What is the average cost to repair a car?

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In a nutshell...
  • When a car runs into a small car, the truck bumper generally does significant amounts of damage
  • The five least expensive cars to repair were 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.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a study in 2008, which suggested the average cost to repair a car after an accident was 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 jumped dramatically over the last 40 years.

Keep in mind that average cost takes into consideration all of the claims made on a nationwide basis for all accidents.

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.

Also, keep in mind that repair costs vary according to geographic location and the type of car being repaired. Enter your zip code above to get FREE car insurance quotes today!

What factors are driving up the cost of car repairs?

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.

The Institute 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 car runs into a small car, the 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 awful lot of electronic parts, which cost more to replace than mechanical ones.

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

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 percent 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 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 there some cars more expensive to repair than others are?

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 2008 Consumer Reports study ranks 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.

Surprisingly, 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?

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.

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