Whether it’s a small scratch or a cavernous dent, damage to your vehicle can cost a pretty penny. Worse yet, there’s really no way to know how expensive it will be, since auto body repair varies from places to place. With that said, there are steps you can take that should save you some coin. Here are a handful of them.
1. Check Labor Rates
Even if they work in the same garage, collision repair specialists typically make more than mechanics or service technicians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, their average salary is about $20 an hour. But because experience and location play a big role in compensation, hourly wages can range between $10 and $60 an hour. And because the cost of labor is often the largest expense in any auto body repair job, it behooves you to investigate labor rates in advance. You might find that one garage charges significantly more because they employ more experienced collision repair professionals. And while it may be worth it to pay extra if you have a complicated job, when the damage is relatively minor, it’s probably best to shop around for a lower rate.
2. Ask About Paintless Repair
Although sanding, body filler, and repainting are often needed to address big dents, smaller ones can sometimes be fixed without those costly procedures. As long as the paint surface is intact, dents can often be pushed or pulled out. And because of the substantial cost savings, auto insurance companies are often willing to waive the deductible when paintless fixes are an option.
3. Get Several Estimates
No matter how honest your mechanic may be, you should always get more than one estimate for auto body repair. Once again, different shops have different labor rates, which will inevitably affect the estimate. They may also charge slightly different prices for replacement parts. For these reasons, it is always advisable to get at least three estimates from local shops. You can even request quotes from shops that are not in your immediate area on the Internet. If the savings are significant, it might be worth taking a ride.
4. Read Online Reviews
Just like hotels and restaurants, people write reviews about auto body shops. When reading these personal accounts from past customers, it is important to pay attention to their overall experience. Did they find the staff friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable? How about the work? Was it completed on time and to their satisfaction for a reasonable fee? If the shop seems promising based on the reviews, you should schedule an estimate.
5. Ask About Replacement Parts
Generally speaking, an auto body shop has three options when it comes to replacement parts. They can procure new, used, or aftermarket parts. Because aftermarket versions are often cheap imitations, they should be avoided. To save money, however, you may want to search for a shop that uses pre-owned parts. Whether they get them at a junkyard or from another supplier, these replacements are obviously less expensive than new ones.
Follow these simple tips to save big bucks on auto body repair in your area.