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Will the Lowest Auto Body Repair Estimate in Saint Helens Lead to Poor Quality?

 Q: I need some work done on my Dodge Ram. I got five estimates, and three of the Saint Helens body shops want to charge me $1,200 to replace the whole trunk lid. The other two are $600 and $800 to repair it.

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, and 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 received 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 to quality in Saint Helens 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 Saint Helens 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.

When it comes to repairs, sometimes just a couple hundred dollars is the difference between you feeling completely satisfied or unsatisfied. Many body shops might suggest the replacement lid because the labor to repair it would cost more than buying a replacement and re-painting it.

Not all of the Saint Helens 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 Saint Helens body shops might be able to do the work more efficiently, and be able to offer a lower price. Usually they won’t, however, because the more volume they produce, the more profit they earn if they can still get the work in the door at the $1,2000 price.

The local Saint Helens 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 it is the whole reason why shops like ours at St. Helens Auto Body on Saint Helens have worked 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 3 out of 5 Saint Helens auto body shops said to replace it, then it is most likely because it is either faster to do so, or because the repair labor exceeds the replacement labor. No matter how any Saint Helens body shop approaches this repair, you are still going to have to pay to take the old deck lid off, repaint the decklid, and then put it back on. That part of the estimate is literally “oranges to oranges.” So if 3 of the Saint Helens area body shops say replace it, I'm inclined to recommend that you what they suggest. 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!

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