Am I getting ripped off paying for a car dent repair?
September 21, 2007 4:06 PM   Subscribe

How much do a body shops typically charge for repairng small dents on cars?

I rear ended a car while cycling today, chipped the corner of one of my front teeth, and made a small dent in the back of the guy's trunk. It's about 1/8 inch deep and 3/4 inch long.

We exchange information, and he calls me a couple of hours later with a quote from his mechanic. $350.

Is that reasonable, or am I getting ripped off?
posted by BeaverTerror to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
Sounds fairly normal to me.
posted by junesix at 4:12 PM on September 21, 2007

I have a one inch wide chip in the paint of my driver's side door (new car granted) thats gonna cost $500. Are you being ripped off? Unfortunately no, thats about market. Is it completely unfair and inflated. Hell ya.

Did you try running it through your car insurance? Sometimes they cover stuff like that, even if you werent driving your car. I know AAA does.
posted by elendil71 at 4:18 PM on September 21, 2007

Response by poster: Scratch the "a" in the first sentence. I'll read what I type next time. Damn grammar...
posted by BeaverTerror at 4:18 PM on September 21, 2007

$350 does not sound bad at all. I just had my whole rear end done after getting hit by another vehicle. $7,500. More than half of that is labor.

What you are looking at it, 1-2 hours labor for pulling the dent, and the cost of painting whatever needs to be painted.

You could always ask him if he will bring it to a shop of your choice for a second opinion though.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 4:37 PM on September 21, 2007

First of all, a mechanic probably shouldn't be doing body work. That aside, the price is what I'd expect. Think what the typical shop hourly rate is, then consider they've got to tape and mask the area, strip it, bondo, sand, then sand some more including the whole panel to prep for paint, prep for paint, paint, probably heat bake it, deal with the paperwork and customer, etc. A little dent can be a lot of work.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 4:40 PM on September 21, 2007

75 bucks an hour for labor (taking the panel off, pounding it out or drill-pulling it out, then there's materials (bondo, primer, paint) and the cost of matching the paint, which apparently requires a special device and a number of test sprays. I doubt it could be done in 2 hours, so it sounds eminently reasonable.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:57 PM on September 21, 2007

Quick thought: will he take it to a paintless dent repair place for an estimate? They specialize in small dents like this, using metal shaping tools to massage away dents without sanding/filling/repainting -- and for a lot less money.

I've had it done, and it works wonders. Not all dents can be worked this way, but if there's no paint damage, the area is small and the area can be reached from behind with the tools -- it's worth an ask.
posted by davejay at 5:58 PM on September 21, 2007

I'm with davejay on this - check out paintless dent removal, it's perfect for head shaped dents.
posted by foodgeek at 9:58 PM on September 21, 2007

Check with a local career development/training center that has an automotive department and see whether it can become a student project to repair the dent on a "real word" car. This can typically be done for free, though I have not tried it myself.
posted by Quarter Pincher at 4:30 AM on September 22, 2007

DIY approach?

See p. 360 "Auto Repair For Dummies" by Deanna Sclar.

"If the metal has been pushed in and has not been badly creased, you can try to pop it back into place with a rubber plunger (....a 'plumber's helper')....You can attempt to hammer out small dents by placing a flat piece of metal, with a rag wrapped around it to protect the paint...on the outer side of the car and banging on the dent from the underside of the dent only, or you will end up with a couple of bumps to deal with as well!"

"Large damaged areas should be repaired professionally."

I never tried the above. I happen to have some dings on my relatively new car, and not sure either method would work, or if I have the guts to try.

I have used Meguiar's Scratch X on two different cars. It's one of those products that sounds too good to be true, but actually works.

Most likely, your person will want to have the thing done at a body shop, but the info might be useful elsewhere.

And sorry about your tooth. I recommend against Bondo for that.
posted by AppleSeed at 11:07 AM on September 22, 2007

Oops, I think that was p. 370, and it's an older edition where she was writing about fixing up a beat up Mustang.
posted by AppleSeed at 11:08 AM on September 22, 2007

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