According to Webster’s Dictionary, to estimate means to generally calculate the expected price. The itemized estimate handed to car owners requesting repairs is an approximation of the total cost.

Transitive verb: “to produce a statement of the approximate cost of;” “roughly calculate or judge the value, number, quantity, or extent of.”

Noun: “a rough or approximate calculation: a numerical value obtained from a statistical sample and assigned to a population parameter;” “a statement of the cost of work to be done.”

Synonyms: Calculate roughly, approximate, guess. Appraisal, assessment, estimation, evaluation.

The Definition of an Auto Repair Estimate

Estimates and the process of planning auto repair work can be confusing. We get a lot of questions from customers about auto repair estimates and what the various line items mean. That’s why we want to take a moment to break down the estimating procedure and what it includes.

What is the Purpose of a Car Repair Estimate?

In our industry, the meaning of an auto repair estimate is just the starting point for planning repair work. Unlike a comprehensive ‘repair plan’ which is performed after disassembly of the damaged vehicle, a quote doesn’t usually represent the final price for the work needed.

Only when the car is taken apart will the auto body shop have a truly accurate assessment of the damage. At that point, they will have a concrete idea of how long repairs will take and the specific parts that need to be ordered. The estimate serves to inform car owners of the parts and labor likely needed to fix it properly.

When the repair shop disassembles the vehicle and understands better the severity of the damage, they may find that additional work will be required. At Badell’s, we work with the insurance company to get the claim completed and get the repair done well.

How Insurance Supplements Work

When an estimate is written, we cannot guess or make assumptions. In an original estimate, we can only write of what we see. That’s why there is usually a supplement. Another cause of supplements is the high rate of plastic parts being used on vehicles nowadays. Manufacturers are not considering the potential for things to be taken apart and reused. Instead, they are mostly focused on getting things off the assembly line, cheaply and quickly.

If a supplement is needed, the auto body shop will send a supplement request to the car insurance company. The repair shop must put the work on hold until the supplement is approved. This usually takes anywhere from two days to a week. An insurance adjuster may need to inspect the car before giving the ‘go ahead.’

After the insurance company approves the supplement request, any necessary parts can be ordered. The repair shop may need to wait a few days for the additional parts to arrive before completing the work.

The Difference Between an Auto Repair Estimate and the Bill

The initial payment, made when you accept a repair estimate, is based on the quoted amount. This may not be the final cost of the parts and labor involved in the repair. The information included with the initial payment receipt explains that supplements may be necessary. If additional damage is found during the repair process, the shop will contact the insurance company to get approval for any supplemental charges before completing the job.

“We make supplemental insurance requests every day, on over 85% of our jobs,” says Brandon Badell, owner of Badell’s Collision. “It’s important for customers to understand that any insurance estimate or body shop estimate is an educated ‘best guess’. We work really hard to avoid unpleasant surprises, but we also ensure that the job is done right.”


What You Want to Know about Auto Repair Estimates

Should I get multiple auto repair estimates?

No. We recommend that you find a professional shop with experienced personnel and trust them to do the estimate – and the repair work – right. 
If you ask around, it’s true that you will probably see a difference in the prices quoted for auto body repair, fixing dents, and car painting. And this price gap tends to get bigger as the price of the work increases. But, it’s also true the cheapest estimate may not be the best one. The total estimated price doesn’t tell the whole story. Here’ are three valid reason’s why: 
Repair estimates are notoriously inaccurate at predicting the final cost of fixing a car. This is because initial estimates are made without disassembling the vehicle to fully inspect the damage.  
One shop might provide you with an auto repair quote for the cost of fixing a part. Another repair shop might tell you the cost of replacing it entirely. These are not comparable services
Auto repairs aren’t just about parts and labor. A good repair estimate also factors in the quality of the paint and parts used, as well as the amount of time needed to do the job well – the first time.
Finally, cheaper doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your car.  

Is it possible to get car repair quotes online?

Yes, although an online estimate is not an official estimate and is only meant to provide you with a quick “ball park” repair cost based on the information you have provided. In our experience, seeing the damage and being able to inspect the car help produce more accurate car repair quotes.
At Badell’s, we make the estimate process as quick and easy as possible by providing an online form for car owners to give us the basic information we need to send them a quick quote.

How can I get a car repair estimate?

Call the repair shop, fill out their estimate form online, or take your car in. Explain what issues you’re having with the vehicle. Some repair shops may offer free diagnostic services to determine what is wrong before providing an estimate.

Auto Repair Estimates & Car Repairs Done Right

An auto repair estimate will give you a general idea of what will be needed to fix the vehicle and how long it will need to stay at the shop. However, until the technicians start working on their car, there is no way to accurately predict the true cost of the repair. Once body panels have been taken off and damaged parts are removed, then your body shop may inform you of supplemental costs. Additional parts or labor, which were unexpected when the estimate was made, are known as supplementals. This is standard operating procedure in this industry.  

Because estimates are based on an initial assessment of the car damage, it’s also a reflection of the repair shop’s expertise. Don’t waste time and energy running around town to get more than one quote for car repair work. It’s best to choose a reliable auto repair shop that offers a guarantee for their work and let the experienced technicians work up a detailed estimate. Then, that shop can help you file a car insurance claim and work through the claims process. 

Trust Badell’s Collision to prepare a fair estimate and repair your car right. We have worked to uphold the Gold Standard over the years. Our shop will work with your car insurance. Call us or  request an estimate today.

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