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Understanding Car Repair Estimates

Understanding car repair estimates is a challenge for most people, whether we drive a classic Ford pickup or a new BMW convertible. For many of us, the whole reason we have brought our cars into the shop in the first place is that we don't understand enough about it to do the repair on our own. So, when we get some estimate from the shop full of jargon and language that is hard to understand, it only tends to reinforce that feeling that brought us here.

Get a handle on these things by making sure you understand an estimate before you authorize a shop to do any work. Get the estimate in writing and make sure it is clear and easy for you to understand. If there is something about it that is not so easy, get some help with it. Do not be afraid to ask questions. In fact, this is the best way to work through an estimate when it is being presented to you by the shop manager. It is his or her job to help you understand exactly what is going to be done to the car and why.

What Car Estimates Should Include

There are certain standard elements that should appear in all car shop estimates regardless of the type of work that is going to be done. Some sort of reference to the car appears at the top, of course. Maybe it will be reflected in a make, model year, paint color, and mileage. After that, the important parts come. The parts to be used and the prices for those parts need to be shown. Those parts should be specified as to whether they are OEM, aftermarket, remanufactured, or used parts. Any one of these types could be appropriate depending on the specifics of the job. But if you are unsure, please don't hesitate to ask.

The next element is usually labor charges. In most cases these will be broken down into units of time. Tenths of an hour are pretty standard in car repair shops, so don't be surprised if that is what you see. Miscellaneous charges will also probably be listed. This could include things like shop supplies or oil disposal, for example. Flat fees are added in as well; these are fees that not broken down into increments of time. A shop could be running a special advertising some flat rate for a certain type of work. That is where it would appear in the estimate. Finally, some sort of summary of charges wraps it all up for you - which is one of many useful car insurance tips.

Breaking Through Car Shop Lingo

It is hard for those of us who are not car people to understand what is being described in these estimates. But once again, it is the job of the manager or the person presenting you with the estimate to make sure that you understand it. Take time to read it over before you leave the shop, and do not walk out until you know exactly what is going on, especially the work that is being done and the prices being charged. This receipt of the estimate is your perfect chance to clear up any misunderstanding and get the message delivered in simple language that you understand.

Car shop managers deal with customer every day. You won't be the first one they've had to explain an estimate to, and chances are if the day is young, you won't be the last today, either. It is important to know what you are getting into before surrendering the keys. Understand car repair estimates completely and totally before you allow the shop to do any work on your car.


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