How to Find a Good Car Exterior Repair Service Near Me

The benefits of fixing your car's exterior go beyond aesthetic appeals. According to consumer reports, Improvements like removing body dents, fixing window-glass defects, and a new body paint increase the resale value of your vehicle significantly. Also, new tires and lights enhance your car's road-worthiness. Note, non-road-worthy vehicles are one of the leading causes of the more than 38,000 road crash-related deaths recorded annually in the United States.

Therefore, it is important to retain the services of a reputable car exterior repair shop near you to help keep your vehicle in top shape at all times. A good mechanic nearby is quick to reach and will deliver on the job on short turnaround. To finalize on which local car repair shop to use, seek satisfactory answers to the following questions:

  1. Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?

    Several states, including Florida, Michigan, New York, California, and Hawaii, require either the licensing or registration of car exterior repair shops and technicians that offer their services to members of the public. The requirements for obtaining these licenses or registrations vary by location and you can get specific information on car exterior repair shops and technicians for your locality by contacting your state's consumer protection office.

    In addition to licensing and registration, you should also find out whether the car exterior repair shop or technician near you that you intend to hire is certified by a professional body. Certifications issued by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence are generally considered a standard credential for the car repair industry, and car exterior repair technicians that are ASE-certified are usually more knowledgeable and reputable than non-certified technicians. Note that if a car exterior repair shop near you displays an ASE certification logo, this does not automatically mean that every technician employed by the shop has been ASE-certified. However, if up to 75% of the repair shop's technicians have been ASE-certified, and every area of service that this shop provides is covered by at least one of these technicians, then the car exterior repair shop will display an ASE Blue Seal of Excellence.

  2. How Much Does Car Exterior Repair Cost?

    Car exterior repair costs vary widely and can range from as little as $50 to as high as $2,000 or more. These costs are primarily dependent on factors like the make and model of the car, the type and extent of damage done to the car, and the repair shop that will be fixing this damage. Some common car exterior repair cost estimates include:

    • Dented door and bumper repair - $50 - $400
    • Basic paint damage repair - $300 - $900
    • Deep paint and extensive scratches repair - $1,000 - $5,000
    • Cracked windshield repair - $100 - $150
    • Windshield replacement - $400 - $1,000
    • Strut/shock absorber replacement - $450 - $600
    • Wheel alignment - $100 - $300
    • Ball joint replacement - $220 - $280
    • Car bumper repair/replacement - $300 - $1,500
    • Car door repair/replacement - $100 $1,000
    • Car body panel repair - $100 $2,000
    • Car frame repair - $500 - $10,000
    • Front/rear end repair $200 $2,000

    The best way to avoid spending money on car exterior repair is by preventing damages to your car as much as possible. You can do this by adding protective items to your doors and bumpers to avoid dents, and paying attention to potholes and other obstacles when driving to prevent accidents. However, if your car happens to get damaged, then you can cut down on the total cost of fixing these damages by considering the following tips:

    • Compare cost estimates from no less than two or three car exterior repair shops near you
    • Find out how much of the repair costs will be covered by your insurance company
    • Find out if the car exterior repair shop has a membership club or program that offers discounts to registered members

What Are Common Car Exterior Repair Expenses?

Car exterior repairs do not typically incur additional expenses excluding the cost of fixing the damage to the car. However, if these repairs will require that your car remains in the shop for a while, then you may have to consider other options for moving around like ride-hailing and car rental services, or public transportation. This can cost you anywhere between $40 and $150 each day. Likewise, you may decide to get your car detailed after its exterior has been fixed. Car detailing typically costs an average of $50 - $200.

Who Will Do the Work?

Before you drop off your car at any car exterior repair shop near you, you should have a clear idea of who will be responsible for fixing its damages. Always remember that even though a car exterior repair shop may be ASE-certified, not all the technicians that are employed by this shop may have also obtained this certification. As such, you should always insist on having an ASE-certified technician work on your car. ASE certifications are considered the gold standard in the car repair industry, and having an ASE-certified technician work on your car gives you a certain assurance that the job will be done in the best and most professional way possible. If the repair shop assigns more than one technician for your job, then make sure that these technicians are directly overseen by a technician that is ASE-certified.

What Qualifications Should a Car Exterior Repair Technician Have?

Car exterior repair technicians are required to have a high school certificate. These technicians also typically attend community colleges and trade or technical schools where they take programs in electronics, welding, and other related courses that combine technical instruction with hands-on practice. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are no less than 137,000 automotive body and related repairers currently employed by the country's automotive industry, and this figure is inclusive of car exterior repair technicians.

Many car repair shops require newly employed car exterior repair technicians to undergo on-the-job hands-on training under the tutelage of more experienced technicians for a period of six months to two or three years before they can become fully independent and allowed to carry out repair jobs without supervision. These employers may also provide external training opportunities for their technicians via programs offered by organizations like the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, as well as certification opportunities from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Certification is generally recommended for car exterior repair technicians as it demonstrates competence, professionalism, and expertise. Finally, some car exterior repair technicians belong to trade associations like the Society of Collision Repair Specialists.

Will You Provide References?

When you have to fix any damages to your car's exterior, it is advisable to get recommendations on good car exterior repair shops near you from trusted friends, family, and colleagues. You can also utilize the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence's online portal to find an ASE-certified car exterior repair shop near you. When you have gotten a few options and made sure that these car repair shops are licensed or registered per your state's requirements, you should always ask for verifiable references. Consider it a red flag if a car exterior repair shop cannot provide you the contact details of up to three past customers that can positively confirm or corroborate any claims the repair shop may have made concerning its work and level of professionalism. It is a good idea to also conduct an online search on websites like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review to find out if any negative reviews have been made against the car exterior repair shop and the circumstances behind these reviews. Finally, you can also contact your state's Attorney General's Office to find out if any official complaints have been filed against the particular car exterior repair shop near you that you wish to drop your car off at.

Quick Facts about Car Exterior Repair Technicians

2020 Median Pay
$44,190 per year, $21.24 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education
High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
On-the-job Training
Short to moderate-term on-the-job training, usually not more than three years
Number of Jobs, 2019
Job Outlook, 2019-29
2% (slower than average)
Employment Change, 2019-29

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Car Exterior Repair Services

What Damages Car Paint the Most?

Some of the most common everyday substances that can damage your car's paint job include:

  • Accumulated dust
  • Acid rain
  • Bird droppings
  • Coffee
  • Dirty rags and towels
  • Gas spills
  • Insect body fluids
  • Non-silicone-based brake fluid
  • Shaving cream
  • Shoe polish
  • Silly string
  • Soda
  • Tree sap
  • Vandalism

Note that some of these substances may damage your paint job faster than others.

Why Is Auto Body Repair so Expensive?

The cost of parts, materials, and equipment required for auto body repair as well as the time and specific skill set required to ensure that the job is done properly all contribute towards driving up the cost of auto body repair. Also, car exterior repair shops are subject to various tax and environmental requirements and regulations, particularly with regards to pollution and waste disposal. This increases their overhead costs, which in turn increases the overall cost of auto body repair in these shops. Finally, in many cases, the damage to your car may end up being worse than it initially seemed after a proper inspection and assessment, thereby requiring you to spend more than you had initially budgeted to carry out the necessary repairs.

If your auto body repair expenses are not covered by your insurance company and you have to pay out of pocket, then you should consider getting quotes from various reputable car exterior repair shops and going with the one closest to your budget. Note that you should always do your due diligence before dropping your car off at any auto body shop.

What Is the Difference Between Genuine, OEM, and Aftermarket Parts?

Genuine parts refer to auto parts that have been branded by the manufacturer and these are the exact parts that can also be found in your new vehicle. On the other hand, OEM parts are auto parts that are manufactured by the factory supplier of your car's brand and although they will match your car, they may not have genuine branding. Finally, aftermarket auto parts refer to parts that are not made by the original equipment manufacturer of your car.

Always make sure that your car exterior repair shop informs you of the type of auto parts that it intends to use for your car's repair. Although aftermarket parts are usually cheaper than genuine or OEM parts, using them may void your car's warranty and may not also be covered by your insurance. As such, you should always consult with your insurer before using them.

Do You Work with Insurance Companies?

Yes. Many professional car exterior repair shops work with insurance companies, and some insurance companies may even recommend certain repair shops to their customers. However, it is important to note that these insurance companies are typically prohibited from forcing their customers to utilize the services of a particular auto repair shop.

Do You Offer Warranty on the Collision Repairs and the Paint Job?

Professional and reputable car exterior repair shops typically offer warranties on any repairs and paint jobs that they carry out. The specific terms and conditions of these warranties usually vary by repair shop, and so it is advisable to request a written copy of any warranty that you are offered. This way, you have a clear understanding of its terms and conditions as well as the circumstances under which the warranty may be voided.

How Long Can I Expect My Vehicle to Be at Your Shop for Repairs?

How long your car will remain in a car exterior repair shop depends on factors like the type of damage, the complexity of the required repairs, and the availability of any auto parts and materials that may be needed for the job. However, a professional car exterior repair shop will usually provide you with an estimated time of completion when you drop your car off.

Do You Provide a Courtesy Car?

Some professional car exterior repair shops offer their customers courtesy or loaner cars in situations where the required repair is estimated to take hours or even days. While these courtesy cars may be offered at no additional cost to you, you should always verify this with the car exterior repair shop. Alternatively, many professional car exterior repair shops will also help you arrange a rental vehicle that you can use to carry out your normal daily routines while your car is being repaired. It is a good idea to find out if your insurance or warranty will either cover the cost or provide you a discount for this rental service.

Will My Car Look the Same as It Did Before the Accident?

If the damage to your car's exterior is fixed by a professional and adequately skilled car exterior repair technician, then it will look the same as it did before the damage occurred. A skilled car exterior repair technician will make sure that your car's body panels are aligned, that its paint color and quality match its initial look, and that your doors, hood, and trunk all open and close properly. Nevertheless, before retaining the services of the car exterior repair shop or technician, it is always a good idea to inquire about the repair shop's warranty policy. You should also find out how long you have to determine if there is still any hidden or mechanical damage after the repair is concluded.

If My Car Has Just Been Painted, How Long Before I Can Wash It?

Generally, many car exterior repair shops recommend waiting for at least 24 hours after your car is painted before hand washing it with water, a soft cloth, and soap, and at least one month before running it through a commercial car wash. Nevertheless, you should always find out exactly how long you have to wait before washing your newly painted car from your specific car exterior repair shop.