How to Recognize an Honest Estimate

I was prompted to write this article after a tile repairman quoted me $600 to re-grout and seal my shower. I said, “Why is it so expensive?” He responded by telling me it would take him all day to complete. As it turned out, it only took him 3 hours…

At Airpark Collision Center, when we give you an estimate, we don’t just make up labor times. Most reputable auto body shops are equipped with an estimating computer program. This program tells us how long it should take an experienced technician to do repairs such as remove and reinstall a fender, door, hood, etc. It lists how many hours to prep, prime and paint that fender or hood. A good collision repair facility will give their customers a print out with the breakdown of parts, and repair times. You may want to compare the estimates and see if one company “accidentally” left something off so their estimate appears less expensive. This is especially important if you are paying for the repair yourself.

Did you know that sometimes a collision repair estimate is more expensive at a less qualified auto body shop? Recently, a customer came in with an estimate from a nationwide chain collision repair center. He asked us why the estimate from that company was more expensive? After comparing the two estimates we found that the other auto body shop was charging to paint the whole side of the car when the dent was only on the door. Airpark Collision Center only charged to paint the affected area. If the paint technician is experienced, he should be able to just paint the door and “blend” any nearby panels. The customer should not have to pay more, because the paint technician can’t match the paint color!

It is especially important to go to a reputable auto body repair shop when paying out of pocket. When we write an estimate at Airpark Collision Center we can only write what we see on the exterior. We will get down under the car or ask a technician to try to predict hidden damage. If we suspect damage underneath we will warn the customer. We really try to write as accurate of an estimate as possible. No one likes this kind of a surprise!

Hidden damage is often the case with large collision repair jobs, usually paid by insurance. Again, the insurance adjuster can only write what he sees on the exterior. If we remove a fender or bumper and see mechanical components damaged, we either have to photograph the damage or have the insurance adjuster come out to see the area of concern and add it to the estimate. This is frustrating because this slows the repair down, but it is important to make sure the mechanical and interior parts are repaired properly not just the vehicle’s exterior. When it comes time for collision repair, choose an auto body shop that you trust with a good reputation and stress.

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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