Auto Body Shop Costs And Labor Rate
We take in consideration several factors that affect the body shop costs, from body and paint work to a fair labor rate.
Here are a few things we look at before arriving at your body shop costs estimate, because ultimately, each car collision/project is different and each client’s specifications are unique.
- Year, make, and model of the vehicle (new,classic, muscle, custom etc.)
- Replace part(s) (used, new, brand name or aftermarket)
- Paint quality (good, better, best)
- Rust damage repair
- Repair part(s)
- Body damage and work
- Paint work
- Structural work
- Custom body work
- Electrical and/or mechanical work
- Completion date
In order for us to better serve you we recommend that you bring in your car to our shop so we may correctly assess the work required. If you have a restoration or custom project, please keep in mind that nobody can exactly predict the total expenses and labor required to make your dream a reality. Realistically speaking, add about 60% to your best estimate.
Our labor rate range is $75-$125 an hour.
Surprised at the body shop costs?
We recommend all our potential clients read the following excerpt:
Talking with a professional auto painter about body shop costs
“Automobile owners with little or no knowledge of the auto body repair and paint business are frequently surprised at the cost of a quality paint job. They have no idea of the amount of work involved during preparation stages before painting, nor of the cost of materials such as primers, sealers, reducers, hardeners, and paint. Uniformed car owners have a difficult time understanding why some companies can paint cars for as little as $99.95, while other shops might charge around $5,000 or more for a top-notch, complete paint job. Of course, there is no real ceiling for the price of a paint job, as the labor involved will vary greatly, depending on what you need to have done.
You Get What You Pay For
Should you decide to have a professional paint your car, remember that you get what you pay for. Outfits that specialize in cheap paint jobs cannot afford to spend a lot of time preparing or masking cars. Their business relies on volume. The more cars they paint, the more money they make. Therefore, sanding and masking work is normally minimal.
Close inspection of vehicles that have been repainted by inexpensive paint shops generally reveals overspray on fender wells, leaf springs, emblems, badges, window trim, spare tires under pickup truck beds, and the life, due to minimal masking. Rough surface spots may receive a quick pass or two with sandpaper, but extra time cannot be allotted for definitive sanding and feathering needs. These shops are not going to remove the bed from your pickup truck to paint the back of the cab either.
Now, should you want a much more thorough paint job than the one just described, and most people do, these shops can provide better quality service. This will, of course, cost you more, with the price of ‘extras’ quickly approaching that of a more thorough, lower volume shop. Inexpensive paint shops are forced to use bulk supplied. Color choices are usually limited to the colors on hand in 55-gallon barrels…
Quality Shops vs. High-Volume Shops
Auto paint shops that specialize in overall quality and customer satisfaction are vastly different from high-volume shops. You will have to pay more for their service, but your car or truck will be meticulously prepared and then painted with a high-quality, durable, and long-lasting paint product. All exterior accessories will be removed, including the bumpers and grille. Masking will be complete and the work required after spray painting will be accomplished professionally.
Skeptics may still not completely understand the enormous differences between paint jobs that cost only a few hundred dollars and those that command thousands. Simply put, professional paint technicians spend hours and hours sanding surfaces to perfection. Then they apply required coats of primer-surfacer to fill in tiny sand scratches and other minute blemishes. Those surfaces are also sanded to perfection.
The amount of prep work performed is what raises the price of automotive paint job. This prep work is what distinguishes the final quality and longevity of the paint job as well…
Once the surface has been meticulously smoothed, coats of sealer are sprayed on to protect undercoats from absorbing potent solvents included in paint. Sufficient drying time must be allotted. Professionals often use high-intensity heat lamps to speed this process. These lamps use a tremendous amount of electricity, which must be figured into estimates as part of the overhead costs.
Color Coat/Clear Coat
After that phase has been completed, color coats are applied and then cured with assistance from heat lamps. Depending upon the type of paint system used, clear coats then might be sprayed over the entire vehicle. Normally, three coats are enough. When the clear has dried, painters carefully inspect car bodies for imperfections. Then 1,200 to 2,000-grit sandpaper is used to smooth blemishes, as needed, and additional coast of clear may be applied.
Satisfied that their job has turned out correctly, painters buff entire vehicle bodies with fine polish and a soft buffed pad. After all of that has been done, parts still have to be replaced. Again, this takes time, as gaskets and seals must be perfectly positioned to function as intended. Care must be taken so that parts are not bumped against newly painted finishes to cause nicks or scratches.
As if that were not enough, each vehicle is then detailed to perfection. I doubt many customers would pay their paint bill if glass, wheels, tires, weather stripping, and other parts of the car were dirty and covered with sanding dust when they arrived to pick it up from the shop. Most quality body shop owners insist that their customers’ cars be detailed before delivery. Their customers enjoy a freshly painted car, and can relish the fact that it has been cleaned to perfection. The car stands out, looks crisp, and is a pleasure to drive.
When shopping for a professional auto painter, be sure to ask if your car will be detailed before delivery. Ask if all exterior accessories will be removed for painting, and whether or not overspray to fender wells and suspension assemblies will be removed or painted over. Be certain that maximum attention will be given to masking, and that quality paint products will be used throughout the job.
Bottom Line: Body Shop Costs
Finding a professional auto paint shop with a reputable track record should not be too difficult. Word of mouth recommendations are generally reliable. If a friend or neighbor has recently had a car painted, ask how he or she feels about the quality of service…”
Dennis W. Parks & David H. Jacobs, Jr.
How To Paint Your Car