Ask the people at a body shop. That's part of their job. Asking that question here is like asking how much a sweater should cost at Walmart. WAY too many variables to even guess.
A used lift gate for my Grand Caravan cost only 40 bucks, but it cost $150.00 to have it painted the right color. Are they going to be able to pull the dent out and leave no creases? Will it need a whole new outer skin installed? Will it have to be repainted also? Do they have a good used door instead? How much do they charge per hour? Insurance companies refuse to pay the standard going rate, so the shop owner has to cut costs somewhere. Less paint. Less primer. Less than perfect surface prep. Less expensive material. Failure to spray rustproofing on the new panel. Not perfectly-shaped or aligned weatherstripping.
If the insurance company will pay the bill, why do you care what the cost might be? Also, the paint on a four-year-old car will be slightly faded. A repainted door will often not match the rest of the body for a year or two. Some people will scream bloody murder if it doesn't match perfectly and someone else is paying the bill, but they won't say a word if they're paying the bill themselves and being charged by the hour to make it perfect. When body shops prepare an estimate, they have to be prepared for the inevitable picky, crabby customer.
Some shops only employ very highly experienced people. They can get the job done very quickly but charge more per hour. Some shops help new people get started in the business. They take longer but it will cost you less per hour. All shops will give you a written estimate listing hours and tenths of an hour for each part of the job, and a cost for material. These numbers come from an estimating guide to help them be consistent with their competitors down the road. Experienced people will beat these times and, in effect, earn more bucks per hour. That's their reward for buying better tools, investing in factory training, and doing conscientious, quality work the first time. Less-experienced people will take longer than the "book" time and may have to do parts of the job over to get it right. By following the book times, you don't pay extra even though it's costing the shop owner more money to do the work.
Finally, don't be too upset if there's a little spec of dirt in the new paint. When my friend was asked if he could properly match the factory paint on the customer's Chevy Blazer, he replied, "no; I can't paint that bad". If you look at any car's paint job, you will see all kinds of dirt and imperfections in the finish. This is common and normal. We only tend to notice on the repaired panels because that's what we scrutinize. No one inspects a new car that much when they buy it.
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009 AT 2:39 PM