On my bus commute to work everyday I pass by an auto-body repair shop that's constantly teeming with cars. I guess it’s always good business in that line of work due to law of large numbers dictating an adequate amount of vehicle accidents (the sheer number of cars in our little 7 by 7 mile peninsula never ceases to amaze). Like a well-oil assembly factory the particular shop takes in mangled metal and repair it to original condition in at most a few week's time.
This is interesting to me because it brings me back to the last time I had a car accident and had to bring it in to a bodyshop. Thankfully that was almost a decade ago and fortune have since been kind to me in that regard. It wasn’t a particularly bad experience per se but the shop, in an effort to process as many cars a possible, definitely cut some corners in the repair. Outwardly the finished car looked fine, which is the most important part I guess? But the innards behind the repair wasn’t as lovely.
I don’t suppose people would care about such minutiae as long as the car looks good and it drives straight. Can we rightly expect perfection when pressure is on the shop to perform the repair quickly so that we can get back on the road? Most drivers rely on their vehicles to get to work so after an accident it’s difficult to be without a car for an extended period. I’m sure repair shops get phoned many times from customers inquiring about progress.
Proper auto-body repair takes significant amount of time. Just look at Youtube videos of restoration shops putting in many thousand hours on a single car to get it back to showroom condition. Videos of DIY repair guys buying a body-damaged car and taking months to fix it themselves. No matter the skill-level of the repairer the time required to perform a stellar job is massive.
Therefor I have no confidence in the typical auto-body shop "factories" where lead-time is measured in weeks and the aim is to get through as many customer cars as possible. I’ve experience with those results and while it may pass for the common driver, it’s utterly substandard for me.
Think of why a car’s value is decreased after an accident; perhaps it’s tacitly understood the typical repair job won’t be perfect and there will be residual issues during the rest of the vehicle’s useful life. Compared that to say a properly restored vintage Porsche: no one would argue its former decrepit state decreases its value absolutely and permanently.
If I am unlucky to get into a car accident in the future, I’ll take the car a shop that isn’t about chasing quantity but instead will take the appropriate time to do the job fully and correctly. It’ll likely take a few months for the repair but I can stomach that because my next car will not be a daily-driver so I can afford to let it sit.