How Collision Estimators Decide Whether to Repair or Replace Auto Parts

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Repair or replace? It’s a tricky question when it comes to automobiles. On the one hand, repairing a vehicle will typically involve less waste, and seems like it should be the cheaper option. After all, you’re fixing something that is already there instead of getting something new.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. Sometimes, it would just be too expensive to repair a part to an adequate level, and so collision estimators will recommend a replacement instead.

Wondering how that decision is made? Here’s a look at some of the things that collision estimators consider when making the call.

One of the First Questions Collision Estimators Ask: Is the Car Even Worth the Repair?

With rare exception, from the moment a car is first driven off the lot, its value decreases over time. Wear and tear degrade parts over every kilometre, and so a brand new car should be better and worth more than a similar car that is older.

That’s why the age of a car can make a big difference in whether or not it’s worth the cost of repairing it. A $1,500 repair would make sense for a minivan purchased last year, since a similar vehicle still goes for a lot of money. For a $500 beater van from the early 2000s? At that price, it makes more sense to get a different vehicle—after the repair, it’ll still only be worth about $500.
Ultimately, customers might follow their hearts and insist on a repair for a beloved vehicle, but when you work as an auto body estimator, you can do your clients a solid by explaining when it’s better to replace the car itself.

Collision Estimators Want Repairs to Get Close to the Original State

The point of repairing a part is to get it back in working order, which ideally means getting it to a state that is pretty close to what it was before being damaged. If it’s unlikely or impossible to repair a part to that state, a replacement will be best.

Failing to make this judgement properly can have pretty big consequences. Repaired parts that misalign or work to a much lower standard than a new part can impact the safety, fuel economy, and overall performance of a vehicle, and clients tend not to take kindly to hazardous or financially draining vehicles.

Training as a collision estimator will give you a good grounding in how to make the distinction between parts that should be repaired and those that need replacing. By the time you finish school, you will be able to get even the toughest calls right, and ensure the best course of action is followed for your clients’ vehicles.

It’s Important to Consider How Long a Repair Will Take When Making This Decision

One aspect of this decision doesn’t really have to do with the quality of a part at all. Instead, it’s related to the length of time it will take for a repair to be done vs. the amount of time a replacement will take.

The longer a job takes, the more labour cost will be charged. With extensive jobs, that means labour costs can add up pretty quickly. It also means that even if the material costs for a repair are much lower than for a replacement, it might end up being more economical for the client to go for a replacement instead. Expect to make labour costs a crucial part of your process when deciding whether a repair or replacement is best.

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