Need auto body repair and are confused about the range in price quotes at area auto body shops? Click here to learn more about pricing and body repair estimates.

by Tom Zoebelein - Wed, Oct 1, 2014 2:05 PM

Q: I have a small dent on my 2013 Ford Fusion trunk lid. I got five estimates. Three of the body shops want to charge me $1,200 to replace the whole trunk lid. The other two are $600 and $800 to repair it.

Auto body estimate


The two lowest estimates make me wonder. The first guy wanted to offer me a deal right away as soon as I talked to him.  He didn't have the nicest body shop, my instincts just made me scared about bringing my car to him. He wanted to charge me $610 for the repair and said that if he can't fix it, he would charge me $800 to replace it.

The second quote I got was from a family owned body shop. It is a very clean shop and well organized which already makes me feel more comfortable. He said he would charge me $700 to repair it and it would come to $800 with tax and shop fees. I also told him about my 4 other quotes, and he didn't try to match the price. He said he added an extra hour to make sure he does a good job.

My question is this: does price equal quality in auto body shops? Should I bring it to the $600 body shop or the $800 body shop?


Often in service businesses such as an auto body repair shop, you get exactly what you pay for. With something as simple as a deck lid dent repair, any area auto body shop worth its salt really should be able to tell you tell you right away if the truck lid can be repaired correctly or if it needs to be replaced.

Sometimes a couple of hundred dollars is all the difference separating completely satisfied from completely unsatisfied. Many body shops might suggest the replacement lid because the labor to repair it might exceed the cost of buying a replacement and re-painting it.

Not all of the area auto body shops are equal and neither is the pricing they offer. A really small shop might be desperate for the work and will be willing to discount the job super low just to get it in the door. These shops are usually hurting for business for a reason.

Other local body shops might be able to do the work more efficiently and might be able to offer a lower price. Usually they won’t however because the more volume they produce just means more profit if they can still get the work in the door at the $1,2000 price.

The local body shops that can command the $1,200 price can do so, because they have great reputations. A great reputation is worth its weight in gold and is the whole reason why shops like ours in at on work so hard to build it.

Without seeing the dent, I can’t make a comment as to whether it could have been repaired or replaced. However I can tell you that if three out of 5 auto body shops said to replace it, it is most likely because it is either faster to do so, or the repair labor exceeds the replacement labor. No matter how any body shop approaches this repair, you are still going to have to pay to take the old deck lid off, repaint the decklid, and put it back on. That part of the estimate is literally “oranges to oranges.” So if three of the area body shops say replace it, I might be inclined to recommend that you do the same. There is no telling how the other two shops might total up their final bill after performing the work. You might end up with a much higher bill if the shop gets in over their head. This is, after all, only an estimate.