Is there such a thing as cheap collision repair in Wichita, KS?
When you have an auto accident, no matter how it looks, it never feels “minor,” but in the collision repair business, there are two categories of damage: “major collision” and “minor collision.” The “major” category includes body damage that extends to the engine and/or frame of the vehicle, which can get very pricey—sometimes expensive enough to declare the vehicle totaled (too expensive to repair). Minor collision repair covers everything else, typically costing between $200 and $2,000—often at the low end of that spectrum. This article will help you identify the extent of damage to your vehicle and understand the differences between major and minor collision shops. If your vehicle falls into the “minor” category, this information will also help you identify a good, cheap collision repair in Wichita, KS and provide some advice on whether you should pay for the repair out of pocket or risk higher monthly premiums by filing a claim with your insurance company.
Understanding the Difference Between Major and Minor Collision Repair Shops
Most of the body shops out there perform major collision repair rather than specializing in the minor stuff. And because they repair body damage that involves structural and engine damage, they have to invest in more specialized tools and technicians than the minor repair shops do. For example, a frame-straightening machine can cost from $15,000 to nearly $100,000 for some types of frames, so this is a big investment for the shop. Add to that the wages for technicians qualified to use the equipment, and they have to charge more for all their work in order to cover the increased overhead costs.
A smaller number of body shops in Wichita perform only minor collision repair. If you have major damage, they’ll send you somewhere else, but if minor damage is all you have, these shops often charge significantly less than the major repair companies would for the same damage. This can open the door to paying for repairs out of pocket to avoid higher insurance premiums in the future. Bottom line: if all you need is minor collision repair, it pays to call a minor collision repair shop.
:What Should You Expect to Pay for Minor Collision Repair?
Every auto body repair job is somewhat unique, but you can often expect to costs to fall within certain ranges. Let’s look at a few:
- Paint touch-ups/small areas on the vehicle – from $65 to $300
- Fender repair – average $75
- Mirror damage repair – average $100
- Hood damage – average $150
- Bumper damage $300 – $400
- Single stage full paint job – $600 to $2,000
- Multi stage full paint job – up to $5,000
Dings and Dents Don’t Have to Cost Much
Some of the most common types of damage are minor dings and dents. The simple solution is to find a body shop that isn’t “tooled up” with extravagant equipment and staffed with expensive labor. One repair technique, paintless dent removal (PDR), is a cheap option that can sometimes cost less than your insurance deductible (the amount you have to pay out of pocket on any claim). As an added benefit, PDR usually allows you to drive away the same day you take the vehicle in.
PDR technicians carefully coax dents back to their original shape, without affecting the paint. Bear in mind that PDR can only be used when there is no damage to the vehicle paint and there are no major surface creases. This technique requires very little time compared to others and can cost as little as $100.
Should You File an Insurance Claim?
It’s worth having a conversation with your insurance agent before you decide whether or not to file a claim for minor collision repair. The math is pretty simple, once you have three numbers in front of you. For example, if the cost of repairs is $300, and you have a $250 deductible, your insurance company will only pay $50 for the repair, and you’ll pay the rest out of pocket. If your monthly premium goes up by $10 a month as a result of the accident, you’re losing money after the first five months at the higher rate. If you have the cash in hand, it can make sense to pay for the minor stuff out of pocket.
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How to Find a Good Minor Collision Repair Shop
As with any significant outlay of money, it’s important to do your research before you commit to a shop. Start by looking online for companies that have been around for a while. Not that the new guys on the block are untrustworthy or unskilled, but running a business is tough, and not all new companies will still be around in a few months, should you run into a problem with their work.
After you’ve narrowed your list, look at Google reviews for the shops you’re considering. Keep in mind that even the best companies get bad reviews; it just takes one customer with possibly unreasonable expectations to lower a body shop’s star rating. In these cases, take a closer look to see how responsive the shop is to the negative review. If they’ve ignored it, this could be a sign that they are not entirely focused on customer service. On the other hand, if they reply to the complaint in a timely manner and make a concerted effort to rectify the problem, that’s a pretty glowing testimony of their commitment to keeping customers happy.
Look at each company’s Facebook reviews—and their Facebook page in general. Not only will this provide a better sense of their overall quality, it can also give you a glimpse of the “personality” of the company, which can also be useful information.
As you shorten your list, we hope you’ll keep APR in mind. We’ve been in Wichita for 12 years, and that experience pays off in efficiency—and cost—when you need minor collision repair. We also keep a very clean shop, which matters when you’re dealing with the aesthetics of vehicle paint and body work, and it makes for a positive experience when you visit one of our Wichita body shop locations.