Don’t You Know When a Car is Going to be Complete?

How Long Does Collision Repair Take?

Customers usually ask at the time of estimate or drop off, “how many days will you need to repair?” This is an easy question to answer if it just involved fixing the vehicle. However, other factors contribute to the timeline:

  • Is this an insurance claim?
  • Are parts needed?
  • Besides the visual damage, do mechanical or electrical system problems exist?

Paying out of pocket

If you are a customer paying out of pocket and it’s a simple repair, it is easy to give a completion date. If your vehicle’s repair requires parts, a Scottsdale collision repair facility may pre-order parts and then schedule the vehicle for drop-off once parts arrive.

Insurance claim

If the vehicle’s collision repair involves insurance or is a major auto body repair, it is much harder to give an estimated completion date. An estimate will list how many body and paint labor hours are expected. Unfortunately, the amount of time listed does not include waiting for parts, waiting for insurance adjusters to approve any additional damage, paint drying (even though it’s baked on), etc. Recent issues of worker shortage and supply chain problems make calculating an estimated completion date even more challenging for every Scottsdale collision repair shop.

Why does collision repair take so long? 

The damaged area rarely looks serious to most customers and they are often surprised by the cost and length of repair. Many times a vehicle owner will only see the dent or scratch, but not notice the damage on the surrounding panels or the wheels. In addition to the vehicle’s body, an alignment may be required or onboard sensors may have been shaken upon impact. For a complete auto body repair, everything needs addressing.

What is ECD or ETA?

You may hear the acronym ECD or ETA from your adjuster or estimator.

  • ECD-Estimated completion date
  • ETA-Estimated time of arrival (usually for parts)

Keep in mind these are estimated dates. Sometimes parts don’t arrive on schedule and other times collision repairs take longer because another problem may surface. For example, maybe a part came in damaged, or perhaps the diagnostic scan revealed an electrical issue. When something like this occurs, a reputable collision repair facility will address these issues even though it may mean delaying the estimated completion date.

How does the collision repair process work?

One of the first stages of the process is the original estimate. This estimate, whether written by the Scottsdale auto body repair shop or the insurance company only includes exterior damage. Since 2020, most insurance adjusters are writing estimates based off photos, but that is another topic. Keep in mind this estimate is just a preliminary estimate.

When the vehicle is dropped off, the technician will begin the disassembly process. Once the exterior panels are removed, the technician will report to the repair planner/estimator what needs repair or replacement. These are items not on the original estimate and will require approval from either the insurance company (usually 2-3 days) or the customer paying out of pocket. This is called a supplement. The vehicle is on “hold” until approval. Once the Scottsdale collision repair facility has the green light, additional parts are ordered and technician labor will begin again.

Auto body repair work continues and most parts that require paint are removed from the vehicle. (Painting parts off the vehicle reduces peeling.) Once auto body work is completed, the car or parts move to the refinish department.

The Refinish (paint) department will mask, sand, prime, apply color, and clear coat depending on the auto body repair. Each part or vehicle is baked in a paint booth. Once the baking cycle ends, the paint is still too soft to handle. Once dry, the refinish department will release the part or vehicle to a body technician.

This technician will begin the reassembly process. This is not a quick or easy process, they are literally rebuilding part of the vehicle.

Once the vehicle is fully assembled, it may need an alignment or other repair services.

Exterior/interior clean is next. This is not a “detail” but a pretty nice complimentary car wash. The exterior is hand washed and the interior is dusted and vacuumed.

Diagnostic scan is one of the final steps in the Scottsdale collision repair process. Most cars are scanned to ensure all sensors and the electrical system is operating as expected.

Quality check and test drive is the final step. The vehicle is checked for quality body and paintwork. The test drive is the last step before the customer is called for vehicle pick up.

The average driver is involved in an accident once every ten years and unfamiliar with the collision repair process. There are many steps involved and a quality Scottsdale collision repair facility will not skip steps to speed up the repair. Typically, professional auto body repair shops follow specific industry or OEM procedures and offer a lifetime workmanship warranty.

Airpark Collision Center opened in 2006 and has a reputation for excellent customer service and quality repairs. Please stop in for an estimate or click here!


Airpark Collision Center

Tina Small has been part of the Airpark Collision Center team since 2006. Working directly with customers, her goal is to share frequent customer questions, and proper methods of collision repair.

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