Car Damage Estimate: What the Pros Don’t Want You to Know

car damage estimate

Uh oh! You’ve been in car accident and now you need to get a car damage estimate. What are you gonna do? You know it’s going to cost a pretty penny, but it doesn’t have to be that bad.

We’re going to show you exactly how to get a good car repair quote.

How To Get a Decent Car Damage Estimate

You might need an estimate for two reasons: to initiate an insurance claim or to actually get some repairs done on your car. Those aren’t exactly the same thing. The car might be a total loss and you only need the car repair quote for the claim.

The Insurance Adjuster

This person determines how much the insurance company is willing to pay in your case. It’s important to remember that this person doesn’t work for you, and is motivated to please the insurance company. At the same time, they don’t want to rip people off because that will give the company a bad reputation.

When you meet the adjuster, be polite and confident. Take pictures yourself, and allow the adjuster to see that you are taking your own pictures. Be professional, and the person won’t even try to take advantage of you.

Be Aware of Your Deductible

Many people forget that there is a deductible on their automobile insurance. For a lot of collision insurance policies, this is in the $500-$1000 range. If the damage to the car is more or even close to this amount, it might be better not to even put in a claim.

Some insurance companies offer “accident forgiveness”. Some companies will automatically increase your rates, just for putting in a claim! Do some research and think things through before you make a move.

Ask for an Estimate Up Front

When you go to the shop to get a car repair estimate, ask them to tell you how much it’s going to cost before they start work. Some shops will charge you for a car accident estimate. That’s ok if they ask your permission first, but you don’t owe money just for asking.

Know Your Stuff

Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, and don’t talk to a car repair estimator without any knowledge about your vehicle. Look up the manufacturer’s user’s guide, and find a good auto repair manual. Learn the basics of how your car works in advance so that when the moment comes you won’t be left scratching your head.

Have a Go-To Guy

Mechanics have a bad reputation, but that’s probably because they deserve it! In many cases, the mechanic will only deal with a particular customer once. Sometimes they feel like they don’t have to protect their reputation since they’ll never see this particular customer again.

You should try to develop a relationship with a professional mechanic. Once you find a decent shop, tell them to their face that you’re going there because of the honest treatment and good work. You can have fair dealings with a car repair estimator, make that a priority.

You can check out your shop online before you go. Sites like usually have lots of reviews where other customers have posted their experiences. It’s hard to find a good shop, like JD Collision, but once you do, keep going back to them for superior service.

The Upsell

A lot of mechanics will try to upsell nearly every customer who comes in. Don’t take it personally. Understand that it’s their job to make money.

The upsell usually comes in the form of telling you that you need some kind of service, or that some part is worn out and is about to break. The fluids need to be changed. It’s also possible that these are things you really do need!

It’s also possible that you don’t need to do it TODAY. Stand your ground. Simply say, “OK, we’ll talk about that after we get through the work I came in for. For now, let’s just focus on what absolutely needs to be done today.”

Be polite and direct. Asking them to finish what you came in for is nothing that should offend anyone. If they are offended, you should take your business elsewhere.

Show Me the Damaged Parts

Ask if they can point out to you the damage on the part they are trying to replace. An honest mechanic will be able to point out what needs to be replaced and be able to explain it to you. Ask to see the parts they are putting in before it happens.

Lots of parts can be re-sold or recycled. Ask up front who gets to keep the old parts from your car. If they are valuable, you might be able to use that fact to negotiate a lower price.

Get an Itemized List of Charges, Parts, and Labor

When you get your car damage estimate, ask the car repair estimator to break it down into an itemized list for parts and service. Check to see if they are recommending expensive, name brand parts. Ask if they could use cheaper parts, or substitute a less well-known brand name.

You can look up the parts on the internet, and see what the market value is for those parts. Expect a markup – they do have to make a profit. Don’t allow them to charge you more than three times the price for a part you can buy yourself cheaper.

The more expensive the part, the less the markup should be. Expect a 600% markup on parts less than $10. You should only pay a small markup on anything that costs more than $1000.

If there is a huge difference in price, you can ask the shop if they would be willing to install a part from another supplier. Ask if they would be willing to look at the supplier you found with the discount price, and see if that gets them to negotiate. Be polite, but also be ready to walk out and find another mechanic.

Learn How to Fix It Yourself!

Knowledge is power. The best way to save money on a car damage estimate is to know how to repair the vehicle yourself.

This can be a daunting task, but how long exactly do you plan to be driving cars, the rest of your life? There is no reason to guess when it comes to getting a car damage estimate. Check out our blog for the best tips and tricks on how to be your own mechanic!