How To Save Money On Automotive Body Work

By Zach Bowman, DriverSide Contributing Editor  
It doesn’t get much worse than getting in a fender bender or an accident. Aside from the legal ramifications if you’re found to be at fault, there’s the sizable cost of getting your vehicle repaired. The good news is that if you’re careful, you may be able to shave hundreds of dollars off of the cost to fix your banged-up ride. How? Here are DriverSide’s tips on how to save money on bodywork.

Some drivers may recoil at the thought of claiming a bump on their insurance, but go ahead and see if the damage would be covered by your policy. You have insurance to cover damage just like this, so it makes no sense to have a policy and then pay for the repairs out of pocket. If you don’t have a deductable, the work probably won’t cost you a dime. If you do, you pay your portion of the bill and the insurance covers the rest.

Paintless Dent Removal
It doesn’t work in every case, but depending on the damage, you may be able to fix the problem with paintless dent removal. Instead of all-new sheet metal, paintless dent removal works the original metal without marring your vehicle’s surface. The service comes to you and can usually be done in under an hour. The cost varies depending on the job, but most services start at $50. Considering a mild bump could run you over $500, that’s not too bad of a deal.

Shop Around
If the damage isn’t life or death, take your time and shop around. There should be at least a few body repair shops in your area, so give them a call and ask for a quote. Most of the time, they’re free, and a good quote will give you a good idea as to what the work will cost you in the end.

Salvage Parts
Ask your body shop if it’s possible to use salvage parts to fix the damage. Salvage parts aren’t sold unless they’re in great condition, so you don’t have to worry about the standard of quality. Most of the time they’re factory equipment - that means you’re guaranteed they’ll fit correctly. A salvage fender may cost just $20 where its brand new replacement may cost over $100 for the sheet metal alone, not including paint. 

Aftermarket Parts
If you have an older vehicle, you might want to consider aftermarket body panels. There are a few drawbacks, namely in the fitment area, but they tend to be much cheaper than brand new factory examples. Remember that $100 fender we were talking about earlier? A primed aftermarket version may be closer to $60 depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

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