There is no need to tell you that a vehicle collision is a serious problem. Even a minor collision can result in a large repair bill, so it’s important to drive carefully. Still, it isn’t always possible to avoid an accident, particularly if it results from someone else’s mistake. When that happens, collision repair is the next step. Let’s talk about collision repair estimate costs and what you can expect when it’s time to get one.
1. Don’t Bother With Online Estimators
There are places on the internet which claim to accurately predict collision repair costs. Unfortunately, these tools are not the most reliable. The problem is that you never really know the full extent of the damage until an expert gets in there and takes a close look. Your initial impressions could be wrong, and that will cause the estimate to be wrong as well. In the end, these tools don’t do anything except give you unrealistic expectations.
2. Understand That Labor Rates Vary
It is relatively easy to estimate the cost of a replacement part. You simply check the average price of the item and factor that into the cost. However, labor costs are another story. These costs are assessed at an hourly rate, and that hourly rate will vary from one shop to another. This is another thing that makes estimation difficult.
If you have collision coverage, this will also affect labor rates. You will be utilizing a shop that is recommended by your insurance company, and the rates will likely be lower. This is because insurance companies have good business relationships with these repair shops, allowing them to negotiate better labor rates. So, if your insurance is paying, the labor costs will probably be significantly lower.
3. Understand The Abbreviations
When you are given a copy of the repair estimate, you should make sure you understand all the items on that list. There will likely be some abbreviations, so don’t hesitate to ask about those. For instance, some shops will use the abbreviation “R & I.” There’s nothing complex about this one, as it just stands for “replacing and installing.”
4. OEM Parts Are Always More Expensive
If you have ever had your car repaired at a dealership, you know that they tend to be more expensive. This is because you are enlisting the help of specialized mechanics who are certified to deal with every aspect of your particular vehicle. Specialized labor is always more expensive, but it also tends to be better.
Have you ever wondered why dealership repairs are more expensive? One of the main reasons is the use of OEM (original engine manufacturer) parts. As the name implies, these are original parts that come straight from the factory. And so, if you see a lot of OEM parts on your estimate, you might be able to negotiate a lower price by suggesting the use of secondhand parts. Aftermarket parts are commonly abbreviated as “LKQ”, which means “like kind quality.”
5. Try To Get More Than One Estimate
As with any goods or services, it is important to compare prices before you make a firm decision. However, when you compare different estimates, you need to bear several things in mind.
First, a lot of shops will promise you a lower cost. That doesn’t mean they will actually deliver. They are not legally obligated to stick with the estimate, so the final bill can end up being a lot larger. Secondly, a lower repair cost won’t do you any good if the work isn’t done correctly. Thus, you should not just go with the lowest estimate. It is far better to go with a shop that has earned your trust through prior dealings.
6. Understand The Seriousness Of Frame Damage
If the underlying frame of your car has been damaged in a collision, that is a much more serious kind of job. The frame of your vehicle is the foundation of its structural integrity. In fact, the only part of your car that is more crucial would be the engine. In a collision, a weak frame can turn a vehicle into a deathtrap, and repair shops are fully aware of this fact. Thus, if you have damage to your frame, understand that it might be better to replace the vehicle. These repairs will be more expensive due to the potential liability issues involved.
7. Be Prepared For Some Waiting Time
Finally, you need to understand that collision repairs can take time. Even though you may have important commitments, the shop is not going to turn the vehicle loose until it is deemed safe. Despite the inconveniences this can cause, you want your repair shop to be thorough and complete. Rush jobs are rarely thorough and complete, so give them enough time to do things correctly.
If there is one common theme in all of this, it is the fact that estimates are seldom 100% accurate. Their purpose is to give you some idea of what you will need to spend, so take them for what they are. When you need a collision repair estimate, the first question to ask is: “Where can I find the best auto body shop near me?” If you are located in South Jersey, the answer is Elmer’s Auto Body. With 75 years of collision repair experience, we can offer you the best service and the most accurate estimates that are possible. If you would like to learn more, you can call us at (856) 218-0202.