Vehicle accidents are common occurrences on the road, but when one happens to you, it can feel like an unprecedented event.
If your vehicle is damaged, you’ll likely have questions about auto body repair costs and the process of getting your car fixed. This guide is intended to be your go-to resource for all things related to auto body repair costs. Read on for more specifics:
- What Factors Affect Auto Body Repair Costs?
- Estimated Costs for Common Auto Body Repairs
- How to Tell If It’s Safe to Drive Your Car After a Collision
- Are Auto Repair Costs Worth It?
- How to Pay for Vehicle Repairs
- 5 Tips to Find a Trustworthy Auto Body Repair Shop
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Factors Affect Auto Body Repair Costs?
- Auto body repair costs vary widely, and are determined by several factors:
- The Type of Vehicle: The make, model and year of the vehicle will affect repair costs. For example, a brand-new luxury foreign vehicle can have higher costs than an older domestic sedan.
- Type of Damage: Small doors scratches and dents will cost significantly less to repair than bumper or windshield replacements.
- Technology Features: The more advanced the technology in the vehicle, the more you can expect to pay for repairs.
- The Repair Shop: Dealerships tend to have higher costs than auto body shops. Labor rates also vary by location. AAA says that labor costs can range between $47 and $215 an hour.
Estimated Costs for Common Auto Body Repairs
To give you a rough idea of collision repair costs, LendingTree estimates the following costs. It’s important to note that exact costs will depend on many factors, so it’s important to get a professional estimate for your vehicle. The estimates below are intended to be a baseline of what you may be able to expect:
- Door Damage: $50 – $1,000
- Repairs for small dents and scratches can start at around $50, depending on the severity of the damage. More extensive damage could potentially cause issues with the technology behind the door, such as the wiring for the locks and windows. These repairs will be more expensive, with a full door replacement costing upwards of $800.
- Bumper Damage: $300 – $1,500+
- Similar to door damage, minor bumper dents and scratches can typically be repaired for a small price. Extensive damage — deep cracks, holes or if the bumper is falling off the vehicle — will likely require a full replacement. The more extensive the damage, the higher the repair costs.
Related Reading: How Much Does it Cost to Repair or Replace a Bumper?
- Windshield Damage: $250 – $1,000
- Small windshield or window cracks can be repaired for a fraction of the cost that it would take to replace the glass.
- Suspension Damage: $100 – $5,000+
- A vehicle’s suspension system is comprised of different parts and components, such as wheel alignment, ball joints and shock absorbers. Individually, repairs and replacements for these components can cost between $100 and $600. Insurance.com reports that full suspension replacement could cost up to $5,000.
- Paint Damage: $500 – $7,500
- Vehicle repairs are almost always finished with a paint job. The extent of the vehicle’s damage will determine how much repainting is required. For example, small scratches may just need a quick touchup, but a bumper replacement will need a full coat.
Other Cost Considerations
Auto insurance policies vary in terms of coverage and deductibles. Most insurance deductibles are around $500–$1,000, meaning the policy will cover repair costs after you pay that amount.
For minor repairs that are less than the deductible, it’s common for drivers to pay for repairs out-of-pocket without going through insurance. For example, if you accidentally hit a pole and your bumper just needed a small replacement part, this might only cost $200. Paying the repair shop directly avoids having to file a claim and eliminates the risk of your insurance premium increasing.
If your vehicle will be at the repair shop for a few days or weeks, you’ll probably need a rental vehicle. The daily rental fees will depend on your location and the type of vehicle you rent, but daily costs can range anywhere from $15–$150.
Not all insurance policies will cover the cost of a rental, which many drivers only realize once they are in a collision.
How to Tell If It’s Safe to Drive Your Car After a Collision
After a collision, whether minor or severe, the safety of all passengers involved is the most important concern. Call 911 if you or any others involved have signs of injury. Some injuries, like whiplash, aren’t immediately noticeable because of the body’s adrenaline response to the accident.
If the collision was minor and you want to continue driving your vehicle, there are a few precautions to take first:
- Make sure the mirrors are in place. You could be pulled over and ticketed if your mirrors are missing or severely damaged.
- Make sure the hood can lock. As you’re driving, the hood could pop up and impair your visibility.
- Check your headlights and tail lights. If they are damaged, you could have difficulty seeing the road in front of you, which could cause another accident.
- If your vehicle is leaking fluids, like coolant, antifreeze, oil or gas, this could be a sign of extensive internal damage. Your brakes might not work properly, or the engine could overheat, making it unsafe to continue driving the vehicle.
- Your wheel alignment could be off after a collision, and could cause your vehicle to swerve when driving. If even just one wheel is misaligned, you should not drive the vehicle.
Are Auto Repair Costs Worth It?
In certain situations, the cost to continue repairing an older vehicle can be more expensive than investing in a new one.
NerdWallet recommends exploring new vehicle options if:
- The repair costs for your current vehicle start to exceed its value; or
- The repair costs are higher than one year’s worth of monthly payments for a new vehicle
Keep in mind that a new vehicle will be more expensive to insure and register. Newer vehicles also tend to have higher initial repair costs than older models. However, newer vehicles tend to offer better fuel efficiency and come with warranties that can help you save on costs during the first few years of ownership.
How to Pay for Vehicle Repairs
If you don’t have auto insurance and the estimate for your vehicle repairs is higher than a quick out-of-pocket expense, you can explore other funding options:
- 0% Interest Credit Cards
- There are credit cards that offer 0% interest rates for a certain period of time, usually 12-24 months. However, after this period you will have to pay an annual percentage rate (APR).
- Payday Loans
- Also known as cash-advance loans, payday loans allow you to borrow money against your future paychecks. The APRs can be very high, even for a small loan, and there may be additional fees.
- Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)
- If you own a home, a HELOC loan can provide money for non-home related costs, such as college tuition, credit card payments and auto body repairs.
5 Tips to Find a Trustworthy Auto Body Repair Shop
1. Get Recommendations
There’s nothing more valuable than a word-of-mouth referral. For honest feedback, ask family, friends and coworkers where they take their vehicles for repairs.
2. Check if They Have Experience with Your Vehicle
Contact auto body repair shops to see if they have experience servicing your make and model of vehicle. Not every auto body repair shop may be able to service certain foreign or luxury vehicles.
3. Read Online Reviews
Online reviews will give you insights into what it’s like to work with the shop. Specifically, look at reviews for services that you expect you may need.
4. Check Their Work Guarantees
Does the shop stand behind their work? If not, it could be a red flag. The best repair shops will guarantee their work for the lifetime of the vehicle.
5. Check Their Certifications
Reputable certifications — like I-CAR Gold Class, Safety and Pollution Prevention (S/P2), BASF and Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) — are signs that the shop invests in the latest tools and equipment to provide the highest quality repairs. Certifications also show that the shop employees are up to date with the latest training.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should I pay for auto repairs out of pocket or submit a claim?
A: If your vehicle damage is minor and the cost of repairs is less than your deductible, you may want to consider paying out of pocket instead of filing a claim that could raise your insurance premium. However, if you don’t report damage to your insurance or if internal damage is overlooked, your insurance provider could refuse to cover further repairs.
Q: How do auto body repair shops estimate the cost of repairs?
A: Most shops offer free estimates, which is a chance for a professional estimator to assess the damage to your vehicle. They will ask you about the collision, look at cosmetic damage and determine if there could be unseen internal damage. Then they will put together an initial estimate that includes the cost of labor, materials and parts, and send it to your insurance company for approval.
Q: What will my insurance cover?
A: There are a few different types of coverage. Collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle, regardless of who was at fault. Liability insurance covers damage to the other driver’s vehicle. Comprehensive insurance covers damage from non-collision related incidents such as vandalism, theft, natural disasters and weather conditions.