You’ve been in an automobile accident, you’ve talked to your insurance company, and now it is time to get a body shop repair estimate. It is a stressful time, and, for most car owners, the estimation of repairs can be a confusing process. However, it doesn’t have to be. Once you understand what to expect from the estimate process, you’ll feel better prepared to choose the right auto body shop for your repairs.
Online Estimators Are Only a Ballpark Figure
Online estimators are designed to give an extremely high-level auto body repair estimate based on your input. Without professional input, you are only guessing at the extent of the damage. Just remember, you may not be able to see all of the damage, so your online estimate could be much less than what it will actually take to repair it. If you really want to know the extent of the damage and what it will take to fix it, you need to get an estimate from an experienced auto body repair service.
Know Your Limitations
Unless you have experience in automobile repair, be prepared that the reality of the situation could be much different than you expect. That “small scratch” could be very costly to repair. The reason could be that there is underlying damage or the parts may only be available from the automobile manufacturer. The repairs may be labor-intensive or require specialized skills to complete. That’s why you need a professional to assess the damage.
Getting an Estimate
Once you’ve chosen the collision repair service to provide an auto body estimate, you’ll need to make an appointment. It should take only around 30 minutes, and many shops offer free estimates. This is not a process that you want to rush, as you want the most accurate estimate possible. After the inspection, you should receive an itemized estimate.
Now is the time you should review the evaluation and ask the estimator any questions or voice any concerns. The costs for damage can vary according to the extent of the damage, parts availability, make and model of the vehicle, and the amount of labor required to complete the repair. They may ask you if you prefer OEM parts, meaning that you can choose to have original equipment manufacturer parts that could be more expensive, or you can let the body shop choose to source the parts from a reputable but more economical parts manufacturer. Remember that skilled labor comes at a premium, and paying for their expertise is an investment in your vehicle’s value and your safety.
Understanding the Estimate
Most detailed estimates are divided into the following sections:
Parts: OEM vs. Aftermarket
The good news is that, for most items, you have a choice between the original manufacturer or aftermarket parts made by other companies. There are many well-respected, high-quality manufacturers of aftermarket parts out there, so not choosing OEM isn’t necessarily settling for substandard components. In fact, some of the same factories that produce OEM parts sell the same parts under another name at a more economical price. However, one consideration is that you may not know what source the body shop chooses.
There are some advantages of OEM parts. One is that they are made specifically for your car, so there should be no problems with fit or quality. Another benefit is that they may help maintain your warranty. If your vehicle is new enough to still under warranty, you may be required to use only factory parts to maintain coverage. The only drawback with OEM parts is that they are typically more expensive. Regardless of OEM or aftermarket, remember that it is a common practice for shops to have a markup on parts over what they pay for them.
Labor Rates: Quality vs. Expense
We all know that cheaper isn’t necessarily better. However, does twice the price mean twice the quality? It can be very confusing to understand the relative value of the labor estimates. It may help to take a look at the factors that influence the rates.
Training, experience, specialized skills, technology, certifications, and expertise using specialized tools or techniques can all go into the pricing for labor. Those are all qualities that help ensure that your repair meets exceptional quality and safety standards, as well as conforms to manufacturer standards. You may be able to get a cheaper labor estimate somewhere else, but keep in mind the saying “buyer beware.” That cut-rate labor bill could end up costing you much more if you have to take your car back for continual problems after the repair.
If your estimate seems unusually labor-intensive, you may want to do some research. You have the option of getting more than one estimate. An internet search, while not definitive, can give you some information about how difficult it is to replace some parts or give you some examples of what other people have experienced with the same type of damage. You may discover that your estimate is very reasonable when you discover that they have to dismantle sections of your car to be able to perform the repair.
Fees: Legitimate vs. Markup
Fees are another category that can be very difficult to understand. Disposal fees are usually legitimate and, in some cases, may be mandated by laws and regulations. Tires, oil and batteries may have associated disposal fees related to environmental protection and safety legislation. Legitimate fees will be clearly stated and easily identified. If you see vague descriptions of shop fees with no explanation, it is your right to question them and even choose another shop if you aren’t satisfied with the answer.
Quality, Certified Auto Body Repair
At Tachoir Auto Body, we want to make this process as easy as possible. Our technicians will provide a clear, detailed, no-fee estimate with absolutely no obligation on your part. We will give you an honest, comprehensive assessment of your damage with an estimate of the cost and the time to perform the repairs. If you need help with your insurance claim, we can help with that, too. Contact us today for an appointment.
It Looks Better
The most easily apparent reason to fix a dent or scratch quickly is to get your car looking its best again. When you have a dent or noticeable scratch, it’s likely the first thing people will see when they see your car. By getting it repaired you can return your car to a like-new appearance again.
Unrepaired Problems Spread
While taking your car into a professional shop may seem like an expense you’d rather not take on right now, it can actually help to save you money in the long run. When you work with a professional who knows how to fix a large dent in a car door or other body damage you’ve experienced, they can ensure that your car is not only repaired aesthetically but also that any underlying damage is addressed. If left unattended, this damage can leave your car vulnerable to more severe damage and more expensive repairs in the future.
It Prevents Rusting
Another hidden risk if you neglect your dents and scratches repairs is rusting in your car’s body. The paint job on your car also serves as a sealant, to protect the underlying metal from water getting where it doesn’t belong. When your car is dented or scratched, this can create cracks in the seal where water can get in, leading to rusting that damages and mars the appearance of your car’s body.
Body Damage Can Be Dangerous
Even if you don’t know how to fix a large dent in a car door, it’s vital that you know the importance of finding someone who does who can help you and provide high-quality repairs. In addition to underlying damage from your dent possibly resulting in further damage, it can also lead to safety hazards by damaging critical components. By getting your car looked at by a professional to repair your damage you can ensure any risks are identified and repaired.
It Improves Your Resale Value
If you’re looking to sell your car soon, then getting the body damage on it repaired can help to earn you more money than it costs to repair it. In addition to allowing you to ask for more money because your car looks better, when posting it on listing sites you’re more likely to get views if there isn’t any visible body and paint damage.
If you’ve got a car with body and paint damage, find a professional auto body repair shop near Pittsburgh that knows how to fix a large dent in a car door or other body damage. The sooner you reach out the sooner you can get your car back to operating at its best.