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Dingit: Body shop estimates vary by 200%

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Jan. 24, 2012—The estimated cost of collision repairs can vary between shops by more than 200 percent, according to a recent study conducted by auto body Internet technology company Dingit.

DingIT’s study surveyed a large number of collision repair estimates submitted by body shops for the same vehicle damage. The damage estimates ranged from $200 to $690. DingIT said 26 percent of the damage estimates it received were between $200 and $400, 57 percent were between $400 and $600, and 17 percent were more than $600.

The distribution of the study’s results show that the low or high-cost estimates were not just outliers or the result of mistakes, DingIT said. Twenty-six percent of the estimates received were in the $200 range, which indicates that those estimates were real rather than attempts to attract customers with low offers.

DingIT said collision repair shops have begun relying heavily on software programs to estimate auto body damage. Those programs allow shops to locate parts, parts costs and work durations for every task involved in repairs in order to obtain consistent estimating practices.

But there still many decisions left up to the individual judgment of the person estimating repairs, which causes a wide range of cost estimates, DingIT said. Factors such as part types, repair or replace decisions, estimated labor hours, rental vehicles, and the inclusion of supplemental parts or labor can have significant impacts on repair costs estimated for consumers.

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