Weather slams auto shops with slammed vehicles

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A good body repair person can tell what happened to a vehicle in for repair by looking at the damage.

“That one was down in the ditch up in the front, took the bumper and the right fender,” Burton Heights Auto Body Shop owner Jim Kilbourne pointed out as he walked around his busy shop floor Wednesday.

“Lost it on the highway. You can see the cement marks on it. Flat tire,” he continued, pointing to another vehicle. “We got one here that a tree came down on. You can see the back window’s broke out.”

He’s been dealing with winter weather-related damage to cars nonstop for about two and a half weeks.

“Probably right now we’re seeing more suspension damage. Stuff like that, where you’re sliding, hitting the curb,” Kilbourne, a third-generation body man, explained.

This nasty winter weather has created a backlog of work. When 24 Hour News 8 contacted several body shops Wednesday, they all said the same thing: They’re slammed. Business has doubled in some cases. At least once shop is so busy it has had to stop taking jobs.

Kilbourne’s not to that point.  

“We’re about two weeks out right now, depending on what the job is and how parts are involved, what kind of car,” Kilbourne said.

And that’s if your vehicle is not drivable. If it’s still roadworthy, you’ll have to make an appointment and wait till things calm down.

“You like to service everybody as quick as you can, but sometimes you’ve got to get the guy who’s really in trouble,” Kilbourne said.

It’s not just a volume of work at body shops that’s causing the wait. Insurance adjusters are backed up, too. And in some cases, part deliveries are being delayed due to the weather.

“If you’re waiting on a fender, you can’t paint the car. That’s one of the critical things you need to have,” Kilbourne said.

The average repair cost is between $2,200 and $2,500. Your out-of-pocket will depend on your insurance deductible.  

And the best advice from the repair guys if you want to stay out of their shop? Slow down.

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