Could Your Car Still Have Issues After An Extensive (and expensive) Collision Repair?

No matter who you talk to, go backs are never desired in the industry. But what are they? Go backs happen when a customer realizes there is a problem with the repair after they’ve gotten their car back. Not only are go backs an inconvenience to the body shops, but they are also completely undesirable for the customers. Yet, even with all the advancements in collision repair, there’s still a large number of unsatisfied customers. A new study shows that the dissatisfaction rate climbs the higher the repair cost significantly.

In the collision repair industry, we use software to write estimates and run the business. What you’ll see most body shops use is a software called CCC. Because CCC has access to the data from almost every auto body shop in the country, they also publish trends reports, along with valuable information found in the reports. Most of the time, these reports contain consumer information, average repair times, and issues that face body shops nationwide, such as parts shortages or materials cost increases.

There are times when the trends in collision repair can be worrisome, and that’s when they really stand out to us as the body shop. In fact, CCC recently published a report stating customers are satisfied with their collision repair as long as the repairs total less than $10,000. But when repairs cross the $10,000 mark, customer satisfaction climbs sharply to 26.6%. That’s more than one in four cars repaired, and that is shocking. 

The industry average for go-backs regardless of price is 10.9%. So just over one in ten repairs results in an issue at most auto body shops. 

At repairs between 1 cent and $500, 5% of vehicles are returned to the shop for some reason, according to the CCC data. Typically, these are cosmetic repairs because it is rare for a $500 repair to involve any structural repair. This could be from scratches visible under the paint, or a piece of trim that has come loose.

However, the average repair cost for collision repair in 2018 was $3,053. So what happens with satisfaction after the $3,000 repair threshold? 

When collision repair bills jump to the $3,000-$4,000 range, the percentage of the vehicle go backs also jumps to 12%. So the numbers climb past the industry average. If the repairs hit the $4,000-$5,000 brackets, 14.5 percent of vehicles are returned.

At the $5,000-$10,000 brackets, 17.7% of vehicles are brought back. That’s more than one out of every six of your customers coming back with a problem.

And finally, we reach 26.6 percent of vehicles needing some redo when the repair bill exceeded $10,000.

So why does this happen, and what does it mean for you?

Unfortunately, many customers who are needing collision repair don’t even know what they are buying, what certain things mean, how important a repair procedure is for their car, what it means for their safety, the quality, etc. You might even be in the same place, not sure what to buy or what certain things mean. To you (and many other customers), if the car looks repaired, then that means the shop did a good job, right? Not necessarily. In fact, as we saw above, over 26% of customers are unsatisfied with their repair when it’s over $10,000. That’s more than one in every four cars!

 The car may appear fixed, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving. There could be numerous issues lying underneath the surface of your car that you may not be aware of, simply because a body shop did not repair your vehicle the right way, or cut a corner by repairing instead of replacing a damaged part.

And then some customers drive out of an auto body parking lot, and something isn’t right. Maybe the car leaks now, or the steering feels funny. Maybe there a rattle that wasn’t there before, or you notice that in the right sunlight, the paint doesn’t match. At this point, your only options are to call the insurance company or return to the shop and ask them to have another look. 

Cycle time and length of rental issues

The more expensive the repair, the longer the repair takes. Complicating this issue is the fact that repairs are more expensive now than in previous years.

According to CCC director and lead analyst Susanna Gotsch, “the average repair bill sits around $4,000 for the current model year.”

One of the biggest reasons for more expensive repairs is because the cost of purchasing a vehicle has increased significantly due to improved safety technologies and additional advanced features. The average new car loan increased over $1,000 from April-June of last year (Experian). Not to mention, the changes in vehicles have attributed to the increased costs in repairs. 

Take a look at the image below. These are the most recent changes seen in vehicles that have added to the more expensive repair costs:

As you can see in the above image, the updates in modern-day vehicles have made collision repair far more complicated than what it was even just five years ago. Because of the increased complexity of car repair, body shops need to charge more to get the job done and it requires a specific skillset from the technicians.

Cycle time refers to how long it takes to repair your vehicle. Because the cycle time ends up taking longer than anticipated and drivers are still without their car, insurance companies are having to rethink rental policies since the length of rental covered in most policies (typically 3-5 days) doesn’t last as long as the repair process. When a customer has to pay out of pocket for their rental car, it creates immediate dissatisfaction for both the insurance company and the body shop. 

Most body shops will do whatever they can to keep the insurance company happy and not go past the allotted rental period, even if it means cutting a few corners with the repair. Quality suffers, and go backs increase.

Your insurance company promises to be your advocate for collision repair, but they also are directed to spend the least amount of money possible for the repair. This puts the pressure on the repair shop to meet their deadlines so it can stay within the length of the rental. The numerous changes in cars have increased the costs of repairs as well as repair complexity. If a technician follows the top quality repair procedures laid out by the car manufacturer, it’s going to take longer than the “quick fix” an insurance company wants. 

On-time delivery

The largest source of dissatisfaction comes when a body shop misses its promise date for vehicle delivery. On-time delivery also seems to worsen more dramatically than other statistics. Industry-wide, customers reported on-time delivery 87.5 percent of the time. For repairs between $0.01 and $500, shops hit that target 94.5 percent of the time.

At the $3,000-$4,000 range, body shops are already below the average, making deadline 86.3 percent of the time. When the repair cost crossed over the $10,000 bracket, the industry average for auto body shops hitting their mark is only 70.9 percent of the time. This means 1 out of every 4 vehicles is delivered later than promised.

Bottom Line

Customers who have expensive car repairs in the $10,000 or above range may face longer repair times, out of pocket rental car expenses, and a lack of communication from the body shop. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way and you can get your car repaired somewhere that will do it the right way! If you choose a good quality local auto body shop and not one of the nation’s largest chain body shops, you will get an owner-operator who is communicating with their customers, performing quality repairs, and managing their deadlines.

We look forward to hearing from you and helping you with your auto repair needs!