6 ways to save money on body repairs

If you’re in a car accident, one of the first things you’ll probably think about is whether you can get your car fixed and still drive it. Accidents can cause a lot of damage to the exterior of your car these days, so you’ll probably want to take it to a body repair shop. Repairs can be expensive, especially if your car insurance doesn’t cover them, but with the right plan, you can save money.

6 tips to save on body repairs

Body repair can be expensive, especially if you want your car to look pristine when repaired. But you can reduce the cost of repairs by playing smart and knowing what to ask for.

1. Get multiple quotes

The best thing you can do when trying to save money on an expensive purchase is to shop around, says Jason Vitug, founder of Phroogal, a financial blog. “The first place is not the right place until another review is given by a second store to help with comparisons.”

Get estimates from several body shops in your area and see which one is the cheapest. You can even ask a store near the lowest price to try and beat the best deal you get, which will drive the price down even further.

You’ll have the best chance of finding a good deal on a repair by getting multiple quotes. It can also be useful if you ever need to go back for additional maintenance, as you will already know which spot is inexpensive.

2. Ask for a labor and cost estimate

You must pay for both the materials used for repairs and the cost of labor. Some locations won’t give you a good estimate of the amount of labor required for a repair or the hourly labor rate.

Be sure to ask for this information when getting a quote. Even if you can’t get an exact number, it’s useful to know approximately how many hours the repair will take. Once you have a labor estimate, you can factor it into the total repair price estimate.

3. Provide your own parts

Most body shops have their own sources for getting new parts to repair cars. Chances are they’ll get a good price, but they might charge you more than they pay to increase their profit margin.

If you are willing to put in the effort, you can try to get the necessary parts on your own, especially if you know a little about your car and the repairs it needs. Even if you don’t have the exact knowledge, a quick chat with an independent mechanic or even an auto parts store can put you on the right track.

By purchasing the parts at a lower price than the mechanic will charge to procure them themselves, you can reduce the overall cost of the repair.

4. Make repairs quickly

If your car needs repairs, it’s important that the repairs are done quickly. If you leave the car as it is for a while, it can make the damage worse.

For example, if your car is dented or scratched, this exposes your car to rust and other wear and tear. If you make repairs quickly, you can avoid costly corrosion problems.

5. Check your warranty

While it’s not particularly common for warranties to cover bodily injury, you should still take a few minutes to check. This is especially true if you have purchased additional coverage from your dealership.

Even if the warranty only covers part of the repair bill, it’s still money you can keep in your pocket. It will take a bit of time, but read the fine print of your warranty before signing off on any major vehicle-related expenses.

6. Remember that spending more now could save you money later

As with everything, quality and reputation matter a lot when it comes to auto repairs. Although you should shop around for a good deal, if a quote is much lower than the competition, you might want to think about why that store is charging so much less.

If you get your car repaired by a shop that does shoddy work, you might find yourself bringing your car in for repairs to fix their mistakes. So make sure that the shop you go with does high quality work that won’t require frequent returns for additional maintenance.

What to do if you can’t pay for repairs

While ideally you can pay for repairs out of your emergency fund, life doesn’t always work out that way. If your car is badly damaged, waiting to save money on the repair bill may also not be an option.

If you can’t afford the repairs, you can try other options, including:

  • Negotiate a lower cost or payment agreement with the mechanic.
  • Barter with a friend or acquaintance who knows about cars.
  • Obtain a Personal loan if you have a good credit score of 670 or higher.
  • Use a 0% APR credit card offer if you can pay it off before the end of the introductory period.

The bottom line

If your car is damaged, you should try to get it repaired as soon as possible. However, that doesn’t mean you have to take it to the first store you see and pay what they charge. Taking the time to shop around and putting in the effort can save you a lot of money.

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