Should I go with the body repair shops that want to replace my roof or the one who wants to try and repair it?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

I sent my 1997 Grand Voyager to a service center for a $40 oil and filter
change. They later phoned me up to advise me that my vehicle was ready, and
that there had been an "incident" whereby a dent had been put in my roof.
This was supposedly due to a malfunction in one of their lifts. In any
case, they nobly accepted full responsibility and suggested I go to a
particular body shop to get an estimate. When I returned with an estimate
for $2,200, the manager appeared to suffer some sort of anxiety attack.
What happened next is that I got three independent estimates. Two came in
around $2,200. They both assumed the roof was irreparable and would need to
be replaced, along with the windshield, which would be broken when the roof
was removed. The third estimate was much cheaper -- about $900.

The seemingly honest gentleman who gave it to me said that if it were his
vehicle, he would do everything possible NOT to replace the roof, since
this would require breaking the factory seals, and in any case, in his
opinion, the roof could be repaired. I asked him why other shops had
insisted upon replacing the roof, and he replied that it was easier work to
replace it, and the shop made more money. What should I do? -- Peter

TOM: I agree with Mr. Cheapo.

RAY: Me, too. Roofs do get replaced, but it's a fairly drastic procedure.
Welds have to be broken at all of the posts and then reconnected. It's
major surgery. And it's possible that you'd end up with high-speed whistles
or leaks that you don't have now. So I would avoid removing the roof if you
possibly can.

TOM: Besides, this is a minivan, and all of the damage is on the roof.
Assuming your job description is not "Power Forward," when are you ever
going to see it?

RAY: Right. I'm sure this guy will do a decent job and make sure the finish
is sealed and the roof won't rust. And even if it's not absolutely
"brand-new" looking, you'll only see it from second-floor windows, so it's
not likely to bother you.

TOM: And when you're ready to sell it, just remember not to run your ad in
Basketball Weekly, and you'll be all set, Peter.

Don't let your car grow old before its time! Order Tom and Ray's pamphlet,
"Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!" Send $3 and
a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Ruin, PO Box 6420,
Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.

Copyright (C) 1999 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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