The first step after your car has been involved in a collision is getting a repair estimate. This can be a confusing, frustrating experience. You want your car returned to its original condition, but you know that some auto body repair shops may not necessarily provide you with the look you want. These tips can help you choose the right location for your estimate so that your car is repaired at a low cost but with the quality you want.
Don’t Search For Online Estimator Tools
More than likely, your first instinct is to turn to Google to find a body shop that will provide you with an estimate. You may also find online estimation tools designed to give you an idea what your vehicle repairs will cost. Some of those tools will give you a decent rough estimate of what repair costs may be but understand that only a professional estimator can give you an actual cost. You may look at your car and think that the damage is not that significant, so the estimator is only using the information you provide. You may not see hidden damage under the body or understand the various complexities involved in body work. By the same token, you may think your vehicle damage is extensive when, with modern technology, the repair may be relatively simple.
Choosing a Body Shop
More than likely, you will be required to get more than one estimate if insurance is paying for your vehicle. These tips can be used for all the appointments you make to get the estimate. Although Google can give you a list of body shops in your area, there are other factors you want to consider. Talk to your friends and family as word-of-mouth recommendations are often more accurate than those found online. Large body shops or those operated by national chains often have high hourly labor charges which is how their estimates can be higher than smaller shops. Sometimes, the hours are padded with non-essential work in order to push the estimate up higher. Be sure to look at the hourly labor charge on any estimate you receive. Ask about warranty coverage including how long the warranty is and what it covers. Shops should offer at least a one-year warranty while some offer two, three and even lifetime warranties. One question that is often overlooked is whether the shop has fire and theft insurance. While your vehicle is being repaired, you want to be sure it is covered against damage should something happen.
Talking to the Estimator
More than likely, you will be required to get more than one estimate if insurance is paying for your vehicle. These tips can be used for all the appointments you make to get the estimate. Estimates should be free and should take roughly 30 minutes. The estimator will thoroughly inspect your car’s damage while you wait, or you can leave your car and return at another time to get the estimate. You should receive a written, itemized estimate once they have completed the inspection. When talking to the estimator, explain to them what you expect. If you want Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, be sure to let them know that so they can include the correct prices in the estimate.
The extent of damage will determine the amount of your estimate, but it can vary greatly between body shops. The written estimate should include costs for materials and parts as well as labor for the repair and painting of your vehicle. As a general rule, small damage that requires no paint should cost less than $500 while a small repair that involves a bumper or fender could cost between $500 and $1,000. Damage to several panels, like the lights, grill, bumper or fender could cost between $1,500 and $4,000 while extensive damage that makes your vehicle undrivable could cost $6,000 or more.
If your vehicle has been in a collision, contact Elmer’s Auto Body today to arrange for your free estimate appointment. You can reach us by phone or by using the easy online form.