What better way to know that the manufacturer approves of the shop you have chosen then to know that site visits were required for certification?
5. OEM certification requires re-certification.
Shops must stay up to date, and must apply for recertification. When you are searching a shop online, check with them to see if they are STILL certified for your manufacturer. Just because they were when they built the website, does not guarantee that they still are today. The same goes for the certifications hanging on the wall. Do your due diligence and double check.
To make your job easier in checking for certifications for your car and your preferred shop, I have included a list of manufacturer certification links here. Some have a finder tool to locate a certified shop, others just have info on the program or a dealer locator.
Also, our site, Autobody-review has a very handy certifications feature. We have a special tab on the shop profile which shows all the certifications each shop has whether it is a manufacturer certification, or a general I-car training certification.
Here is a screen shot of how to find that.
You can also search for shops and reviews by vehicle type on our site using this handy tool here:
So if you are here right now because you are looking for an auto body shop, don’t assume that every shop can fix every brand of car properly. Most people just worry about the quality of the work, the paint, the turn around time and the communication. But now an extra important step you need to do is consider whether the shop has the correct certifications.
Here is the additional list of manufacturer OEM certifications: (note not all manufacturers have an OEM certified body shop locator tool).
Honda ProFirst shop locator site:
Couldn’t find a shop locator but the certification program is here.
But it does not give you a locator, just says to contact Jaguar.
Toyota: Only the dealer locator
Lexus collision shop locator
only has a dealer locator
Landrover- Only a dealer locator