The difference between a repair quote and an estimate causes no end of conflict between repairers and customers.

A common scenario is that the customer claims the final repair cost is higher than was quoted and the repairer is equally adamant that only an estimate was provided.
Appreciating the difference and some clear communication would do a lot to avert such conflicts.


  • An estimate is just that (it’s often an educated guess) and is subject to variation, sometimes by a significant amount. 
  • Estimates are usually given verbally and so substantiating them later can be difficult. 


  • A quote on the other hand is fixed and binding unless varied by mutual agreement, such as when unforeseeable additional work is found to be needed. 
  • A quote should be in writing and detail the work to be done, the parts to be supplied and the total cost of the job. 
  • A verbal quote can be binding as well, but proving what was said becomes the issue and this can be all but impossible to do. 
  • As a rule of thumb, work on, ‘If it’s not in writing - it’s not a quote’.

Don’t assume that a quote will always be provided for free. 

  • Preparing a proper quote may involve diagnosis, dismantling and / or inspection to check on the exact repair required.  
  • Much ringing around to locate parts and get prices can also be required. 
  • The repairer may legitimately charge for this work.
Some repairers will absorb the cost of a quote if the job goes ahead, but expect to pay if you decide not to have the work done. The repairer could also charge for the time taken to reassemble the vehicle if you choose not to have it repaired.

For more related information, see Dealing with repair problems.