Why does it cost so much to fix a scratch?
Often times consumers in this industry are left thinking body shops are overcharging. A scratch only a few inches long can bring in a bill up to or beyond $1000. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion there taking you for a ride given the shop down the road only wants half. You can also bet your boat that someone’s even willing to do it for a quarter of that preferred high quality shop. So, when doing it properly how does the bill get so high??? That\’s why your reading isn\’t it? So let’s have a look at what\’s involved.
Teardown- all moldings, door handles,
bumpers, mirrors, antenna’s, lights, nameplates and anything else tight to
the panel being repaired needs to be removed & in the case of some
nameplates or moldings replaced all together. This is to allow for
thorough sanding and preparation of the panel and to eliminate the
chance if clear coat bridging a molding, paint peeling and keeps
overspray off the part all together.
Next comes repairing the scratch. In most cases it needs to be sanded
about 3-4 inches back, primed then block sanded straight. Sometimes
there can be a dent that you may not have seen but the repair
professional knew was there, it can add more time to this type of
repair. Once the scratch is fixed the entire panel needs to be sanded
and usually the next panel to the right and left require sanding for
color blending. Blending is a necessary step and if you would like to
learn more about it I suggest you look at my blog titled “why the shop
needs to blend color”.
So now the one scratch has turned into painting three panels. It may sound crazy but it’s what is required for an undetectable repair. Like I touched on earlier in regards to using a cheaper shop, it can be
done and maybe even look half descent but they are more often band aid
jobs not meant to last. Most of the time you don’t get a job that looks good, usually you will get a job where the clear is excessively textured, runs in the panel, the clear coat was blended (leads to fading edges) and sometimes much worse.
Now comes the actual painting itself. It’s a smaller part of the job. The actual spraying will likely be completed within about an hours time, the comes the drying which takes about 30 min on average. Once well dried it can be reassembled, re-decaled, cleaned up and ready for delivery. Sometimes a shop will wetsand the finish to remove dust nibs and other imperfections from the clear to give the best possible finish (another time consuming procedure). Some shops are more particular then others when it comes to polishing as it is purely cosmetic and often goes unnoticed by the customer.
Materials make up a very small portion of a repair invoice. Most of the repair costs are a result of the required procedures being quite labor intensive. The labor rates of a body shop at the time of this writing are anywhere from $30-$65 / hr. A mechanical shop is about $80-$140. The reality is a body shop is not making a fortune off of that scratch repair (when doing it properly), but don’t forget even if they are charging you through the roof there not necessarily doing it right. Take the time, educate yourself and ask the shop the right questions.
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