Auto Collision Repair Timeline: What You Should Know

Auto Collision Repair Timeline: What You Should Know
If your car has been in a collision and needs repairs, you’ll need to take it to a body shop. Car repair times vary based on several factors. These include how badly the car is damaged, what parts need fixing or replacing, and whether it requires new glass or paint. Other aspects, like ordering parts and dealing with insurance, can also prolong the repair process. An auto collision shop is equipped to explain the various factors influencing your car’s repair time and provide an estimated duration for the work. Understanding the details of auto accident repairs and their potential timelines helps you know what to expect after a crash.

Car Accident Repair Timeline

When a professional body shop takes your vehicle in for car accident repairs, the process is divided into three major phases: initial estimation, car repair time, and final quality controls. The general procedure is similar for minor and major collision repairs, but the time may vary depending on the work needed.

Phase 1: Initial Reviews

  • Step 1: Initial Assessment (2-4 hours). Auto body shops will examine your vehicle in detail. They will visually inspect every part of your vehicle, take pictures, and use diagnostics tools to get a complete overview. Once they have determined which parts need repairs, replacement, or readjustment, the shop will use industry-standard estimates for each part and provide an estimated cost and repair timeline.
  • Step 2: Insurance Review (3-5 days). If your insurance provider is covering the costs of your collision repairs, they must communicate with the shop, review their estimates, and approve them.
On average, a case should take about 3 to 5 days to approve. However, the less complex the case, the more likely insurance will return a response and approve it. For example, it likely won’t take longer than 48 hours for your insurance company to approve minor front-end repairs like grille repairs or headlight restoration.

Phase 2: Repairs and Parts Replacement

  • Step 1: Ordering Parts (0-7 days). After receiving approval from your insurance provider, the repair shop will take your vehicle and begin the car collision repairs by ordering the new parts your car needs. The time needed to receive all parts depends on the number, cost, manufacturer, and availability. Standard parts can typically be ordered within a day if not already in the shop, while special orders may require more than a week.
  • Step 2: Second Inspection (0-2 days). As the auto body shop starts disassembling your car to prepare it for repairs, they will conduct a secondary inspection to check for potential additional repairs. This process is necessary because not all damage may be immediately visible during the initial assessment. If any extra damage has been detected, they will notify you and may need extra time to order additional parts.
  • Step 3: Mechanical Repairs (2-7+ days). Once all parts have been received, the shop will start repairing the car, beginning with structural damage. The work’s extent depends on the impact’s severity and the number of parts requiring repairs or replacement. Minor collision repairs, such as removing dents and scratches or replacing bumpers and lights, usually require 48 to 72 hours. Major work, such as suspension repairs, engine and drivetrain issues, frame damage, or electrical system repairs, can take a week or more to complete.
  • Step 4: Repainting and Refinishing (0-3 days). Auto damage can scratch your car’s paint and finish. A professional auto body shop will include repainting and refinishing into the car crash repair estimate if necessary. Depending on damage and paint availability, the process can take between a few hours and multiple days.

Phase 3: Final Checks

  • Step 1: Quality controls (24 hours). After completing all repairs, professional body shops give the car a final inspection, test drive the car, and may clean and detail the car.
  • Step 2: Customer walk-through. Once the car has passed the shop’s quality control process, it is ready for pickup and a walk-through of the repairs.

Factors Affecting Your Car’s Repair Time

While you can estimate each step of the repair process, several factors can change how long a professional body shop needs to give your car full repairs, including:
  • Damage Severity. The primary factor influencing automobile repair times is the overall extent of the damage that needs fixing. Minor dents may take just a few hours to repair, whereas extensive front-end repairs are a multi-day task that can involve engine service, suspension repairs, and wheel realignment.
  • Vehicle Type. Repair times for cars with high production numbers tend to be shorter because they are more likely to use standard, commonly available parts. Expensive, luxury, vintage and foreign vehicles are more likely to use specialized parts or require specially trained mechanics.
  • Repair Shop Workloads. Professional body shops are also working on other customers’ vehicles while they repair yours. If your mechanics are experiencing a busy season, expect repairs to take a few extra days to complete.
  • Your insurance provider. If your insurer covers your auto crash repairs, they need to review, negotiate, and approve your claim. Because of this, you should expect the repair process to take a few extra days to complete.

Average Repair Time by Part Type

Each type of auto damage repair and parts replacement requires different tasks, explaining why repair times can vary so much. Here are the average industry-standard repair times for some of the most common types of auto repairs:
Repair Type Duration Description
Minor Collision Repairs
1-3 days
Involves fixing small dents, scratches, and chipped paint. Work typically takes up to 24 hours but can take up to 3 days for multiple scratches or repainting large areas.
Major Collision Repairs
1-3 weeks
Bumper, Fender or Door Repairs/Replacement
1-4 days
Common repairs for parts frequently damaged in collisions. Includes solutions like paintless dent repairs or paint touch-ups.
Windshield Replacement
1-2 days
Replacement takes about a day for lightly damaged windshields, including adhesive curing. Heavily damaged or shattered windshields require more time to remove broken pieces, adding an extra day.
Airbag Replacement
2-5 days
Necessary when airbags are deployed in a collision. Involves inspecting sensors, replacing old airbags, and conducting other repairs.
Full Restoration Work
4-8 weeks or more
Applicable for vehicles heavily damaged and declared totaled. Involves a complete overview and likely replacement of most major components. Duration can extend to several weeks or months, especially for rare, unique, or valuable vehicles.

Contact a Professional Auto Body Shop for More Information

Knowing the average car repair time estimates can assist you in planning your schedule more effectively. Whether it’s a minor fender bender or a major collision, ask your auto repair shop for an estimated timeline and a quote.

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