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What is a panel replacement?
Panel replacement involves replacing certain panels on your car, due to them being damaged beyond repair. In other circumstances, panels can be replaced to change the look of your car or increase the performance of your car by fitting panels that are lighter in weight.
How to tell if you need a panel replacement
If your car has been damaged, there are generally a few courses of action you can take. The first is to just leave it damaged. If you’re not worried about physical appearances and the damaged panels or parts aren’t at risk of causing even more damage (by flying off whilst you're driving) you can simply leave it as it is.
The second is to get the panel/s repaired. Some damage is easily repairable and can be done in a relatively cost-effective way to get your car looking good as new.
The third option is replacing the panel completely.
Replacing the panel is what you’ll need to do when the panel in question is so badly damaged that repair is not possible, or simply is not worth it. Also, panels that are missing altogether will, obviously, need to be replaced.
A smash repair specialist, body shop or panel beater will be able to tell you whether or not you’ll need to replace certain panels or not. Often, visible damage does not tell the whole story, and there might be hidden structural damage that requires a panel replacement.
How important is it to replace a damaged panel?
It depends on the damage that you’re faced with. The first step is to get your panels inspected by a smash repair specialist who’ll be able to tell you pretty quickly what options you have. If they say that you need to completely replace the panel instead of repair it, it’s probably best to follow their advice.
It means that your existing panel is no longer suitable to do the job it was built to do, whether that be to stand strong in the event of a collision, or simply just stay attached to your vehicle when travelling at high speeds.
If they say that you don’t need a replacement, and can get away with a repair, then happy days!
How is a panel replaced?
Replacing a panel is generally pretty straightforward but can vary depending on whether you get a second hand one or a brand new replacement.
If you get a secondhand panel that’s the same colour as your car, you’re in luck, as it’s just a simple process of removing the damaged panel and installing the replacement. If the paint on the replacement panel is in a similar condition to the adjacent panels on your car, there may be no need for paint matching.
If you get a brand new panel, it might not have paint on it at all so you’ll need to get it painted and colour matched to the rest of your car. Depending on how old it is, your car most likely has slightly faded paint, so keep in mind that it’ll be extremely hard to exactly match the paint up.
The new panel will most likely be painted before it’s installed on your car, and then once it’s on some additional paint correction and paint matching will take place.
How much does a panel replacement cost?
How long is a piece of string? But in all seriousness, providing an estimated panel replacement cost here is so hard because there are multiple key variables in the final cost.
What car is the replacement panel for?
Let’s say you’re looking to replace the bonnet on your Toyota hatchback runabout. It’s a relatively small car and quite common, so you might be looking at a few hundred dollars to replace the bonnet. There may be a range of good quality second-hand spares, and brand new replacements might be quite easy to get. Now, on the other hand, the other car in your garage happens to be a high-end European luxury car. Replacing the bonnet on that will almost definitely be more expensive. This comes down to fewer second-hand parts on the market, and genuine replacements being harder, and more expensive, to source and deliver.
What panel are you replacing?
Different panels can cost different amounts to replace. For instance, a plastic front or rear bumper will probably be cheaper to replace than a metal door or bonnet.
Are you going genuine, aftermarket, or second-hand?
Genuine factory replacements for body panels can be quite expensive, if they’re even available, but there are aftermarket options which can be even more expensive. These come in the form of fibreglass or carbon fibre panels that are developed to reduce the weight of the car, by replacing their steel counterparts.
On the opposite end, you may be able to find a second-hand replacement for your damaged panel at a car wrecking yard. Once you factor in the cost of potentially needing to re-spray the panel to match the colour of your car, it still may be cheaper than replacing it with a brand new panel.
In light of all this, a panel replacement could cost you as little as $100, or as much as multiple thousands of dollars. The easiest way to get find out how much it will cost to replace a specific panel is to call into your local smash repair business and ask them to provide a quote.
Where can you get a panel replacement?
Any smash repair business will be able to help you out with a panel replacement. They can assess the damage and depending on your budget, will be able to suggest the most appropriate course of action.
They’ll also be the best equipped to source a potential replacement panel for you, do to their extensive contacts and relationships within the industry. This will potentially save you a lot of time trying to source your own panels, and also avoid the possibility of you accidentally purchasing the incorrect one.