If you are like most people, you might be scratching your head at the title of this article. Most people seem to think that an auto repair shop and an auto body shop are one and the same. Of course, this assumption is not correct, and we are going to explain why it is not correct. It’s always embarrassing when you walk into the wrong kind of shop asking about the wrong kind of job, so let’s get started.
What Is An Auto Repair Shop And What Do They Do?
An auto repair shop concentrates on generalized auto repairs. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but it might surprise you to find out that there are certain jobs they will not do. At an auto repair shop, you can get all sorts of general repairs done, but they might not be equipped for bodywork and certain other jobs.
The basic job of an auto repair shop is to get you back on the road as soon as possible. As such, they don’t focus on cosmetic matters like the body, the paint job, etc. They might be able to work on these things, but there is no guarantee. Rather, they are concerned with the mechanical aspects of your vehicle.
- Here are some of the jobs that you might bring to an auto repair shop:
- Brake system repair
- Broken/burned-out headlights or tail lights
- Replacement of a spare tire
- Replacing a water pump
- Replacing a fuel pump
- Engine work
- Cooling system repair
- An oil change
What Is An Auto Body Shop And What Do They Do?
Technically, the people at an auto body shop are also mechanics, but they specialize in a different side of the profession. As the name implies, a body shop is a little more concerned with the body of the vehicle. As such, they are the best people to call when you have suffered damage to the body or frame of a vehicle.
While a mechanic focuses on getting your car back on the road, a body shop focuses on making it look and drive like new. They usually don’t repair things like engines or radiators, as this is outside their area of expertise. However, their skills are not limited to cosmetic matters.
Any damage that compromises the structural integrity of your vehicle should be taken to a body shop. For instance, if your frame is twisted out of shape as a result of a collision, a body shop will be the natural destination for your car. These people can rebuild a car from the ground up, while many mechanics spend most of their days switching out various parts.
Here are some of the jobs that you might bring to an auto body shop:
- Vehicle repainting
- Repair of dents and dings
- Replacement/repair of fenders or bumpers
- Repair of crushed body panels
- Replacement of windows or the windshield
- Anything that involves damage to the vehicular frame
- Replacing a smashed-in front grille
- Interior detailing work
Are There Shops That Do Both?
Because these are two different flavors of the same profession, you might be wondering if there are shops that offer both general auto repair and auto body repair. The answer is yes, but the amount of crossover will vary considerably.
Most auto body shops will also have people that can replace a part or recalibrate a sensor. Minor jobs like that do not require the services of a specialist, so it might not be a bad idea to get everything done at the same place. However, this may or may not work out to your advantage.
In many cases, shops will charge more money if they are made to go outside of their “comfort zone.” So, a general auto repair shop might agree to do some bodywork for you, but they are also likely to charge you more money. And so, if you choose to get everything done under one roof, make sure to choose a business that is equally focused on both fields of auto repair.
Recognizing Your Problem
To recap what we have learned so far: Auto body shops and auto repair shops are two different types of mechanics who specialize in different jobs. Thus, it would seem like a simple matter to choose the right one. However, you still have one big issue to address: Diagnosing the problem accurately.
You might want to invest in a diagnostic tool (also known as a code reader), as it can usually identify your vehicle’s problem in a quick and easy manner. You just plug it into the port underneath the steering wheel (some cars may have a different port location), and it will display a series of alpha-numeric codes. By looking up these codes, you can probably find out what is wrong with your vehicle.
If that doesn’t work for you, you’ll need to do it the old-fashioned way. You may not know the problem, but you know what your vehicle is doing. So, using the internet, you should look up the symptoms that your car is experiencing. This will give you a much better idea as to the cause of the problem.
For instance, if you have a wobbly front wheel, there are several problems that might be the cause. If you’re lucky, it will just be a worn-out wheel bearing (fairly easy to replace). If you’re unlucky, you might have to replace the whole transaxle and maybe even some of its connected parts. Since the transaxle connects to the transmission, that can turn into a very expensive job.
On the other hand, if your car isn’t driving straight after an accident, you could have damage to the frame itself. If that is the case, you definitely need to take it to an auto body shop. Still, you should research any other warning signs that you see, because there are other problems that can affect the ability of a vehicle to drive straight.
As you can see, this was a fairly simple question to answer. We are just talking about two sides of the same coin, as both types of repair shops have the same goal in the end: To provide good repair and good service. At the same time, you have to know what is wrong with your car before you can choose the right shop. We hope that this article has given you a better understanding of the subject, and we also hope that you will fill out the contact form located on the right.