Why Car Repairs Have Become So Expensive

New cars and trucks are packed with sensors and technology that protect and pamper drivers and passengers. But those features are also raising the cost of repairs after accidents.

The average cost of making damaged cars good as new has soared 36 percent since 2018, and may top $5,000 by the end of this year, according to Mitchell, a company that provides data and software to insurance companies and auto repair businesses. That big increase is the main reason that insurance premiums have been soaring — up 17 percent in the 12 months through May.

New sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks, including a rapidly growing number of electric models, have become so complex and luxurious that seemingly simple repairs can cost a small fortune, auto experts said. Insurers are often on the hook for much of those costs, leading them to raise their rates.

Materials designed to crumple or deform in a crash to protect pedestrians or passengers, for example, can be hard or impossible to repair. Many bumpers must be replaced after low-speed dings because the safety sensors embedded in them may no longer work properly after repairs. Other systems, even some that do not appear to be damaged, must be inspected or recalibrated.

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