How an Auto Body Repair Estimate is Written


How an auto body repair estimate is written

So you go to the local bodyshop with your vehicle smacked up to find out it\’s gonna cost you $2000 to have it fixed. What you don\’t know is how that number is calculated. Well here is a simple breakdown on how the math may work.

Labor Time:

The labor times are set by each shop according to what they set. Labor rates will vary anywhere from $35/hr to over $100 depending on the type of labor, the shop writting the estimate and the location of the shop. The shop may combine Body & Refinish time under one rate or create two different rates for each operation. Other types of labor would include glass, mechanical or sublets. Mechanical is likely the highest rate your would come across. Although repair estimates are typically written in hrs, it may be easier to think in units instead. Often 1 hr really means it will take 0.5 to complete.

Body Repair time:

Body repair time would include dent repairs, disassemble and body panel replacements. An auto body repair estimate for a repairable dent would be inputed by the estimater. The hours written to repair the dent would be a judgement call by the estimater. The dent would be graded based on size, depth and location. An auto body repair estimate for a replacement panel would be calculated automatically based on book time assuming the shop is willing to accept the times (99% of the time this is how it\’s done). Larger shops will likely be using an automatic estimating program that will include times to remove the moldings, handles and anything else the estimater wants to include.

Refinish Time:

Refinish time will include the time it takes to prepare (sand & prime) and paint whatever panel is being repaired. It will also include blend time which is necessary to guarantee a 100% color match. Blend time usually is calculated at half the time necessary to paint a panel. (ie a panel takes 2 hrs to paint, it is charged 1 hr to blend). The reality is that a panel takes no longer to paint then to blend so it\’s a bit of an odd calculation that many shops have just accepted.

Material Charges:

Each shop will do this differently but many will do it based on the repair hrs. It may be set up to automatically charge a dollar amount based on the body and refinish hours or it could be determined differently. Usually it is based on hours but some shops come up with there own methods based on what they are using.

Miscellaneous Charges:

You will see a variety of charges that each shop decides on. They are usually broken down well and to the point on your repair estimate. You will likely see things such as “mask for overspray”, “Rustproofing”, “color sand and Polish”. Each shop charges there own way so it will vary from each facility.

Estimates are never written apples to apples so if your shopping for prices be sure to keep in mind that if a shop is not charging for something, your likely not receiving that required part of the repair process.


Here is a Sample Estimate from a Caravan, You can see the entire job in our projects section:






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