The 3 Factors That Go Into Auto Body Shop Repair Estimates

    Auto body and paint shop

    Every year there are over 230,000 car crashes in the state of Florida alone. If you’re unfortunate enough to be involved in one of them — as most drivers are, at some point in their lives — you may find yourself seeking out body shop estimates to repair any damaged sustained in the accident. But how can you determine if the prices you’re being quoted are fair? To help you compare, here are the basic elements that go into auto body repair estimates:

    1. Parts:

      The most basic part of any repair is the parts that are needed to accomplish it. This is also the easiest part of your estimate to compare, since it should theoretically be the same at each shop. Make sure that you’re comparing the same part, however, since not all body shops will use the official manufacturer parts when repairing your vehicle. Often, you’ll have a choice between OEM (original equipment manufacturer), generic or refurbished parts.

    2. Labor:

      Labor costs depend on two things: the shop’s hourly labor charge and how long it takes to repair your vehicle (sometimes an estimate is used, instead of how long it actually takes). When you’re comparing various body shop estimates, you should obviously take into account the level of training the technicians have; as in most industries, it’s worth paying a little more because you’re likely to get a better result. You can look for certifications up on the walls of each body shop, or just ask. You should also make sure before signing any paperwork that the shop will get approval from you before going above a certain number of hours or a certain expense level.

    3. Overhead:

      Just like any other kind of business, an automotive body shop has to keep the lights on, which means paying for rent and utilities. And furthermore, modern body shops have to invest in quite a bit of expensive equipment — some mechanical, some electronic — to get your car running and looking like new again. Normally, these expenses are rolled into the “labor” portion of your bill, so know that your technician probably isn’t really making $120 every hour.

    You should also keep in mind that body shop estimates will vary widely from region to region, so you’ll need to get estimates from local auto body shops (not from an online calculator offering national averages) to be comparing apples to apples.

    Do you have any other advice for comparing body shop estimates for automotive collision repair? Join the discussion in the comments.

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