When you encounter vehicle problems, your first thoughts will likely be whether you can get your car fixed and keep driving. From accidents to oil changes, vehicle maintenance can cost as much as $9,000, according to the AAA, and is usually unavoidable. Putting money into vehicle maintenance makes it last longer — which is especially important when cars are on the road an average of 12.2 years, according to CNET, a Red Ventures brand.
However, repairs can be expensive, especially with high inflation and lingering supply chain issues increasing costs. Luckily, with the right plan, you can save some money on your next visit to the body shop.
Supply Chain Considerations 2022
“Supply chain issues and unavailability of certain parts affect not only new car manufacturers, but also vehicle service and repair,” said Brian Moody, Editor-in-Chief at Autotrader. Primarily caused by a decrease in supply and an increase in demand, drivers are likely to face higher costs in the workshop.
Moody explains that parts may not be available, causing delays. Additionally, parts are selling for more money as competition and the cost of shipping parts increases.
6 tips to save money on body repairs
Body repairs can be expensive, especially when you want your car to look immaculate. But you can reduce repair costs by being smart and knowing what to ask. If you have high prices in mind, consider these tips to save money.
1. Get multiple estimates
Your best chance of getting a good deal on a repair is to get multiple estimates. This can also be helpful if you ever need to return for additional maintenance, since you already know which places are inexpensive and have the level of service you’re looking for.
To get the best price for a service or repair, it’s a good idea to get three to four quotes, Moody recommends. “It can also help you realize that even though a price may seem high, all stores may be charging it due to parts and/or labor shortages,” says Moody.
Bank rate tip
Use online resources like the Kelley Blue Book Service Advisor to compare repair prices in your area before you start shopping.
2. Ask for an estimate of labor and costs
You must pay for both the materials used in the repair and the cost of labor. Some places won’t give you a good estimate of the labor required for a repair or the hourly labor rate.
Make sure you ask for this information when you receive an offer. While you can’t get an exact number, it helps to know approximately how many hours the repair will take. Once you have a labor estimate, you can factor that into the full estimate for the repair.
3. Provide your own parts
Most auto body shops have their own sources for getting new parts to repair cars. But these can cost more — that’s because the stores can add a profit margin. Putting in the extra effort and finding your own parts can be worth the work, but it’s not without risk, says Moody.
“Buying your own parts is best for those who have a specialty car or who can and want to do the work themselves,” says Moody. By taking your time and making sure you have the right parts, you don’t have to worry about returns — or worse, put you and your passengers at risk.
4. Consider independent and franchise stores
Not only is it important to compare a few estimates, but it’s best to consider different types of shop options. “It used to be an independent shop which was the only way to do good business. Today, independent stores offer great value, but franchises are becoming more competitive,” says Moody.
Many retailers also offer special benefits via mailer and online coupons, as well as regional special offers that drivers in the area often need. Don’t write off a dealership for future repairs, especially if you have a remaining vehicle warranty.
5. Get repairs done quickly
When your car needs repairs, it’s important that the repairs are done quickly. Leaving the car for a while can make the damage worse.
For example, if your car is dented or scratched, it is subject to rust and other wear and tear. Getting the repairs done quickly can prevent costly corrosion problems.
6. Form a relationship with a body shop
“A business (or really a service business) is more likely to treat you well if it knows you’ll come back,” Moody explains. This treatment offers some advantages, such as priority over other drivers and possible additional discounts.
Having an expert on your side also helps determine which repairs are most important, especially when more than one repair is required.
Spending more now can save you money in the future
As with anything, quality and reputation play a big part in auto repair. While you might want to shop around for a good deal, you might want to consider why this shop charges so much less when an offer is far lower than the competition.
If you have your car repaired by a garage that does substandard work, you may end up taking your car back for repairs to fix their faults. So make sure the business you’re dealing with does quality work that doesn’t require frequent returns for extra maintenance.
Bank rate tip
When shopping for your next car, consider how maintenance costs can add up. Even minor differences in a vehicle’s equipment can save money on future repairs.
The final result
If your car is damaged, you should try to get it repaired as soon as possible. However, higher than usual prices mean you shouldn’t make it to the first store you see and pay whatever they ask. If you take the time to look around and put in some effort, you can save a lot of money.