What to Do if Your Car Isn’t Fixed Properly After an Insurance Claim

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mechanic working on car

Getting your car back from the repair shop after an auto insurance claim can be exciting — you’re back on the road! But if you notice anything unusual — like a strange noise or your steering wheel feels off — it could be a sign that the repair shop didn’t fix your vehicle properly.

If you find yourself in this situation, you can do several things, including detailing your findings and discussing the issue with the body shop. This article outlines the steps to take if you believe the body shop didn’t repair your car correctly and when it might be time to shop around for a new company.

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What to Do If You Suspect Your Car Wasn’t Fixed Properly

repair technician fixing a car

Taking photos of your car before, during, and after the repair process can provide visual proof of its original condition and any post-accident damage. Plus, it can help if you have to dispute the repairs once you get it back.

If you suspect the repair shop didn’t complete your vehicle repairs correctly, take the following steps.

Keep detailed records

Before you take your car in for repairs, take pictures of the damage. You can use these photos to inspect your vehicle after you get it back from the auto body shop. It’s also a good idea to take pictures or a video after it’s repaired, especially of areas where you suspect the shop didn’t fix the damage properly.

Also, keep track of all communications with the claims adjuster during the claims process and any interactions you’ve had with the repair shop. Hold onto receipts for anything you’ve paid for, including your policy deductible (if you had to pay one).

Discuss the issue with the repair shop

Now that you suspect a problem and have detailed records to back it up, it’s time to discuss the issue with the repair shop that did the work. Ask to speak with management and point out the issues you’ve found with the car and your concerns. If necessary, provide the photos and video as proof of the vehicle’s condition before the repairs.

Be calm but firm during the discussion. The car insurance company paid the shop to restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition, and it’s in the shop’s best interest to work with you to do so. This is especially the case if it’s part of the insurance company’s body shop repair network.

Ask for a post-repair inspection

When speaking to the shop’s management, ask for a free post-repair inspection to verify that the shop has fixed the damage correctly. Unfortunately, the repair shop may disagree with you after checking their work.

If the shop insists it did the repairs correctly but you still suspect something’s wrong, you can get a second opinion from another repair shop or use your state’s Bureau of Automotive Repair to find a reputable body shop that will perform an independent inspection.

Call your insurance company

If the shop won’t fix the problem or insists there isn’t one, the next step is to involve your insurer by contacting the insurance adjuster you worked with for your auto claim. Since the insurance company paid for the repair costs, the adjuster will have more leverage with the shop to reach a satisfactory agreement on fixing your vehicle’s issues.

Your insurer can also help you get a third-party opinion and post-repair inspection if necessary.

File a formal complaint

If the original repair shop refuses to fix its error or you don’t see eye to eye with your insurance company, you might have to file a complaint. The options for filing a formal complaint can vary by state and who you’re filing it against.

For example, if you’re filing against the mechanic or auto repair shop, check your state’s  Bureau of Automotive Repairs or licensing board. You can file a complaint against the insurance company through the Department of Insurance.

Another option is discussing your rights with a car accident attorney licensed in your state. You can usually get a free consultation to discuss the situation, get expert advice, and figure out the best way forward, which may include filing a court complaint against the insurer or the repair shop to recoup repair money or to get your car fixed properly.

Shop around for a new insurance company

If you don’t like how your car insurance company handled your car insurance claim or your policy renewal shows a rate increase after the accident, it may be time to switch insurance companies.

By comparing quotes from multiple insurers, you can see if you’re getting the best deal on your auto coverage or if another company might offer you a better rate. Switching insurers is easy and can help you save money without sacrificing coverage.

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Signs Your Vehicle Wasn’t Properly Repaired

cars in a repair shop

You may be able to tell if a repair shop didn’t do your car repairs properly if you know what to look for. That’s why it’s a good idea to do a self-inspection immediately after the repair shop finishes your car repairs.

Here are some signs of a poorly repaired vehicle:

  • You hear unusual noises, such as squeaks, rattles, clunks, or vibrations you didn’t notice before the damage.
  • The steering wheel pulls to one side, indicating a potential wheel misalignment.
  • Dead or flickering lights can mean an issue with the electrical system.
  • The check-engine light comes on, which could mean a minor or major safety concern.
  • The repair shop uses aftermarket parts instead of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, which may cause compatibility issues (some auto policies may require only OEM parts for vehicle repairs).

Try to inspect your car right after it’s repaired to catch issues that your insurance company or repair shop needs to address. The longer it takes you to uncover any issues, the less likely the insurer or shop will believe they’re related to the repair work. For instance, the repair shop might say your issue comes from normal vehicle wear and tear or lack of maintenance if you wait to address your concerns.

Be sure to inspect every damaged part. Look for defects in the paint, such as dents, dings, mismatched color blending, or rough paint. If the accident caused structural damage, open the doors and windows to check for leaks or seams that don’t line up. If the accident caused engine damage, park your car in a dry spot overnight or put cardboard under the engine to check for leaks the following day.

How to Choose a Repair Shop to Fix Your Car

cars in a body shop

You can choose any repair shop to fix your car, whether from your own trusted mechanic or your insurer’s list of reputable auto repair shops. Whatever you choose, research the shop beforehand. Choosing the right shop can increase your chances of getting high-quality repairs and may lessen the likelihood of you having to return with repair issues.

Consider asking friends and family for shop recommendations. You can check for complaints with your local consumer protection agency or your state’s Attorney General’s office. The shop should also display certifications, like the seal of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

If you go with a shop from your insurer’s network, you’ll typically get your car back faster, with less paperwork — you may even be eligible for a lower deductible. Repair shops usually guarantee repair work as long as you own your car. If you choose your own repair shop, you might have to pay your deductible up front and wait longer to get your car back.

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FAQs About Bad Car Repair After an Insurance Claim

Poor repair work after an insurance claim can be frustrating, but knowing your rights and options can help avoid bad car repairs. We answered the most common questions to make the process easier.

Can you sue an auto insurance company for a bad repair job after an accident?

Yes, you can sue the insurance company if you feel it didn’t act in your best interest to ensure the repair shop repaired your vehicle to its pre-accident condition. But it’s best to speak with an experienced accident attorney for legal advice to decide the best course of action.

What happens if your car can’t be fixed after an accident?

If your vehicle is beyond repair after an auto accident, your insurance company will consider it totaled. Instead of fixing it, the insurer will pay you the value of your car minus your deductible (if one applies).

How long should your car be in the body shop?

It depends. How long your car will be in the body shop for repairs depends on the extent of the damage and how long it takes to get replacement parts. Your insurance adjuster and the repair shop should give you a time estimate, which may change if issues arise, such as parts being on backorder.

Can you keep the money from an insurance claim instead of fixing your car?

Yes. You can keep the money from an insurance claim without fixing your car — if you own the vehicle and the insurer hasn’t paid the mechanic or body shop for repairs directly. But your insurer might remove comprehensive and collision coverage or deny a future claim.

It’s important to read and understand your policy to know your rights to keep an insurance check.

Can you choose your own repair shop after a car accident?

Yes, you can use any repair shop to repair your vehicle after a car accident. If you choose from the insurance company’s list of recommended body shops, you’ll usually get a lifetime guarantee on auto body repairs for as long as you own your car.


  1. Federal Trade Commission, “Auto Repair Basics,” Accessed March 22, 2024.
  2. Insurance Information Institute, “FAQs about direct repair programs and generic auto parts,” Accessed March 22, 2024.
  3. National Association of Insurance Commissioners, “How to File a Complaint and Research Complaints Against Insurance Carriers,” Accessed March 22, 2024.

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