Chances are, if you’ve been in an accident or if your vehicle was vandalized or damaged by weather, you’ve been shopping around for repairs. You may have noticed that lots of the advice online recommends comparing estimates at different repair shops. But, if your car has the same damage, why would different repair shops give you different estimates? Which one should you trust?
There are a lot of reasons an estimate may vary from shop to shop, and understanding what they are can help you make an educated decision about which shop should repair your car.
The materials used can vary.
Different shops use different tools, different materials like paints, plastics, screws, welding, etc. and different hardware and software in their computer systems. All of these can add up to varied estimates.
Not all replacement parts are created equally.
There are several different options when it comes to materials used for replacement parts, and some are better than others, depending on your needs. The cost of these replacement parts varies too! Usually, your options are OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts, non-OEM parts, or recycled parts.
Different locations cost different amounts.
If you’re taking your car to the middle of town, rent prices or taxes or general overhead for your repair shop are likely to be higher, as is the cost of hiring employees who can afford to live nearby. Taking your car to a less expensive area means the shop will have lower overhead costs.
Experience and the need to get your business.
More experienced shops with loyal customers and an established reputation can afford to charge more because they have too many clients, while newer, less experienced or less established repair shops may need to take any business they can get at any price.
Estimate qualities aren’t always the same.
There are a lot of debates going on in the automotive industry at the moment about how to correctly estimate and perform repairs. Most of this is due to the rapid evolution of automotive technology, but the standard hasn’t yet been set. Some shops may perform a more thorough repair that requires them to dismantle your vehicle, some may have fancy equipment and use sensors, some may base estimates on photographs, and some may rely on insurance company regulations more than others. Some shops may tend to overestimate while others tend to underestimate. It’s always a good idea to ask questions so that you understand exactly how your estimate was done and how it could change as repairs start.