That pole in the parking lot jumped out and snagged your fender while you were backing up. (Maybe that’s not exactly the way it happened.) You might not be a body man, but you know enough to know that your car needs a new fender.
You swing by your favorite auto body shop and get an estimate. The bottom line of the estimate prompts you to start going through your pockets looking for nitroglycerine pills…and you’ve never even taken nitroglycerine pills.
Here are a few reasons the estimate is so much higher than you thought it would be;
• More Damages – It does need a new fender. But the estimator also saw that your bumper cover was torn, the headlamp is cracked, the fender liner is squashed and your wheel is scraped. Experienced, professional estimators look beyond the obvious and attempt to access all of the damage. They know what to look for and what it will take to put your car back together before the pole got it.
• Blend Panels – Chances are that if the shop installed and painted just the new fender, it would stick out like a “sore thumb.” Their goal is to repair the car in a way that it won’t look like it’s been repaired. A shiny, newly-painted fender adjacent to the five year old paint on the door or the hood is a dead giveaway. To get around that, the shop will often estimate blending the paint into the adjacent panels to lessen the appearance of new paint next to old paint.
• R&Is – “R&I” stands for “remove and install.” Sometimes the shop will have to remove a part or parts to do the job properly. You’ll often see it on estimates where blending the paint is needed. On a door, the mirror, handle, lock cylinder, trim panel and other pieces should come off before blending. Very few parts can be “masked off” without leaving ugly tape edges that could eventually peel.
Keep in mind the possibility of hidden damages. It’s not unusual that after damaged parts are removed, additional damage is discovered. Even the best estimators can only really estimate what they can see.