Sometimes we will get a customer at any one of our 7 locations here in Pennsylvania asking us the same question: “why is this accident repair so expensive” after viewing their estimate. This can be true of customers who haven’t had to deal with collision repair in a few years, especially since there have been significant changes in the auto repair world. The reality is our shop’s labor rates have been held pretty low based on Insurance company relationships for many years. We are not anywhere near the rates that your local mechanic charges. The elements that are driving repair costs these days are the parts, the repair procedures required of new cars, and the technology built into the front side and rear of today’s cars.
Probably the largest impact on auto repair costs in the last couple of years has been the rise of ADAS systems in even the most basic models from nearly any manufacturer. ADAS stands for Advanced Driver Assistance System, and includes systems such as forward collision warning, parking assist, auto brake technology, lane departure and more. All of these systems incur charges to repair, replace, and re-calibrate that you didn’t see even as far back as just five years ago.
Additionally, more and more manufacturers are recommending very specific procedures for fixing cars that are specific to the year, make, model, and even the month of production of your vehicle. This requires technician training, special tools, and even vehicle specific materials such as sealants, body cavity wax, and foams. When a shop like ours has OEM certifications with a brand, we are only allowed to use OEM parts as requirements for maintaining our OEM certifications. In fact, in the future, there is the talk of limiting parts supply to auto repair shops like ours who are OEM certified by brand. An expensive repair for a new vehicle is simply the new norm in the auto repair industry. It is no longer uncommon for an average front end hit or a sideswipe to cost $15,000 or more to repair.
We have to run pre and post repair scans now of all of your vehicle’s sensors before we can release the car back to you. The tools that auto body repair shops use even to scan a car after a repair can run a few thousand dollars. However, even with the newest technology and equipment, it still takes an experienced and up-to-date technician who can accurately diagnose a repair, devise a repair plan and execute a safe repair on your vehicle. A full-service auto repair shop will have spent hundreds of thousands just on tools and equipment and training to be capable of performing any type of repair.
You’re probably having flashbacks to 10 years ago when a technician could perform bodywork with a variety of tools. Now, these same repairs require a specific skill set that without it, could cause more harm than good to the car. The cost of the additional training and education increases the value of the technician. All of our technicians are Gold Class I-Car certified and always follow OEM procedures to make sure your vehicle is repaired exactly as the manufacturer tells us to.
There may be instances where your shop will point out an insurance company is recommending the use of an aftermarket part or even a junkyard part. However, your repair shop insists that an OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer part is the only one that should be used (like a wheel, for example). In some cases, the body shop may recommend paying the difference between aftermarket, reconditioned, or OEM parts out of pocket, but this recommendation is usually in your best interest.
Finally, we have ADAS recalibrations at each one of our 7 different locations. Depending on the procedure, your car may need to be taken to the dealership in order to have a recalibration performed. The sensors reset and calibration process can be very involved, and labor intensive, and we will cover that in another blog. But the dealership sublet may be a charge in your repair bill and is another line item that wasn’t on estimates a decade ago.
You want to go to an auto repair shop that is knowledgeable on the latest trends in collision repair, follows OEM procedures, and puts your safety as the top priority. We at 3D Collision Centers aren’t looking to make more money that is unfair to you. We will work with your Insurance to make sure you are getting the safest and best repair for your vehicle. We have 7 different locations across Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties.
To contact us at any of our locations, click here. We look forward to hearing from you!