The Real Difference Between Auto Body Repair Estimates

The Real Difference Between Auto Body Repair Estimates

Auto body repair is never really an enjoyable process, but it’s an inescapable part of life. As long as you drive, there will occasionally be a need to repair your vehicle. And, of course, such repairs can sometimes be expensive. After a collision or other accident, you will surely be thinking about the monetary damages, and that’s why it is important to get an accurate estimate from the repair shop. However, getting such an accurate estimate can be difficult. There are very real differences between different kinds of estimates, so let’s try to clear up this misunderstanding.

The Two Kinds Of Estimates

First off, you need to know that there are two basic types of car repair estimates: The quick kind and the thorough kind. The quick kind of estimate is normally done when your vehicle first arrives and is not intended to be authoritative. It’s just an initial assessment so that the shop can get an idea of what they will be repairing. This kind of estimate is usually done by visual inspection. In other words, someone will just walk around the car and look for any obvious problems.

A thorough estimate is something different entirely. First of all, this kind of assessment has to be done by a certified mechanic, as only they will have the knowledge to give an accurate estimate. Secondly, they won’t just look for obvious problems. Instead, they will look for all the problems that can be found. Needless to say, this sort of estimate takes a lot longer. However, it’s always going to be more accurate.

Understanding The Difference

When you get an initial cost estimate, you should understand that it won’t represent the final price. It’s a ballpark figure, so take it as such. Even if the initial assessment comes from a reliable source (like an adjuster from your insurance company), you should still take it with a grain of salt.

One reason for this lack of predictability comes from the repair shops themselves. Mechanics generally charge by the hour, and all of them will have different hourly rates. Your insurance adjuster certainly won’t have time to check the rates for every mechanic in the area, and a shop employee won’t have any reason to do that at all.

What Is A Supplemental Repair?

At some point, you might hear your mechanic or someone from the insurance company talking about the need for a supplemental repair. This term is kind of self-explanatory, as we are talking about extra repairs that need to be added after the initial assessment. When a repair shop determines that a vehicle requires more than the estimate could cover, they have to file a supplement claim with your insurance company.

While this claim is being processed, the repair job will (unfortunately) be put on hold. This is why collision repair can sometimes take a long time. The approval process can take anywhere from a few days to a week or more. It all depends on how fast your insurance company moves. In any case, supplemental repairs are one of the main things that can raise a repair bill beyond what was expected.

Should I Be Suspicious Of Cost Overruns?

If your repair bill turns out to be way higher than your initial estimate, you should probably be a little bit suspicious. However, don’t jump to conclusions because there is probably a good explanation. If you find yourself in this predicament, the best thing you can do is contact the shop directly and ask them to explain every part of the bill. There is no need to get rude or angry, just ask a lot of questions and get the information you need. They should be able to provide documentation for every repair. Also, in most cases, there will be no need to get too suspicious because everything will already have been investigated and approved by your insurance company.

Estimates Can Also Overestimate Your Damage

Obviously, not all vehicle damage can be detected visually. Other problems can be seen with the eye, but not until you remove one or more parts. When a quick initial estimate is done, the inspector will not be removing parts or anything of the sort. Instead, they will be taking guesses and making a cost estimate based on those guesses. If the inspector has overestimated the extent of the damage, those associated costs will not show up on the final bill. Thus, depending on the nature of your repair and the damage done, you might even end up with a bill that is lower than your initial estimate.

Call Elmer’s Auto Body Today!

Before you walk into a body shop for a repair estimate, it pays to know what you are doing. In this way, you will know what to expect and how to react. It is, of course, important to understand the difference between a quick estimate and a thorough estimate. A thorough estimate usually involves removing parts and checking many different things manually, which takes a lot longer than walking around the car and looking for signs of wear. In any case, you might now find yourself asking: “Where can I find the best auto body shop near me?” To answer that question, you need only call Elmer’s Auto Body at (856) 218-0202.

Unseen Damage Caused By Rear-End Collisions

Unseen Damage Caused By Rear-End Collisions

Most of us have had the experience of being rear-ended in traffic. Since these are usually just minor bumps, people sometimes tend to dismiss these accidents without reporting them. This is especially true if there is no visible damage to either vehicle. However, a lack of visible damage does not rule out the possibility of hidden damage. Not all problems are easy to see, so never just assume that your car is fine after a collision. Let’s talk about the most common types of hidden damage.

1. Frame Damage

This one is obviously the most dangerous possibility. A car with a bent or broken frame is absolutely unsafe to drive. Not only does it provide much less protection against impact, but it can also throw your entire vehicle out of alignment. If you thought it was bad having a wheel or two out of alignment, imagine what happens when the whole car is warped!

When your vehicle has a damaged frame, it might even start swerving to one side. If this happens at the wrong time, it can throw you right into the other lane and right into the path of another vehicle. The worst part of all? You will have no ability to correct the situation. The only thing you can do is throw the steering wheel hard to the opposite side, which may or may not be effective. Needless to say, it’s better to just get the frame repaired or replace the vehicle.

2. Transmission Damage

Many vehicles have their transmission in the rear, or they have transmission components in the rear. Together with the frame and the engine, your transmission is one of the three most important parts of your vehicle. Your transmission uses a series of gears and chains (similar to bicycle chains) to move your car in and out of the various gears. This requires specific timing and adjustment, and a collision can easily throw that timing out of whack.

Also, if any part of the transmission system is damaged, it will likely leak transmission fluid. Without that, your transmission will not work properly and may even be ruined. When you start working all those chains and cogs with no lubrication, all that metal grinding on metal can be disastrous.

3. Hidden Fender Damage

You surely know that all vehicles have front and rear fenders, but think about this: Are they always visible? The answer is no, many modern vehicles have fenders that are hidden by panels of steel or plastic. This is done mainly for cosmetic reasons, but it does have one negative side effect: It is harder to tell when your bumper has been damaged.

A damaged fender is no joke. When a collision occurs, the front or rear fender is usually the first part to take the impact. There’s a reason why they call these things “bumpers.” So, since these chunks of steel are your first line of defense, you need to make sure that they are strong at all times. For this reason, you should always get your vehicle checked out by a certified auto body shop after a collision.

4. Electrical Problems

A minor rear-end collision can also cause problems with your vehicle’s electrical system. There is a complex network of electronic components in every modern vehicle, consisting of wires, relays, fuses, switches, and various other things. If one of these components should become detached, all sorts of problems can occur. Your electrical system powers door locks, tail lights (and all other lights), turn signals, AC, stereo, etc.

The vehicle’s electricity comes from the battery, which is charged by the alternator, which is run by a belt pulley from the engine. Alternators and batteries are usually located in the front of the vehicle, but some designers have put these components in the rear. You’ve probably known at least one person whose car battery was located in the trunk. Even in a minor collision with no visible damage, those electrical components can easily be damaged or detached.

5. Suspension Problems

When we talk about your car’s suspension system, we are mainly talking about the shocks. These are large spring-loaded rods that allow your vehicle to bounce on its wheels to some extent. This makes for a much smoother ride, and it also maximizes the friction between your tires and the road. By suspending all of the vehicle’s weight over the tires, the suspension system puts all that weight and pressure right where it needs to be. This makes your vehicle less likely to slide or slip when driving on wet/icy roads.

Naturally, a rear collision can easily cause damage to the rear wheels. If the suspension system connected to those wheels is damaged, you may not notice the effects until much later. In particular, you will probably notice that kind of damage when you hit a bump in the road or when you drive on wet/icy roads.


After a collision, you need to take action immediately. You’ll want to exchange information with the other driver and with any witnesses, and you’ll need to call the police and your insurance company. Once all that is done, however, your next job will be finding a good body shop in your area. Only a qualified professional can verify that your vehicle is still safe to drive. So, if you’re at that stage, you might be wondering: “Where can I find the best auto body shop near me?” To answer that question, just give us a call at (856) 218-0202.

A Beginner’s Guide to Car Dents: Everything You Need to Know

A Beginner’s Guide to Car Dents: Everything You Need to Know

Everyone has seen or experienced a dent. It’s just an impact that causes the metal to be pushed inward, which is both unsightly and potentially unsafe. However, it never hurts to learn a little bit more. So, let’s talk about car dents. More specifically: What are they, what causes them, and how they are repaired?

What Is A Dent?

Obviously, a dent exists when a particular surface has been caved inward. This is most often the result of an impact, and it doesn’t always take a large impact. You probably know all this, but here’s the important part: Knowing when a dent is truly a dent. Sometimes, a light impact (like a hailstorm) can damage the paint without actually denting the underlying metal. When this happens, you just need a new paint job. If this happens, you can count yourself among the lucky ones.

When the metal of your vehicle has been dented, but only to the tiniest degree, that is usually called a ding. A ding is obviously much easier to repair, and will certainly be cheaper to repair as well. When you truly have a dent in your vehicle, it will be pretty obvious because they are always larger than dings or spots of damaged paint.

Most Common Causes Of Dents

A lot of things can hit your vehicle while it’s out in the world, and it can even happen in your driveway at home. For instance, falling sticks and limbs from nearby trees can potentially cause a dent (or at least some ugly scratches). Impact with another vehicle will usually cause a large dent at the point of impact. Believe it or not, shopping carts are also one of the most common causes of denting. Although shopping carts don’t travel at a very high speed, they are made of steel and can build up some serious momentum on a downhill grade. We already mentioned hail, and that isn’t the only weather hazard, either.

Golf balls, baseballs, and other flying objects also frequently cause vehicle dents. Depending on where you live, this might be an everyday hazard. Finally, there is also the potential hazard of wildlife on the road. Hitting a large animal such as a deer or a vulture can cause major damage, and even hitting a small animal can cause minor damage or throw you off course and cause an accident.

How Dents Are Repaired

Now let’s focus on the positive part: How do you repair these issues? There are several methods, so we will discuss those that are most frequently used. However, the first thing you need to consider is whether or not you can employ paintless dent repair (PDR) techniques. Normally, repairing a dent requires that you repaint the damaged area. However, there are methods that allow a trained technician to remove dents while preserving the paint layer.

So, what’s the catch? Well, there’s only one: PDR only works for small to medium-sized dents. If you are dealing with a large dent, the paint will have already been damaged by the impact. As such, it cannot be saved no matter how skilled the technician might be. However, the majority of dents tend to be small enough for PDR to work. If your vehicle is dented in a serious way, you’ll probably need to replace the entire part anyway.

Dent Removal Techniques

There are a great many techniques that can be used to remove dents and dings. Sometimes, a special glue can be used. They apply the glue to the dented area, which allows a special tool to grip the glue and pull the dent outward. This is an older method, but it works quite well. In fact, it is probably the most common way to remove small dings.

For larger dents, things like that won’t do the trick. Instead, they have to use another special tool to hit the part from the inside, denting it in the opposite direction. Once that is done, any excess metal is trimmed away. This technique is sometimes called “knockdown.” Sometimes, this kind of thing can be done without hitting or tapping the metal. If the metal is flexible enough, pressure alone might be used. There are even some technicians who use a magnetic induction technique which involves heating the metal and then using a magnetic field to warp it in the right direction and assist in its removal.

Can Dented Plastic Be Repaired?

No vehicle today is made exclusively from steel. They all have at least some plastic parts, and this may include outer parts that are prone to denting and other impact damage. If you are dealing with a dented plastic panel or something of that sort, it can probably be repaired. They simply heat the dented area and use a suction puller to slowly remove the dent. As long as the plastic hasn’t been cracked or broken in any way, dented plastic parts can be repaired.


Although it is sometimes possible to repair a dent on your own, it really is better to trust trained experts. Besides, this kind of thing requires special tools that most people do not have. If you find yourself asking “where can I find a good and affordable auto body shop near me?”, we have the answer. Elmer’s Auto Body has been in the business for 75 years, and we always deliver the best in service and quality. To find out more, call us at (856) 218-0202.

The Future Of Auto Body Repair: Technology And Innovation

The Future Of Auto Body Repair: Technology And Innovation

The automotive industry in the last few years has witnessed a dramatic transformation. Still, we could hardly call it a surprise seeing all the new technologies like self-driving cars and electric cars rolling out. Less than a decade ago, those same technologies enjoyed far less popularity, and the general awareness of them was a shrug of the shoulders. To better understand the current landscape of auto body repair, let’s look at the new technology and innovation coming soon.


Future Auto Body Repair

In the future, collision repair will depend on professionals in the business to improve the lifespan of car parts. We need this improved lifespan to advance and create new opportunities. Collision repair professionals will continue to innovate. This innovation will let customers save more money. In doing this, they can own some of the newer and more technologically advanced vehicles.

What Does "Certified Auto Body Repair" Mean?

What Can We Expect for Changes?

Right now, the auto body repair industry struggles with the quality of key vehicle part repairs. Car owners will continue to seek more cost-effective solutions and look for ways to make the repairs last longer. Collision repair professionals who can meet this demand with open arms will excel in business. They will seek new ways to offer new products to customers and improve existing products.

Efficiency will continue to grow in importance if we wish to compete with our rivals. Collision repair professionals will need to make repairs in a timely fashion, and they will need to keep offering them at increasingly affordable prices, even if the price increases in other ways.


Newly Emerging Auto Body Techniques

New technology in this industry will continue to evolve, and one of the specific areas where we might see change relates to the use of aluminum in car design. In the past, only high-end supercars and performance cars would receive aluminum body panels. Rumors are already circulating that Ford plans to design all-new aluminum-bodied vehicles. The reasons behind it include the lightweight material lending itself well to better fuel economy and better ability to meet safety standards.

This shift will mean a change because most technicians only know how to work on steel cars. You can’t reshape a banged-up aluminum body in the same way as a steel car. You need welding equipment and aluminum riveting tools. That will mean that auto body repairs will cost more for some vehicles, but will receive a stronger car that lasts longer.

How to Choose The Right Auto Body Shop

Augmented Reality: How Will That Work?

Believe it or not, augmented reality will play a new role in the auto body shop. Google, “auto body shop near me,” and many of the ones that you see right now may change their strategy to include augmented reality. You might, for example, see auto body professionals put on Google Glass headsets to feed them visual information about the car. Volkswagen became the first automaker to float the possibility of this technology to people.

New cars have complicated and dangerous features like electronic and hybrid drivetrains. This augmented reality will save technicians the amount of time spent learning how new vehicles work, and it will make it safer for them to make the repairs.


3D Printing: Untapped Potential

In the 3D printing realm, we see a great deal of untapped potential. We can, for example, use 3D printers and computers to recreate objects. Especially with older cars where finding the parts can be notoriously difficult, this will make it easier. Just take out the one you broke, scan it and it will spit out a new auto part.

Right now, 3D printers remain out of reach for most people, but as technology advances, they will become more affordable. The difficulty of using a 3D printer will become less complicated in the future as well.

This isn’t a stretch either considering how automakers already use 3D printers to create prototypes. Insurance companies have sought ways to recreate classic cars. Still, the stakes with this will need to prove fail-safe. Imagine the high stakes when you 3D print a set of brake calipers.


Onboard Communication Systems

Most of us have heard about GM OnStar at one point or another, which has existed for over 25 years. When you activate it, it interacts verbally with you. It can offer you turn-by-turn directions and assistance in the event of a car accident. In the future, we may see an increasing number of companies offering similar technologies.

Most, if not all automakers, in the future, will likely offer similar services with their own insurance products. AI, in the same way, that it revolutionizes other industries, will revolutionize auto technology as well. We will likely see new standards rolling out as the technology comes out. While we can choose to resist the changes, it will allow us to compete better if we adopt them.

All of this happening has already begun, and the tidal wave is coming for us even now. We will need to adapt and change at an increasing rate as this technology rolls out.



If you’d like to speak more about the future of auto technology, feel free to contact Elmer’s Auto Body. We have run our family-owned and operated business in South Jersey for over 70 years. With that amount of experience, we have seen where auto body repair started and where it may end up. No one knows the future for sure, but this does give us some idea of where it may be headed. Call us today at (856) 218-0202.

What Are OEM Parts?

What Are OEM Parts?

At some point in your vehicle’s life, you will probably need to replace certain parts, whether they be small or significant. There are a few different paths for you to take, but your biggest choice will be between OEM parts and aftermarket parts. Not all parts are created equally though, so you should know what exactly you will be putting in your vehicle, and Elmer’s Auto Body is here to help you make this important decision for you and your family.


What Are OEM Parts?

OEM parts are automotive parts made by the manufacturer (OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer). There may be many reasons for you to want or avoid OEM parts, but the choice should be simple once you understand what OEM parts are, as well as the pros and cons of using them.



Advantages of OEM Parts

OEM parts come directly from the manufacturer and are made specifically for your make and model of vehicle. You can be assured that any OEM part you purchase will fit perfectly and perform exactly as if it had been there since the car was first put on the lot. Aftermarket (non-OEM) parts are usually designed to fit a wide variety of different vehicles, so the fit won’t always be as superior as with OEM parts. Most OEM parts will also come with a one-year warranty and can be replaced (within a year) if any issues arise, with no additional cost to the customer. You must also be aware of your vehicle’s existing warranty, as the use of aftermarket parts on your vehicle may void your vehicle’s current warranty coverage. Aftermarket parts may also come in numerous different levels of quality with different brands and prices, and OEM parts usually only have a single type, the perfect fit for your vehicle.


Besides the peace of mind you get from knowing your part will be an exact fit, as well as the safety net of the warranty, you can be assured that OEM parts are made from high-quality materials and you can rest easy knowing that you are getting exactly what you pay for. OEM parts usually will be acquired from a dealership as well, which will promise a level of quality that can be guaranteed, as opposed to a chain or independent body shop which may have varying levels of quality and care with your vehicle. One reason purchasing aftermarket parts may be cheaper is that quality is sacrificed, and often any savings the driver may have from avoiding OEM parts are negated by the lack of quality in the aftermarket parts.


Disadvantages of OEM Parts

An OEM part will usually be the best option for consumers, but sometimes the cons of OEM parts outweigh the pros, depending on each consumer’s specific situation. OEM parts will usually cost nearly sixty percent more than aftermarket parts (according to a study by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America), and despite most OEM parts being of superior quality than their aftermarket counterparts, this is not always the case– as there may be aftermarket parts of equal or greater quality with a lower price (for those willing to hunt for them).


Because the OEM parts are so specifically made for your make and model, that means there will be fewer parts available which may cause some trouble finding OEM parts. OEM parts can be found online and may even be requested from a local mechanic, but it may take longer to get these parts, and it limits the number of places that you could acquire OEM parts from. Since aftermarket parts are manufactured to fit many different styles and types of cars universally, there will usually be an abundance of aftermarket parts to choose from (though this may lead to an overabundance of choices sometimes). This may lead to aftermarket parts fitting a more specific need, as you could sacrifice aesthetics for quality, comfort, or better overall performance.


So When Should I Request OEM Parts?

For repairs following a collision, OEM parts should be prioritized, as aftermarket body panels may not fit and may compromise the vehicle’s structural safety. Customers that lease a car may have additional issues to consider, as aftermarket parts will decrease the value of your vehicle, and may cost you all or part of your security deposit. Aftermarket parts may provide value in rare cases, but if you aren’t one to work on your own car, or if you are unfamiliar with all the different brands and levels of quality, OEM parts will provide a solid fool-proof fix with the previously stated peace of mind that a warranty and guaranteed quality and fit will provide.


Things to Consider About OEM Parts

Tom Torbjornsen, who was the host of America’s Car Show, has stated that the gap in pricing between OEM and aftermarket parts seems to be closing, as he claims that dealers have begun to compete with independent shops when it comes to parts. So the advantage of saving money may be less appealing than it previously has been. Additionally, in twenty-one states (as well as the District of Columbia), a body shop’s repair estimate doesn’t have to indicate whether or not an Aftermarket or OEM part is used. Your insurance company will probably prefer you to choose an aftermarket part because of cost, and some companies may add an additional fee if you do decide to choose OEM parts for your vehicle. Before purchasing parts, always check with your insurance provider to see what parts, if any, will be covered (as well as your vehicle’s lease agreement, if it is a lease).


Get Your Car Repaired With OEM Parts

So are you ready to make your decision between OEM and aftermarket?  Or do you still have questions on whether OEM or aftermarket parts may be right for you? Either way, our professionals at Elmer’s Auto Body will be available to assist you! Call (609)-714-4050 or contact us through our website today to book your free consultation, or to book an appointment now!

What To Do When You Get Involved In A Fender Bender Accident

What To Do When You Get Involved In A Fender Bender Accident

It’s time to talk about an unpleasant topic, and that topic is auto accidents. Specifically, we are talking about “fender benders”: Minor collisions that result in minor damage. Despite the name, a fender bender doesn’t necessarily involve fender damage. This term is generally applied to any minor collision between vehicles. So, what should you do if you happen to be involved in one of these? Let’s talk about the most important points.


Step 1: Get All Vehicles To A Safe Position

After the collision has occurred, your first priority is to get both vehicles to a safe position. This will usually mean pulling over to the roadside and waiting for the other driver to do the same. If such an area is not available, use a nearby driveway, a parking lot, or anything else that puts you in a safe location.

If possible, you should get their license plate number before this point, however. Most people will be responsible enough to pull over and exchange information, but some people might get scared and bolt, especially if they were clearly at fault. If necessary, you should direct the other driver to a good place. In most cases, these types of minor accidents will not disable a vehicle, giving you the opportunity to find a good place. The important thing is to get you and the other driver out of traffic where you might be hit again. If you cannot pull off the road, light some road flares around your vehicle.


Step 2: Exchange Information With The Other Driver

After you have removed yourself from immediate danger, you need to exchange information with the other driver. This should include:

  • Names
  • Insurance policy information
  • Telephone numbers
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • License plate numbers
  • Make and model of both vehicles

One little thing to remember at this point: Do not admit fault in any way. If you do, this can later be used against you. Make sure you never admit fault in any way, shape, or form. The question of fault should be decided by qualified investigators, so never automatically assume that you’re at fault and don’t allow the other driver to do so.


Step 3: Analyze And Document The Damage

It is very important to take pictures of both vehicles before even calling the police. If the matter should be disputed by either insurance company, it will be necessary to prove the extent of the damage. Obviously, you should focus your efforts on the areas that have suffered the most damage. Don’t hesitate to take multiple pictures of the same spot from multiple angles. Such pictures will be very valuable to insurance investigators and could prevent you from being held liable. If there are any witnesses involved, this is also the time to talk with them.


Step 4: Call The Police

Now that you have gathered all the necessary information and evidence, it is time to call the police and report the accident. When you’re talking about a fender bender, there is a natural temptation to blow it off and drive away. This should never be done because not all damage is obvious at first. For instance, many modern vehicles have front or rear fenders that are covered by panels. Thus, it may not always be possible to see when they have been bent or dented. You should always report an accident.

As before, make sure that you never admit fault when talking to the officer. Present your account of the incident in a truthful and straightforward manner. When we say “don’t admit fault,” we are not telling you to lie. We are just telling you to stick with the facts. Just tell the officer what happened and let things be decided in the proper way. Before the officer leaves, make sure that you ask for a police report number. This will enable you to get a copy of the accident report from the local police station.


Step 5: Call Your Insurance Company

Don’t assume that your insurance company will be informed about the accident. Either way, it is your responsibility to call them and make a report. The general contact number for your insurance company should be fine, so just call them up and tell them that you need to report an accident. When they connect you to the appropriate person, Simply tell them what happened. They will undoubtedly want to see all of the pictures from the scene of the accident. They will also want the police report number so that they can verify your story. The more information you can give them, the better.



Now that all the legal matters have been handled, it’s time to worry about getting your vehicle fixed. If the damage is very small, you might want to just drive to your preferred repair shop. If it’s a little worse, you’ll need to call a tow truck. Regardless, you will have to ask yourself: “what is the best auto body shop near me?” If you are located in South Jersey, the answer is Elmer’s Auto Body. We have been proudly serving this locality for over 70 years, and we have a well-earned reputation for excellence. If you need help with a fender bender, you can call us at (856) 218-0202.