If you’re looking for auto collision repair services, chances are you’re comparing options to find the best offer. The problem is, looking at the differences in repair quotes can be frustrating and confusing.

For car owners who’ve taken their vehicle to multiple shops, the numbers given can vary pretty wildly. If you’re one of those, you’ll likely start asking, “How did these shops come up with these costs?”

What You Need to Know about Estimates

An important thing to take note of is that estimates should be considered a repair blueprint, not a final or exact number. It only covers what the technician inspecting the car can immediately see. There are even states that require estimators to only consider the damage they notice when inspecting a vehicle. Once work begins on your car, the estimate may change as more damage is found.

One other thing to remember is that the estimate depends on how the estimator did his work. If the estimator did a poor job checking your car, the costs may be lower than the final cost of auto collision repair. That’s why you need to make sure you’re working with a reputable auto body repair shop, so you won’t worry about a surprising bill ever again.

Why Do Estimates Vary?

Why Do Auto Collision Repair Quotes Vary Between Shops?Repair quotes vary between shops because each shop has a different set of policies in terms of their auto collision repair process. The estimator must take into account the time needed to finish the repair before giving you a quote.

For instance, trustworthy shops mostly require technicians to remove door handles, mirrors, and lamps prior to painting a car. Although this takes more time than just masking off those areas, it will prevent any peeling that may occur in the future. In addition, OEM guidelines dictate that panels should be free of exterior trim pieces  to make sure the clear coat is properly applied, to keep it from peeling years later.

Here are other reasons that may cause different repair quotes:

Varying Materials

Not all shops use the same tools. They use different materials like screws, plastics, paints, and so on. They also have different software and hardware for their computer systems, which could affect how they would charge you. All of these factors can lead to varied estimates.

Replacement Parts

There are many options when it comes to replacement parts for your car. Some are higher in quality and price, while others are more affordable. Your choices are usually recycled parts, OEM parts, and non-OEM parts.

Different Locations = Different Costs

The location of your auto body repair shop affects their estimate as well. If you are taking your car to the middle of the town, expect the rates to be higher than getting services from a less expensive area.


Shops with many years of experience have an established reputation within the industry. They also have lots of loyal customers, which means they can afford to charge more than the other shops.

You Get What You Pay For

When selecting an auto collision repair shop, always remember the saying, “You get what you pay for.” There are shops that will give you a cheap estimate, only to give you shoddy work, or suddenly increase the estimate once the repair begins.

Remember to ask your estimator questions about the shop’s procedures. Learn about their policies so you can make an informed decision and choose a high-quality shop for your car.

Don’t forget to check whether or not the shop is registered with the Bureau of Automotive Repair, or B.A.R, and is ICAR certified. If you don’t, you’re risking your vehicle’s value and how safe it is, given how many auto collision repair shops there are that operate without the proper certification and training.