What is the average cost to repair a car?

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In a nutshell...
  • When a larger vehicle runs into a smaller car, the larger vehicle’s bumper can cause significant damage
  • The five least expensive vehicle models to repair are the Hyundai Accent, Kia Sedona, Suzuki SX4, Suzuki XL7, and Honda Pilot
  • If you or the insurance company insist on only new parts, the repair costs will be higher than if you (or your insurance company) accept after-market parts

You’ve just been in a car accident, and you can see that your vehicle sustained damages. What do you do? Who is covered under my car insurance policy? This is particularly important if you weren’t driving your vehicle at the time of the accident. Who is responsible for the cost of repairs? What is the average cost to repair a car after an accident?

When looking at the average cost to repair a car, it’s important to keep in mind that average cost takes into consideration all of the claims made on a nationwide basis for all accidents, but it doesn’t include cars whose damage was not reported to the respective insurance companies. If that data were available, it would likely adjust the price up or down accordingly.

Keep in mind that repair costs vary according to geographic location and the type of car being repaired, as well as the severity of the damages.

Want to make sure you have the coverage necessary to cover the estimated repair costs of your car after an accident? Enter your ZIP code above to get free car insurance quotes today.

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Car Damage Repair Cost and Car Insurance

How much does it cost to fix a car after an accident? Car damage costs can vary significantly depending on the type of car, and the level and the type of damage. For example, a BMW accident repair cost may be higher than accident repair costs for a Kia or a Honda.

One Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report suggests the average cost to repair a car after an accident is just over $4,000.

Compared to a similar report issued in 1972, where the cost was just over $400, you can see that repair costs have increased dramatically over the last several decades.

When wondering how much is it to fix a car, it’s important to know both the cost of repairs and whether the damage is covered by your insurance. You may be asking, will my car insurance pay for a dented door? It depends on the type of coverage you have. Take a look at this video for a quick overview of different coverage types you can add to your policy.

The average cost to repair a car door will be very different from the average cost to repair a car window. Read through the next few sections to learn more about the average cost of car body repair, collision repair cost examples, and more.

What factors drive up the cost of car repairs?

We turn back to the IIHS study we noted in the previous section as a starting point. One of the most exciting aspects of the IIHS study is that it focused on the bumpers found on modern cars and how they relate to accident damage.

IIHS discovered that even though bumpers were initially designed to be roughly in the same position for all cars, thus mitigating some of the damage in minor accidents that the same alignment is no longer the norm.

This can easily be seen when you compare the modern pickup truck or SUV to the compact sedan. When a pickup truck or SUV runs into a small car, the SUV/truck bumper generally does significant amounts of damage.

Furthermore, the study also concluded that the bumpers themselves are less effective in preventing damage.

Bumpers aside, today’s cars are just also more expensive to repair because parts are becoming increasingly more specialized. Because computers control most of our newer cars, this means an significant amount of electronic parts, which cost more to replace than mechanical ones.

Additionally, sleeker looking vehicles may have more expensive external parts as well. For example, in another IIHS report, headlights alone can cost up to over $3,000 to replace if they’re damaged in a car accident.

Not only is the cost of replacement parts a factor in determining cost of repairs, but the overall reliability of a vehicle can affect how much you’ll spend on repairs over the life of the vehicle.

For example, according to Repair Pal, the average annual repair cost for a Honda Civic is $368 (which has a reliability rating of 4.5 out of five), while the average annual cost of repair for all vehicles is $652. Keep in mind that if you’re in a significant accident, the cost to repair your vehicle will be much lighter (likely similar to the $4,000 average we discussed earlier).

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With the high cost of today’s cars, why isn’t the average repair cost higher?

Wondering how much it costs to repair a car after an accident? When you look at new cars costing $20,000 or more purchase, it may surprise you that the average repair cost is only about $4,000.

However, you have to remember that a new car loses 15 to 20 percent of its value within the first year of ownership.

Once your repair costs approach $8,000-$10,000, most car insurance companies would total the car (depending on its actual cash value) rather than attempt to repair it.

For example, if your insurance company paid you $16,000 for your car and then could turn around and sell it at a salvage auction for $8,000-$10,000, they would be in a better position than they would have had they chosen to repair your vehicle.

For the insurance company, it all comes down to what will leave them in a better financial position after all is said and done.

Are some cars more expensive to repair than others are?

How much does it cost to fix a crashed car? One factor to consider is the vehicle itself. It is understood that some cars are inherently more expensive to repair than others are. Part of the higher cost is due to the value of the vehicle itself; the rest is due to the specialized training needed to make the repairs.

A Consumer Reports study ranked the ten most and the least expensive cars to repair, over a five-year period, based on 2008 models. Their repair costs were based on both anticipated and not anticipated repairs.

Though the data didn’t include crash repairs, it stands to reason that results would be similar for the most part.

At the top of that list was the Land Rover Range Rover. Two Jaguar models and two Mercedes models rounded out the top five.

It’s interesting to note that at both the top and bottom of the scales some cars listed are American-made.

How do repair shops estimate repair costs after an accident?

Wondering how much to repair a car after an accident? Understanding how repair shops estimate costs for fixing your car can help you determine if quotes you receive are fair. Repair shops must take into consideration several different things when estimating the cost of repairs. This includes:

    • Parts and supplies
  • How much time a worker will spend on a given vehicle
  • How much profit the auto repair shop wants to make

In a typical repair shop, all of these factors have been predetermined so that making estimates is rather quick and efficient.

There are industry standards put in place that say the labor costs for repairing a part will be based on a standard number of person-hours. They don’t break down each type of repair and consider the amount of time it would take their workers.

Where parts are concerned, the estimate is heavily dependent on the components used. If they can get replacement parts from a junkyard, for example, that will bring down the repair costs significantly.

So how much does it cost to fix a front end collision? Given all these factors, it is difficult to estimate averages for specific types of damage.

The Bottom Line for Average Cost to Repair a Car

How much does it cost to fix a car after an accident? It depends on the type and severity of the damage, the type of vehicle, where you live, and more. Some estimates indicate the average cost of vehicle repairs post-accident is about $4,000, while the average annual cost for regular repairs on a vehicle (not including accidents) is $652.

Depending on the type of damage, you may be able to follow your insurer’s procedure for an auto insurance claim and save on spending your own cash for repairs, but this depends on the type of coverage you have. If you have to pay out-of-pocket, this can get expensive. The average cost to repair a car dent may be something you choose to pay yourself to avoid a deductible.

The best way to reduce your chances of having to pay upfront for the cost of vehicle repairs is to ensure you have appropriate car insurance coverage. Compare rates today using our free tool.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Average Cost to Repair a Car

Still have questions about the average cost of repairs for a car? Read these frequently asked questions for more.

#1 – How much does it cost to repair a car with hail damage?

It depends on a number of factors we’ve already discussed like the type and value of your vehicle, where you live, and the severity of damage. However, many repair shops charge per dent and by dent size for repairing hail damage. Take a look at this table for more.

Average Cost for Hail Damage Repair by Dent Size
Average Cost to Repair a Small Hail DentAverage Cost to Repair a Medium-Sized Hail DentAverage Cost to Repair a Large Hail Dent
$45/each$45-$55/each$75+/each
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Overall averages can be around $2,500, given that hail damage will often include a number of dents on your vehicle. Luckily for you, if you have comprehensive car insurance coverage, your hail damage repairs may be covered by your policy (minus your deductible).

#2 – Is it worth repairing a totaled car?

How much does it cost to repair a wrecked car? Answering this question for your specific situation will help you determine whether or not it makes sense to repair your totaled car. This is especially important because if your vehicle is totaled, your insurance company is planning to pay you cash (minus your deductible) for your vehicle.

If you opt to keep your vehicle instead, you’ll still get an insurance payout, but you’ll need to repair the vehicle, and often you’ll have to have it re-certified as driveable in order to be able to get back on the road. Your insurance company will also still declare your vehicle a total loss for their paperwork.

#3 – How long does it take to fix a car after a wreck?

If you’re wondering what the average time to repair a car after an accident it, there are a number of factors to consider. The primary factor is the severity of the damage. The average repair time after a car accident that resulted in minor damage might only be a few days, while more severe damage might take a few weeks.

If parts aren’t in stock or other vehicles are ahead of you in the queue, the repair time might extend even further.

Get started on finding the right insurance coverage to pay the average auto body repair cost if you’re in an accident by entering your ZIP code in our free tool to get a free car insurance quote today.

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