The Secret to Finding Cheap Collision Repair in Wichita, Kansas
Most consumers have no idea that there are two types of collision repair shops. Nor do they know that one kind has higher overhead and more insurance “red tape” to deal with than the other kind, so of course, this type of shop has to charge higher prices. It’s not always clear which one you’re dealing with unless you know what questions to ask. And the fact is, some types of vehicle damage have to be repaired at one of the more expensive shops for either insurance reasons or mechanical reasons. In this article, we’ll give you all the information you need to find cheap collision repair in Wichita, Kansas, or anywhere else, for that matter.
The full service collision repair shop model
When most of us think about body shops, we picture a facility filled with huge equipment and mechanic bays, along with the paint booths and hand tools that are necessary to do actual body work. This type of operation is called, well, a collision repair shop. But they do much more than body work. These shops also have the ability to bend massive sections of vehicle frames, plus they have full-time mechanics on duty to repair mechanical components of the vehicle in addition to the outer body. A shop of this kind is equipped to handle the big, ugly wrecks that gnarl vehicles and destroy moving parts under the hood.
This frame bending machine costs around $35,000, a huge investment for a full service body shop. Machines for newer aluminum frames can cost more than $100,000.
Because these types of repairs are expensive, most drivers do not pay for them out of pocket, so full-service shops also spend a lot of time dealing with insurance companies, who often foot the bill. This red tape also adds to the shop’s overhead, requiring specialized staff to manage the web of compliance data required by insurers.
It’s a big, complicated operation that can require hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and large staffs, so these full service shops have to charge accordingly.
The minor collision repair alternative
There’s another type of shop that can handle a huge percentage of collision repair situations: a minor collision repair shop. (APR is this type.) These shops don’t invest in frame benders, and they spend less time dealing with insurance companies because many of their customers prefer to pay for repairs out of their own pockets to avoid insurance premium increases. With lower operating costs, these shops are able to pass on serious savings to vehicle owners, as long as the repairs fall within their range of capability.
So, what can minor collision repair do (and not do)?
A lot of mishaps affect only the outer body of the vehicle, with no damage to engine parts or frame components. For these situations, minor collision repair can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. If your damage has not affected anything inside the body, you’re probably a candidate for minor collision repair.
Some of these shops also offer more than one auto painting option. For an older vehicle, there are ways to do the paint job that take less time, and so they cost less. This alternative type of paint job—called single-stage painting—still looks great when it’s done and will continue to look great for years—plenty long enough for a less-than-new vehicle.
Repairing small areas of damage can be surprisingly affordable, with minor touchups costing $100 or less. Here’s a ballpark guide of what you might pay for some of these minor repairs:
- Fenders – $75
- Mirrors – $100
- Hood – $150
- Bumper – $325
Even larger repairs and paint jobs still cost less from a shop like APR, compared to our full-service competitors. A full vehicle, single-stage paint job can cost between $600 and $2,000 for some colors and vehicle types (a fraction of the full-service shop alternative). For more severe paint damage, the paint job may cost more at APR, but it still costs less than you would pay at a full service shop.
Insurance coverage versus paying out of pocket
For the big, expensive accidents, it usually makes sense to file an insurance claim because most of us don’t have thousands of spare dollars laying around. And sometimes you’re required to file a claim, for example when other drivers/vehicles are involved in the accident.
If no other drivers are involved, it can make financial sense to pay for repairs out of pocket because filing a claim can make your insurance rates go up, costing you far more over the next three years than the repair price tag alone. The other potential upside is that, by not filing an insurance claim, you avoid having your accident logged into a national database of vehicle histories. This information can hurt the vehicle’s resale value, should you ever decide to sell it.
If you’re lucky, paintless dent repair may do the trick
Before and after photo of paintless dent repair (PDR) on a car fender well.
Of all the repair techniques currently in use, paintless dent repair (PDR) is by far the least expensive, assuming it’s a viable alternative for your vehicle. While traditional body work requires grinding, putty fillers and repainting, PDR preserves the original paint. For this reason, it’s not an option for situations where the paint is damaged or where there are creases in the body.
PDR technicians use small, semi-surgical looking tools to push and “massage” dents out. This technique is many times faster than traditional body work, takes far less time and costs a lot less. PDR can run as little as $60 for a small dent, and the average bill for this type of repair is about $250.
Cheap auto collision repair can be a reality
With options like minor collision repair and PDR,not all car accidents have to break the bank (or raise your insurance rates). If you’re unsure what type of damage your vehicle has, call us at (316) 262-8888 or bring it by our shop at 1100 S. Washington in Wichita.