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SF Bay Area body shop recommendations?


I am in dire need of a very reputable body shop, ideally in the south bay (San Jose area) to try to correct damage done to my car at my local independent repair shop (whom I used to trust a lot )...

I am still sooooooooo angry I almost cannot speak about it... I am pounding on my keyboard right now...

The shop had my car for almost 4 days, doing some much needed maintanance (oil change, valve cover gaskets, oil level sensor, pan gasket, transmission shift linkage cross shaft seal, trans fluid cooler hose up front, plugs/wires etc...

When I drove her home, in my garage, I noticed scratches to the trunk lid, and scratches and touch up paint on pass rear door cladding, and light scratches to passenger front door, and they broke the pass side sun visor clip!!! I know two of their mechanics well, but sadly they had their "newer guy" who has worked there for 2 years working on my car - with some help from the others...

The owner spoke to his mechanics and said they said "the damage was there", but I took the car to wand wash before bringing it to their shop, and I swear on my mothers grave this damage is new!!! I am furious - I think I mentioned this already..... I think most of us have every scratch on our cars committed to memory, without trying...

So, do you think I should barge in there and demand answers, or just quietly work with the owner to get this fixed under his insurance?

Fuming mad,



Since I am obviously not thinking clearly, I should add that the shop owner did agree to open a claim under his insurance and get this fixed at a body shop of my choice...

without detailed pics I know you can't give opinions on possible fixes, but of course I am worried about possibly having to get an entire door repainted, or just the lower cladding replaced? Paint match... if they want/need to blend in a repair??

I just can't sleep at night not knowing what happened... It is almost as if one of his mechanics must have taken the car home one evening for a road test - but the shop owner denied this...

Not to mention that I worry about how many things they may have broken around the engine that they covered up, since so much of that is not visible!!!

Fuming mad even more!!



Active member
can I ask the name of the repair shop you went to?

sorry about this, I live in the area but have yet to have any body work done.


Active member

I have had no body work done on my E500 but had two repairs done on my wife's Mercedes E350 wagon at Phil's Autobody. Phil used to work at a Mercedes dealership and when they closed the body shop down he opened up his own.

He works just next to my super trusted local mechanic (Circle Star Motors - Max & Nick) that pulled the engine out of my E500 and returned my car looking better than when I dropped it off.

Both these shops are in Santa Cruz. Both are in the same industrial building complex. They refer work to one another.




postwhore posterchild
Staff member
:stirthepot: :hornets: :duck:

Tomer, first let me say that I am sorry for your "loss" We love our cars, and this stuff is distressing. So, I'm sorry for this rant, and I'm sorry if I agitate you further, but you sound like you could use some perspective from the other end of the telescope:

The following is informed by my approximately 40 years in the highline vehicle repair business. In fairness, I realize you probably don’t have the benefit of that, or you would have likely been working on your car yourself, OR this would have taken place AT your shop, and you wouldn't be telling us about it.

Regarding the sunvisor clip, a piece of aged brittle plastic happening to fall apart if/when somebody touched it, or simply completely on its own while it happened to be in their possession is not even remotely the same as “they broke it” What do you think they did with it to break it? Why would anybody willfully or even accidentally handle that area with enough force to break a perfectly good clip? Generally speaking, if somebody moved the sunvisor for whatever reason and the clip broke, standard procedure at just about any place would be to both replace the clip and tell you about it. Everybody doing this nowadays is too busy to invest even a minute in arguing with an obviously good customer over a several dollar clip.
What probably happened was something like this. Just recently I went out to my friend’s 500 that I have been in possession of for a month or so. What did I discover upon getting in? Two broken sun visor clips and an exploded interior rear view mirror housing, all victims of the plastic disintegration that occurs over time, and too many thermal expansion/contraction cycles. I did not “break“ them. Were they broken when he put the car in my possession? No. Are they broken now? Yes. Do I owe him anything other than an explanation? No. Am I now somehow obligated to pay for the ravages of 24 years time simply because the vehicle happened to be in my possession when these parts finally succumbed?

Here’s a completely commonplace everyday auto repair shop situation: Imagine if he was an ordinary customer, and the car sat on the lot for a week after the work was completed because he was out of town and could not pick it up. He would pay his bill, somebody would go to the lot and bring the car to him and depending on his knowledge of materials, experience with cars, level of trust, and/or basic humanity and decency, he may or may not start yelling, “Hey! You guys broke my mirror and my sunvisors!”
I’m NOT saying you are that guy, but if you ARE that guy, STOP being that guy...

Similarly, what do you think anybody did to cause the kind of finish damage you mentioned? Generally speaking, people that work on automobiles for a living are extremely aware that customers have WILDLY differing levels of perception regarding the overall condition of their car, particularly regarding paintwork and trim compared to when they are bringing the car in relative to when they are picking it up. We know that most customer’s vision approximates that of a glass eye up a duck’s ass at drop off and then turns into a scanning electron microscope at delivery. I can tell you that at larger shops for sure, and probably even at smaller ones, customers claiming damage to their vehicles is an everyday occurrence. At larger shops, it happens multiple times in a day. The interesting thing is, since I often deal with these people directly, I can tell they aren’t lying! They really do believe that all this accumulated damage, most of it obviously aged to an experienced eye, really happened over the time the car was at the shop. They really are believers. The only thing that gets them off this cloud, and funny enough, not even always fully, are the photographs that are so easy to do nowadays. The photos that every shop should take as a protection to you, and a protection to themselves.

Again I ask, what can you conceive that somebody would do in the course of their work to produce these "light" scratches all over? Of all the things you can imagine caused this, do any of them have a reasonable level of probability? Shop damage is almost never, “light“ and almost never widespread. It tends to be very localized and BIG. Someone trips over an air hose, knocks over a jackstand, and the jackstand falls on your fender. It’s big. It can’t be hidden. It won’t “buff out“ and it’s going to take days and dollars to fix. Almost all genuine “shop damage“ is something like that. But what do customers constantly accuse us of? You can choose to believe me or not, but I swear to you, it is almost always the "scratches all over" as if we chose to use the surfaces of their car to litter train kittens.

You think they damaged your car and then tried to touch it up to hide it from you? Well, it’s conceivable, but from my about 40 years of doing this, I know that it is also highly improbable. The kind of guy that carelessly damages your car? That guy usually doesn’t even know that he damaged it, and even more relevant to this situation, he doesn’t care if he did. He’s not going to touch it up to try to “hide it“ from you. He doesn’t care if you think he damaged it or not. It and you mean little to him. The more careful person that KNOWS he damaged your car? He won’t try to hide it from you, either. He will inform you about it and tell you how he plans to fix it. What makes the careful person careful IS his conscientiousness. He really DOES care about you and your car because that’s the kind of person he is, or because he is prideful and his ego won’t permit substandard quality, or he at least realizes that damaging your car and then trying to fool you about it is bad business that’s not likely to end well. Some combination of these things is generally driving the guy that actually knows he damaged your car. Just as with the careless guy, he doesn’t try to hide it from you, either.

You think someone drove your car after hours without your permission? Again, conceivable, but very improbable. People that do this for a living for even half a year have experience, and most of that experience is bad. They know that the chances of something bad happening to your vehicle or your business relationship rise very steeply when your vehicle is out on the road. I’m certain that I can speak for just about every person employed in automotive service when I say that we HATE driving your car even more than you hate us driving it. If anything, most of us hate it so much that we often DON’T drive it enough to serve you properly. THAT’S the actual and unfortunate truth. Just like you, most of us are more comfortable in our own vehicles then just about anywhere else, and driving your car is an anxious experience.

Joyriding? Another constant accusation. This accusation is best defended against by noting the mileage of the car upon arrival, noting the mileage and time of day in and out during test drives and the like, and noting the mileage at delivery. Whether they took these precautions or not, it’s still pretty implausible. That youthful hoodlum that you can just imagine commandeering your car to transport him and his playmates through a long night of debauchery? He doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about our old Benzes, believe me. That GT3 or GTR? Maybe. Our cars? Not so much...
But even this points up an amazing thing about this business and the people and the cars one encounters in it. The guy with the new AMG GTR? He’s the MOST likely of all customers to throw you the keys and say, “Let me know how fast you get it up to! I haven’t been over 160 yet! I left plenty of gas in it for you”

The ones that always accuse us of joyriding? The guy with the 400,000 mile ‘04 C230 with the four tires showing cord and the interior more disgustingly encrusted with biohazardous filth than the dumpster behind the free clinic. He’s actually just here to leave a list of complaints to be checked out so that he can get a new loaner car to use over the long holiday weekend. He will decline all the repairs on Tuesday and not bring the loaner car back until the NEXT Monday. It will be almost as filthy as the car he left for “service” and its tank will be empty to boot. That car and that guy? GUARANTEED joyriding accusation along with, “and look what you did to my tires!” and “You emptied my tank!” The other guaranteed joyriding complaint? The kid with the stripped CLA...

Last edited:


E500E Enthusiast
“as if we chose to use the surfaces of their car to litter train kittens.“

A classic example of a... CLASSIC!!


Damn, Klink!! Just... damn!!



Active member
The plastic surround exploded on my interior mirror and it wasn't at Klink's shop.
I had to buy Gerry's mirror to replace the one that exploded.

If only I had my car at Klink's shop


Active member
:stirthepot: :hornets: :duck:

Tomer, first let me say that I am sorry for your "loss" We love our cars, and this stuff is distressing. So, I'm sorry for this rant, and I'm sorry if I agitate you further, but you sound like you could use some perspective from the other end of the telescope.....
After this legendary 10,000 word diatribe, I can think of no better (and no more fitting) way to respond than to post this:


Seriously though, although I fell out of my carefully-constructed and elegantly proportioned danish modern chair (of course upholstered with neatly tailored maharam fabrics) at multiple points while reading Klink's mother-of-all-flame-rants, this particular phrase had me ROFL:

We know that most customer’s vision approximates that of a glass eye up a duck’s ass at drop off and then turns into a scanning electron microscope at delivery.

No, seriously, Tomer, I feel your pain. And I totally get your anxiety about going to a body shop.

Are you anywhere near SF? I know a gentleman by the name of Patrick Carr. He lives in SF. He is an awesome painter. He specializes in "touch up paint" of classic and exotic cars for owners who are allergic to bodyshops. He makes house calls.

I highly recommend him. He's done "touch up" work on three of my cars ... and by touch, I mean:

1) repainted a rear fender due to me burning through the clear coat with a polisher.
2) repainted a different rear fender on a different car due to me burning through the clear coat with a polisher (clearly I don't learn)
3) repainted a rear fender due to my elderly father scraping the fender with his own car, as he is having trouble gauging distances these days
4) repainted two front fenders to eliminate rock chips.

He is very good. Give him a call. Note - his personality has an "edge" to it, but if you can work past that "edge," he is very very very good and very very honest. He re-did #3 for me three times, without me asking, on three different days, because he wanted to get it just right. PM me for his phone number if you are interested.


Active member
Tomer, first let me say that I am sorry for your "loss" We love our cars, and this stuff is distressing. So, I'm sorry for this rant, and I'm sorry if I agitate you further, but you sound like you could use some perspective from the other end of the telescope:

The following is informed by my approximately 40 years in the highline vehicle repair business. (snip)

Thats the longest/funniest/most passionate post in an automotive forum I have ever read.

Not surprised you wrote a chapter in the cannonball book. You probably ghostwrote the whole damn thing!

Tomer, I bought my car from a gent in Santa Clara. He had previously had some work done at ‘House of Miracles’ in Cupertino. I obviously did not interact with them in anyway, but the results were quite nice! Thats about as close to a recommendation as I can get.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Klink, you must have had a bad day (week?) at work!!! That was a serious investment in time, and very entertaining I must say...

I am with you, I have dealt with the public for many years (although not as many as you!) in automotive and other aspects, and I have experienced some weird scenarios along the way.

Naturally the visor clip is minor, and can easily be forgotten... it just added to my frustration since they did not mention it.

The owner and other two mechanics always comment on how clean my car is when I have it there, and I am definitely not THAT guy, I have just learned a tough lesson that this shop has a new guy who is not being honest, and I will have to take photos and note the mileage going forward-should I decide to bring the car back to this shop. Naturally I will only do so if I get one of the other guys I know...

The owner did not argue at all, as I suspect he knows he has a bad apple in the basket... it happens eh.

Thanks to all for the local recommendations, I will be checking them out starting tomorrow!

Tomer (still fuming mad btw)


Active member
It is almost as if one of his mechanics must have taken the car home one evening for a road test
One thing I do with my car is not use the lower odometer for tracking how many miles on the tank but rather to keep a shop from driving it excessively. It is much harder to hide a Ferris Bueller ride when that odometer reads 462 than when it reads 012. I then just keep an eye on what that mileage was when I bring it in.



Active member
A number of years back my brother had his Porsche 928 S4 in at a Porsche main dealer getting serviced. A mechanic took it out for a spin and crashed it into a barrier in the rain. The dealer then phoned my brother to tell him about what happened and also complained that the new front fender was so expensive they would rather repair his original item instead. He declined and insisted that a full sports exhaust system etc was fitted to it for the trouble. It was an expensive mistake for the dealer :agree:

Klink’s input is fantastic and very interesting to hear another side of some of these stories. However, obviously in some cases the damage may be exaggerated (Unintentionally or otherwise) and in other cases it will have happened….. but sadly be ingable to prove a garage labile may be nigh on impossible. Better to try to avoid shops if possible and DIY service IMO.

Tyre shops and damage, that’s on a whole nother level. I can’t recall when they HAVENT added scrapes to a wheel of mine. And these such bad tyre shops are well seasoned experts at denying all around them.


postwhore posterchild
Staff member
If one had to give the greater automotive service organism an enema, the tire store is where you insert the nozzle...


Zivil Ingenieur
The best auto repair commercial ever. Sums it up most auto repair shops pretty well.



E500E Newbie
Unfortunately, Klink is correct. The E500E is a performance car and suffers what all performance car suffer. That being said, I myself realize that certain things on these cars will and do break. I have had the upper wiring harness replaced, transmission rebuilt, engine oil leaks resealed, caps and rotors replaced and plastic pieces replaced. Especially since the car is going on 25 years. After all, it is a machine. That being said, I really enjoy driving it and would do it all over again.