Here are 5 key tips in getting an accurate car repair estimate:

Whether your car has been scratched or has met with a collision, always make sure you get an accurate car repair estimate. Not getting an accurate estimate can result in you not being able to get the best value from your auto insurance.

1. Always check the requirements in your state. Your state may require that a shop informs you of excess costs and time required to have your car repair completed, which is a good thing. Research on the minimum coverage needed that will allow you to have adequate coverage when having your vehicle repaired. You can contact your state Attorney Generalís office if you are unsure of your rights in this area.

2. Make sure that the car repair estimate you are getting has specific information on the exact costs and the amount of time needed to fix your car. Consider every car part that needs to be replaced, the level of impact caused by the damage or collision, and how much you are going to be charged for the labor. Some shops charge for repairs based on the hour and others charge a flat rate. So if you are looking for an accurate car repair estimate, make sure to inquire about these rates. Obtain a written price estimate that consists of itemized prices for the parts and labor time needed to repair your car.

3. Keep updated and make sure you are being informed about the supplemental estimate and final price agreed between your claims representative and the auto repair shop after reviewing the initial repair estimate. If you have parts in the interiors of your car that are damaged and were unnoticed during inspection, a re-inspection may be required in the auto repair shop and this can affect the overall costs involved in repairing the additional damage. At this point, the shopís estimate can either be lower or higher than your claims representativeís estimate, so a negotiation for the best price will be discussed.

4. Research on information over the Internet. You will be able to find unbiased information in auto clubs and auto repair databases. You will also have the opportunity to use free online estimators where you can determine various types of damage ranging from miniscule to extensive damage. Furthermore, online estimators can determine if the damage on your car goes beyond your deductible. If youíd like to find probable costs for car part replacements you might want to go directly to the website of your carís brand. This way you get more accurate repair estimates. Researching for information over the Internet can provide you a birdís eye view on what your actual car repair estimate might be when speaking with a claims and auto repair shop representative.

5. Get a second opinion and obtain at least 3 estimates from actual auto repair shops. An auto repair shop should not hinder you from finding a second opinion. When asking for a second opinion, make sure you know exactly what needs to be repaired. Complain about more specific indications of damage like tacky performance, strange sounds or too much vibration. If you simply ask the mechanic to repair the whole car you might get a car repair estimate that is vague and far from accurate. Furthermore, an auto repair shop may ask for other car parts to be disbanded for further inspection or to reach the root of the damage. If this happens, there may be additional charges, so it is always best to get a second opinion elsewhere in case disassembling is actually unnecessary.