How Long Does Collision Repair Take?
According to the CDC, about 2 million car collisions occur yearly. Car accidents are fairly common. Anyone in a car accident understands that car collisions are anything but a fair affair. Collisions can be deeply distressing due to financial strain, disruption to your routine, and, most importantly, the potential harm and emotional trauma that stem from injuries.
Moreover, the technical knowledge and specialized equipment required to perform repairs properly render collision repair a task best left to trained professionals. Car repairs can take anywhere between 2 days (for the simplest repairs) to a few months (for severe damage), depending on several factors.
Factors That Influence Repair Timelines
Repair times are treated on a case-by-case basis. Each car is unique, as are the circumstances of an accident. The most significant factors that affect repair timelines are:
Severity of Damage
The extent of the damage sustained by your vehicle is the primary factor. Damage ranges from simple fender benders to high-impact collisions. The severity of damage determines whether certain parts can be repaired or require a replacement.
Part replacement typically takes longer than car repairs because technicians must disassemble an affected part and install (and sometimes calibrate) the replacement. Part replacement also involves logistics, which is a factor explained in detail in the next item.
Availability of Parts
Part availability is a major logistical problem because manufacturers don’t always have every part in stock. Some parts for particular models are more difficult to secure than others. This is especially the case for rare and exclusive vehicles.
Moreover, some parts may need to be sourced from different locations, which involves shipping time, potential delays, and sometimes, manufacturing time. Some parts can take weeks to acquire.
Specialty parts have low demand and are therefore not always readily available. These include but are not limited to:
- Structural parts like rocker panels, frame rails, and frame extensions
- Attachment parts with clips and mounting brackets
- Parts for exclusive cars and rare vehicles
- Parts affected by manufacturer production issues or holidays
Technicians’ Expertise and Workload
Technician expertise directly impacts how quickly and effectively they can repair or replace parts. While most licensed technicians are well-trained, exceptional technicians can perform repairs more efficiently. However, they are also likely to be in high demand and have a heavy workload.
Insurance and Claims Process
The insurance and claims process is the most complex factor affecting repair timelines because many variables are in play. [Using anchor text “Vehicle repairs can be costly, “please insert an internal link to soon-to-be-published Shop Talk article: Collision Repair - How Much Does Auto Body Repair Cost]. It’s why insurance providers take great care in ascertaining an accident’s circumstances and determining whether their insurance coverage is applicable.
A repair shop cannot start working on your vehicle without your insurance company’s approval. Different policies also include stipulations on policy coverage, allowable parts, the severity of damage covered, and liability.
Additionally, any issue in insurance claim paperwork can further delay your timeline.
Types of Collision Repairs and Their Estimated Timelines
Different types of repairs require different approaches and, therefore, have varying timelines. Here are a few common repair tasks and their average estimated timelines.
Windshield replacements are typically completed between 20 minutes to two hours, depending on the vehicle model and whether your windshield comes with ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems).
ADAS-equipped windshields will need to be calibrated. This involves a short drive to ensure the proper functioning of critical sensors and cameras.
Minor Auto Body Work
Minor auto body work is categorized as any damage that does not impede a vehicle’s functionality and safety.
These are often limited to cosmetic damage, such as scratches, shallow dents, and chipped paint. Minor auto-body work typically takes one to two days to complete.
Bumper Repair or Replacement
Bumper repairs or replacements are commonly finished in a day (for repairs) to 3 days (for replacement).
In most cases, replacing a cracked bumper is preferable over repairing it because cracks affect the bumper’s integrity and ability to absorb the force of an impact. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for a bumper for a particular model to be out of stock at the dealership.
Replacement of Internal Elements
Internal components are challenging to replace because they involve disassembling all related and connected parts.
The internal components of an engine and transmission are particularly difficult to replace because of the complexity of these systems. The replacement of internal components typically takes up to two weeks.
Extensive Damage to Multiple Parts
Some car accidents are so severe that the force of impact damages multiple parts. The higher the number of parts damaged, the more repairs your vehicle will need to get to pre-collision condition.
Vehicles with multiple damaged components typically need at least a month of repairs. They can span several months, depending on the number of affected parts and the complexity of replacing them.
Dealing with Unsatisfactory Repair Timelines
Time without your vehicle can be a major inconvenience, especially if your insurer (or the at-fault driver) cannot provide you with a rental car in the interim.
There may even be some instances when repair times may be unnecessarily long. While you are protected by the Consumer Rights Act of 2015 and the Auto Repair Law, dealing with long repair timelines can be extremely frustrating. Here are some tips for a measured approach.
Communicating with the Repair Shop and Insurance Provider
If you are unsatisfied with repair timelines, your first step should be to raise your concern with the auto shop that repairs your vehicle. The repair shop is the party that has the greatest influence on how soon you can get your vehicle back on the road. Try to determine what’s taking them so long to finish repairs.
However, if the shop doesn’t give clear answers, is difficult to reach, or gives vague answers about your repair timeline, you should contact your insurer. Your insurance provider can help move your car to a different auto shop if you believe the current shop is unreliable.
If you’ve determined that you no longer want to work with the current garage, you’ll need to find an alternative that’s reliable and trustworthy. Choosing a better alternative is crucial to getting your vehicle back on the road as soon as possible. Understanding how to choose a repair shop is the key to finding an alternative that renders repairs in a timely manner.
Coordinate with your insurer as you explore your options. Remember that while your insurer may recommend alternatives, the consumer (policyholder) will always have the final say regarding the auto repair shop they want to work with.
Tips for Minimizing Repair Time
While technicians will have the greatest influence on repair time, an active approach can help streamline the process and minimize idle time. Here are some ways you can minimize repair times.
Proactive Communication with the Repair Shop
Regular communication with the repair shop can help with planning and coordination. Sometimes, you may even help secure parts from sources the repair shop cannot access. Your willingness to work with the repair shop will also communicate a sense of urgency.
Prompt Decision-making on Repair Options
Many steps in the repair process will require client approval. Making timely decisions can expedite repair by minimizing the wait time between steps. The sooner you make a decision, the sooner technicians can take action.
Scheduling Repairs During Non-peak Periods
The auto repair business is cyclical. Some periods yield a low number of clients, while there are seasons wherein repair shop bays are constantly full. When possible, scheduling your repairs during non-peak periods helps you avoid service queues and can mean that technicians likely have light workloads. Technicians dealing with fewer customers will often mean that they have more time to focus on your work order.
We understand the value of your vehicle and, most especially, your time. That’s why we ensure that our facilities have a complete array of equipment to address many car issues. Our expert technicians are happy to educate our guests on the repair process. Caliber Collision is trusted by all major insurance providers to deliver a streamlined process for all our guests.