The auto body business is an interesting one. Most people think auto body technicians are the same as auto mechanics but they are not and the business of both are completely different.
These companies work with insurance companies. All the rates, labor and parts, are usually pre-set. The standard hourly rate for auto body work is marked in stone and everyone has to follow it if they want any work. The auto insurers have most collision repair businesses “by the balls” and do everything they can do nickel and dime them.
Many shops want to be honest and do a good job but are literally strong armed to work with insanly tight margins and are forced to sqeeze every dollar they can out of a job.
It is for this very reason why local auto collision repair businesses (even in Kent, WA) are motivated to cut their costs whenever they can. Some of these cost-cutting methods may include failing to align the wheels or using plastic filler (Bondo) in a dent rather than replacing the sheet metal.
Another common way to reduce a job’s expenses is failing to use the appropriate original equipment manufacturer parts on your vehicle. These parts are designed by the company who made the car and will match up perfectly. Unfortunately they are very expensive to purchase and sometimes the shipping for these parts is more expensive than the actual item.
In order to cut cost many auto body shops will use aftermarket parts because they can be 2-3 times cheaper to obtain and can be bought locally. However, this can be dangerous because aftermarket parts, no matter what anyone says, do not have the precise structural integrity as genuine OEM parts.
Who knows if these inferior parts will hold up in case of another accident down the line?
When a damaged car comes into their bay they are told exactly how much they can bill for fixing it. Lets say the parts will cost more than expected or the price for an item was is outdated. Even if the estimate is wrong and it will cost more to properly repair the body, and alignment of a car, the major insurance companies rarely budge. Crap rolls downhill and usually the consumer ends up paying.
To prevent this from happening you need to ask questions, check, and double check. I am not implying that you mistrust the auto body repair shop you bring your vehicle to but I am saying make sure everyone is staying in line and doing what they promised.