Basic driver’s education may help a person learn how to drive, but it does not always teach everything you need to know about your car. If you are a new car owner, collision repair is one such thing you need to learn more about. You’ll never know when you will get into a car accident, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared.

Below are the most common things a new car owner should know when it comes to collision repair.

1. Consider OEM parts.

Aftermarket parts are generally cheaper than original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, but don’t let those low prices keep you from making an informed decision. Most insurance companies will let you purchase an OEM endorsement, which allows OEM parts to be used on your vehicle only in the event of collision repair.

Remember: OEM parts are of higher quality since they are made for your car, and your insurance company should be able to provide them. Such parts allow for a better fit and smaller gaps between panels. Only choose aftermarket parts if you’re paying out of pocket and cost is a major concern.

2. You are free to choose the auto body shop you want.

While your insurance company no doubt has a preference, you have the final say when it comes to who repairs your car. There’s no law requiring you to only follow the advice of your insurance company. They cannot require you to go to a certain shop for collision repair.

In fact, it’s illegal for insurers to require repairs be made only at a certain shop, or suggest a customer go elsewhere once they’ve selected a shop. Insurance Code 758.5 states certain conditions that are the exception to this ruling.

3. Shop estimates can vary depending on the appraiser’s skill.

Top 5 Things New Car Owners Need to Know About Collision RepairA skilled appraiser should be able to properly identify the damage caused by a collision, and give an estimate that is very close to the final repair cost. Some repairs will not be evident until work has started, so when possible, choose a professional with an expert eye.

Remember that your vehicle may have damage that isn’t visible at the time of inspection, which may also turn out to be quite significant as to cause the estimate to dramatically increase.

4. Reputation is important.

Reputation plays a crucial role when selecting a collision repair shop. Be sure to do your research before settling on an automotive repair shop. The internet is an excellent resource for you to learn what customers really think about a certain business. This will help you decide if they are a good fit for your repair needs.

5. Frame damage doesn’t always mean your car is totaled.

Most people assume that if the frame of your car is damaged, you won’t be able to restore it to its original state. Depending on how severe the damage is, that’s not always true. With modern collision repair techniques, frame measuring, and repair equipment, unibody and frame vehicles can now be restored to factory specifications.

Choosing a Reputable Collision Repair Shop

Unfortunately, accidents happen every day and there’s no way to predict when you’ll be in one. You can, however, equip yourself with information that can help you in case you get yourself in a situation that requires collision repair.

When looking for the right collision repair shop, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out if the technicians in your chosen auto body shop are certified with the brand of your vehicle. You can also try to ask how often the technicians train to know if they can do the work correctly the first time.

Knowing that your body shop is up-to-date on training provides you with an added assurance once you drop your car off at their facility.