Yesterday I learned that you should never leave a body shop lot until you’ve check out the “repairs” done to your car after a car accident.

I picked up my dark blue/green Nissan Sentra from a body shop in Silver Spring yesterday. My car had been rear-ended at a stoplight.

After looking over the bill and lifetime ownership warranty, I went outside to check the car.

The car had been repaired seven days ahead of schedule and that made me nervous.

I checked out the car using a rule of thumb an old auctioneer once told me. “Handle the object and you’ll know if someone is trying to pass off a replica for the real thing.”

I glided my left hand along the inside and outside of the back doors, the hinges and locks on the doors and trunk. I lowered my line of sight to look along the the roof and outerbody of the car where the doors were supposed to align. I opened the trunk, which had been replaced.

There was a small puddle of water on the inside of the trunk. I sighed and walked back into the repair shop office.

When the car was again fixed I went out and checked the car again. I tried opening and closing all of the doors and rolling up and down the windows.

This time the back right door wouldn’t open. It was unlocked and wouldn’t open from the outside. I was getting tired of finding errors.

The woman at the repair shop tried to tell me the door wouldn’t open because I had the child lock on. “Then why does it open from the inside but not the outside?” I asked and demonstrated by reaching through the open front door window and opening the back door by pulling on the interior handle.

“That is odd,” she said.

“It certainly is.” I said. “Are you sure you guys didn’t cut corners to get the car done as fast as you did? I mean, I know you are a really good repair shop but what I’ve found today hasn’t exactly made me feel confident.”

She started to reply but then stopped, blushed and looked down at the paperwork in her hands. 

About 10 minutes later they called me out of the waiting room. The repairman said something about the lock to the door not coiling properly. I nodded as if I understood. At that point I just wanted to go home.

As I drove the road home I took my hands from the wheel for a couple seconds on a straight stretch of asphalt. The car drove straight. Well, at least I had that. 

The good news is the repairs are under warranty for as long as I own the car.  I guess it’s a good thing I picked a body shop near my apartment.

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