70 Auto Body Terms You Need To Know
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70 Auto Body Terms You Need To Know

The Auto Body Repair Terms You Must Know

Southern Auto Body understands that it can sometimes be unnerving dealing with all the ‘Auto Body Terms’ or ‘Lingo’ that your shop may use. That is why we have put together a comprehensive list of auto body terms and definitions that you need to know.

Following an accident you are probably going to have a lot of questions for your insurance company, adjuster, and auto body shop – we want you to understand exactly what they are saying in response. Staying educated is going to ensure that you are getting the best service possible and that you and your vehicle are being properly taking care of.

There are a lot of auto body terms used in the collision repair industry and it is not always easy to understand what is going on. At Southern Auto Body we want you to know exactly what is happening with your vehicle, and throughout the entire repair process.

Below you will find a comprehensive list of auto body terms that you need to know:  


An accelerator is added to paint to help speed the curing time of a coating.


Additives are chemicals that are added to help improve specific characteristics of certain substances (eg. automotive paint).  

Alternate colour

This auto body term is used to describe the colour matching of paint to a verifiable OEM colour.

Additional operation

An additional operation is simply a process that may be needed in combination with the repair or replacement of a specific vehicle part (aka wheel balancing).  


An adjustor is an insurance company representative that is tasked with the verification of coverage and the settlement of claims regarding your motor vehicle collision.  

Aftermarket part

Aftermarket parts are parts that were not produced with the original vehicle manufacturer (OEM).

Appearance allowance

This auto body term refers to compensation provided by an insurance company for repairs that have not been performed. This type of compensation is very rare and is usually only provided for superficial damages.


An appraiser’s job is to inspect a damaged vehicle and determine what repairs, or replacement parts are required  in order to restore a vehicle to the condition it was in prior to a collision. This auto body term is often used interchangeably with the auto body term “estimator”.


An appraisal will determine what the cost of repairing your vehicle will be. This auto body term is interchangeable with the auto body term “estimate”.  

Bare substrate

Bare substrates are any materials that do not have a coating of primer or paint.


A basecoat is a highly pigmented colour that will require a clear coat in order to provide protection, durability, and gloss.

Basecoat/clear coat system

When a two-stage finish consisting of a colour coat and a clear coat is used it is often referred to as a basecoat/clear coat system.


A betterment improves a vehicle beyond its pre-accident condition. Sometimes referred to as a betterment charge, it usually incurs an additional charge to the vehicle owner.

Body filler

A very common auto body term, body filler refers to a material commonly used on bare substrate auto body parts, most commonly to fill dents.


The term casualty can often be misinterpreted as pertaining only to people, where it often can refer to any liability of loss in the accident.

Clear Coat

Sometimes also referred to as Clean Coat, this terms refers a pigment-free paint which provides gloss and protection to a vehicles paint.


A coat refers to a single layer of paint applied to a vehicles surface.


This auto term refers to the use of abrasive polishing materials that can be either by machine or by hand. The term Compounding is often used interchangeably with the auto body term polishing.


Often referred to as rusting, corrosion is the breakdown of a metal due to oxidation. The process requires that a metal surface be exposed to oxygen, and usually water.


This auto body term refers to the amount of the claim that is paid by the insured party.


Auto Detailing can refer to either interior, or exterior detailing. This is a final cleaning of the vehicle and is the last step when preparing a vehicle for a customer.

Diminished value

The Diminished Value of a vehicle is calculated by comparing the value of the vehicle pre-accident, the amount of damage caused by the accident, and the post-repair value of the vehicle.

Direct Gloss

Direct Gloss is a topcoat of paint which provides a gloss finish without the need for a clear coat. Direct Gloss paint often provides a good level of durability.

Direct Repair Program

Also referred to as a DRP, a Direct Repair Program is usually a contractual agreement between an insurance company and an Auto Body Repair Shop. These programs are generally used to maintain standardized procedures, set rules, billing practices, and maintain a high level of record keeping.

Edge-To-Edge Repair

One of the less common auto body terms, Edge-To-Edge-Repair refers to the complete repair of a panel as opposed to a spot, or touch-up repair.


Upon the inspection of a damaged vehicle, an estimator will prepare an Estimate outlining the required costs involved in repairing the vehicle to pre-accident condition.

Field inspection

An inspection where the appraiser/estimator goes to the Location of a damaged vehicle to write an estimate.

Final bill

In auto body terms, much like in a regular transaction, a Final Bill is a detailed invoice laying out what repairs were actually performed and should include an itemized list of all parts used.

First party claimant

One of the less known auto body terms, a First Party Claimant refers to the vehicle owners insurance company that will be covering the cost of all repairs performed.  

Flat rate labour

Flat rate labor refers to the suggested amount of time that is required to repair, or remove and replace a part or perform any labor.  


In auto body terms the use of the word Frame references the tubular steel, rectangular, or square steel under-car that to which the body, drive train, engine, and suspension are attached.


A glaze is a fine polishing material that is applied to provide gloss and shine.


The gloss is a measured reflectance of light off of the painted surfaces of a vehicle.


In auto body terms the word hardness refers to the resistance of a paint film to surface damage.

Hazardous waste/hazardous material charge

The disposal of hazardous waste by an auto body shop often incurs a charge. This is to ensure that the waste is disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.

Insurance estimate

The insurance estimate is the initial assessment of damages and costs to repair those damages performed to act as a guideline for carrying out the required repairs to a damaged vehicle.


This refers to an individual’s coverage by their own insurance carrier.

Labor rate

Labor specifically quoted in dollars per hour and based on specific labor categories – essentially the dollar amount that is applied to flat rate labor.


The auto body term liability refers to an individual being legally liable for damages or injuries caused.

Like Kind and Quality

Also referred to as LKQ this auto body term refers to the replacement of a part with a used part. Usually, these parts are inspected by both the buyer and the seller to ensure the condition and quality of the piece.


The action of masking is simply the temporary covering of areas which will not be painted.


An auto body term used to refer to finishes that incorporate fine metallic particles in the paint.

Motor Manufacturers Primer

Also referred to as OE Primer, this is an undercoat system applied by a manufacturer to the metal surfaces or panel parts to provide protection during transport and storage.


Original equipment manufacturer.


Oxidation is the chemical reaction between oxygen and another substance, which can cause paint film curing, paint film failure, or metal rusting.

Paint & materials

This auto body term is often mean to reference a charge for paint products, and other materials used to repair your vehicle.


The pigment is the colouring matter in paint.


The term prep simply refers to the process of washing, degreasing and panel panel preparation prior to applying paint.


Before painting a vehicle’s metal surfaces a chemical treatment takes place to enhance adhesion and corrosion resistance.


The Primer is the first layer of a coating system applied directly to an unpainted surface.

Pre-loss condition

This term refers to the overall condition of the vehicle immediately prior to the loss.

Primary impact

The area of the vehicle to which the most severe damage was sustained is referred to as the area of primary impact.

Quality recycled part

A used part most often acquired from a salvage yard.

Quality replacement part

A new part that is not OEM. These parts are sold by someone other than the original vehicle manufacturer.


R&I stands for Remove and Install. This auto body term refers to a part that is removed from the damaged vehicle, saved, and reinstalled after the repairs have been completed.


R&R stands for Remove and Replace. One of the more popular auto body terms, R&R refers to a part that is removed from the damaged vehicle and cannot be repaired. These parts are replaced.


Refinishing is the act of repairing or replacing a painted surface.

Related prior damage

Related Prior Damage refers to damage that the vehicle had sustained prior to the current loss. Because these parts are not considered to have been in their original condition prior to the current loss, an estimator will deduct a determined amount from the cost to repair or replace that part.

Repair Authorization

When a consumer or insurance provider authorizes the repair of the vehicle.

Salvage value

The salvage value of a vehicle is the amount a salvage yard will pay for a damaged vehicle.

Shop estimate

The preliminary assessment of damages and costs of repairs performed by the auto body shop.

Spot repair

Spot repair is the process of repairing only a portion of a part, panel, or vehicle.


Subletting is the process of hiring a 3rd party to perform services relating to the repair of a vehicle.


Subrogation occurs when an insurance company pursues another insurance company for payment.


The substrate is the unpainted or uncoated surface of the vehicle.

Total loss

In auto body terms a Total Loss refers to a situation when the repair costs will exceed the value of the repaired vehicle.


Touch-ups are repairs that are very localised, and confined to the smallest area possible.


The undercoat refers to the coatings below the top color coat. Their purpose is to help with adhesion and corrosion resistance


This type of vehicle body construction does not require a separate frame in order to provide amble structural support for the vehicles mechanical components.


VIN is an auto body term that refers to a Vehicles Identification Number – specific to that exact vehicle. These numbers have been assigned to each individual vehicle by its manufacturer. The VIN will identify the model, year, production sequence, and other vehicle-specific information like equipment options installed at the factory.


Southern Auto Body is Edmonton’s oldest family owned body shop so we have been through and understand that it is not always easy to understand auto body repair language.

We want to ensure that you fully understand the repair process, from start to finish, and we hope that the above glossary of Auto Body Terms will help to guide you through the Auto Body Repair process.

If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to book your vehicle in with us please, do not hesitate to visit us online or give us a call today at 780-433-2402.

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