When shopping around for autobody repair services, customers will probably notice that each shop gives a different estimate—this is a perfectly normal and common occurrence. However, many often wonder why it happens: if the work is the same, then why does the job cost vary? There’s a lot of reasons why—location, material, and labor costs for a couple reasons—and it does not mean that the cheapest option is the best deal.

To help choose the best option, make sure the auto repair shops are being clear on their prices. If they’re not already, ask them to break the prices down by repair costs, cost of parts, and cost of labor. This will help you more clearly see where the difference in price appears.

If the price of labor is much higher, for example, it could be because they’re in a location that costs them more; a.k.a., higher property tax and cost of living for technicians. Also, each auto repair shop has different methods. Some policies might require technicians to take extra steps—usually to preserve a part of the car in some way—that adds time onto their services and results in higher prices.

Additionally, some shops will allow used parts.  Depending on the value of the vehicle, using used parts may be the best option to ensure to quality fix at an affordable price.

If one of the estimates does seems much lower than the others, it could also be a result of an incomplete inspection. When an estimator does a bad job of inspecting the car and listing repair needs, the cost will seem lower up front but end up being much higher than originally thought once the technicians start working on the car.

So, when it comes to repair prices, you get what you pay for.

When choosing the right repair shop, it’s important to do some research first. Ask a friend or family for a recommendation or look online for shops that have good reviews. There’s also the choice of using your insurance’s recommended list of repair shops, but it’s still a good idea to branch out—especially if you find a repair shop through a trusted referral. If you choose to get your repairs done with us at our Lake Elmo, MN location, and have questions on how the estimate has been broken down, we’re happy to answer any of your questions. We make sure our customers know exactly how and why they’re investing in their car’s long-term repairs.