Estimated Costs for 5 Common Auto Body Repairs

a paint technician buffing the paint on a recent auto body repair
Even Basic Auto Body Repairs are Very Involved. http://www.gettyimages.com/license/482150733

Getting around seems to get more and more expensive, as traffic worsens, vehicles age and become less-efficient, and maintenance and repair costs escalate. No matter how carefully you drive, though, there’s one thing that’s almost guaranteed to put a dent in your budget: auto body repairs. From simple paint chips and windshield stars to scratches, dented doors and bumpers, and total-loss damages, even auto body repairs that don't seem extensive can carry surprising costs. Here are a few common auto body repairs and average repair costs to get your car looking like new again.

Broken Windshield – $50 to $900

closeup of a windshield star
Small Windshield Stars Could be Repairable, but Cracks and Other Damage Might Require Windshield Replacement. http://www.gettyimages.com/license/173553641

As strong as windshields are – they’re an integral part of the “safety cell” – they are brittle. Anything from pebbles to sports equipment to trees can cause windshield damage. Depending on the severity of the damage, it might be repairable. Stone chips and stars might be repairable for just $50 per chip. An experienced auto-glass technician might be able to stop a small crack in its tracks for around $100. Large and complex cracks or pitting simply can’t be repaired or refinished, which will require windshield replacement, ranging from $200 to $900.

Smashed Bumper – $400 to $1,500

image of rear plastic bumper cover damage
This Rear Bumper Cover Can Probably be Repaired for under $500. http://www.gettyimages.com/license/168344842

To save weight, increase fuel economy, improve aerodynamics, and enhance pedestrian safety, most vehicles have switched from exposed metal bumpers to plastic bumper covers. They look good, but are delicate, and even a 1 mph crunch or 5 mph “love tap” can dent or crack the bumper cover, even push it out of its mounting points. Many modern bumper covers include sensor technology, headlight washers, or intake or grille elements, so removal and installation adds more time and labor.

If the damage is slight, an auto body technician might be able to repair and refinish it for around $400. Severe damage will require replacement and refinishing, if the bumper cover isn’t pre-painted, which could cost up to $1,500 and beyond. 

Paint Chips and Scratches – $50 to $1,500

image of scratched paint on the hood of a car
This Paint Scratch Might be Quickly Repaired On Your Own. http://www.gettyimages.com/license/171311283

Have you ever seen paint scratches caused by errant shopping carts or disgruntled individuals? Depending on where you live and park, this might be a common occurrence, some people even finding unflattering epitaphs or non-Disney language carved into the paint. Special paints, such as pearl paints or luxury finishes, will require extensive work, paint matching, and blending to get it looking just right.

Depending on the depth of the scratches, and if there are dents and creases associated with them, repairing paint scratches could range from quick DIY repair – alcohol and a paint touch-up pen typically cost under $50 – to full professional refinishing. It really depends on the complexity of your car’s finish and how enthusiastic the scratches were made, or how deep and extensive they are. Paint chips, caused by stones or debris on the highway, usually cost less than $150, again depending on the depth of the damage and type of paint and finish.

Door Dents and Fender Dings - $50 to $150

image of dented rear fender
This Fender Dent Can Probably be Repaired in Under an Hour and Won't Require Refinishing. http://www.gettyimages.com/license/157743591

Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) has certainly been a boon to the auto body repair industry, and can significantly reduce costs associated with certain repairs. If the back of the body panel can be accessed, usually limited to fenders, doors, hood, and roof, and the paint is not cracked or missing, PDR repairs can take care of dents and dings comparatively inexpensively. The nice thing is, because the paint is not affected, PDR is also a relatively quick repair. Expect to pay between $50 and $150 for typical dents and dings. You can save money on some dent repairs if you do it yourself.

Other Costs to Consider – Thousands

image of young woman lamenting a minor auto collision
Stress is One of the Unseen Costs Associated with Auto Body Repair. http://www.gettyimages.com/license/155394732

While considering these costs might be daunting, don’t forget to consider other hidden costs associated with more auto body repairs.

  • Most comprehensive and collision insurance policies come with a deductible, which is the amount the driver pays before the insurance company kicks in any funds. The average insurance policy carries a $500 deductible, but this can range from $0 to $1,000, or more.
  • If you will be without your car for days or weeks while its in the shop, you’ll need to find another way to get around. Car rentals are a great option, but they can cost anywhere from $45 to over $120 per day, depending on rental car class. Some insurance policies do cover this cost, after the deductible, of course.
  • Getting into a crash could increase your insurance premiums, which could cost you significantly more over time. Fortunately, more insurance companies won’t increase your premiums unless you’re at fault in a collision.
  • Finally, the stress of getting into an accident or having your vehicle in the shop can affect job performance, home life, even your health! Some auto body repairs could take weeks, but keeping a good attitude during this time period can go a long way toward maintaining your sanity.

Why is Auto Body Repair so Expensive?

image of damaged front end of a car
There's a Lot Going on Here, and the Costs of this Auto Body Repair May Not be Obvious. http://www.gettyimages.com/license/184924290

It does one good to note that these auto body repair cost estimates are only a basic guide – individual cases can vary widely, depending on several factors. As with any other specialty, auto body repair requires special tools and equipment and extensive training. Auto body repair takes time and, with labor costs ranging between $75 and $150 per hour, it's easy to see how just labor can significantly inflate the cost of auto body repair.

Luxury cars are always more expensive to repair with pricier parts and additional technology and finishing processes. Crash sensors, parking sensors, and other technology might be damaged in even minor accidents, which drives up the price of parts. Also, extensive repairs aren’t always obvious from outward appearances. Even a good-faith best-estimate might need to be adjusted, if the technician finds hidden damage on pulling body panels or other covers.

One of the best things you can do is consider getting at least one more second opinion, particularly if you must pay out-of-pocket – in some cases, you might even be able to do the repair yourself. Insurance companies cannot require you to have your vehicle repaired at a specific shop, so feel free to shop around. A good place to start is an online estimator tool, such as Instant Estimator or Fleet Services Group Online Bodyshop Estimating Tool.

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Jerew, Benjamin. "Estimated Costs for 5 Common Auto Body Repairs." ThoughtCo, Nov. 27, 2017, thoughtco.com/estimated-costs-for-common-auto-body-repairs-4154945. Jerew, Benjamin. (2017, November 27). Estimated Costs for 5 Common Auto Body Repairs. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/estimated-costs-for-common-auto-body-repairs-4154945 Jerew, Benjamin. "Estimated Costs for 5 Common Auto Body Repairs." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/estimated-costs-for-common-auto-body-repairs-4154945 (accessed December 12, 2017).