Auto Body Terms to Know

Auto Body Terms to Know

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

Here is a comprehensive list of auto body terms that you need to know:


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

Aftermarket (A/M) parts - Automotive replacement parts that were not made by the original equipment manufacturer.

Appraiser - 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”.

Betterment - A betterment improves a vehicle beyond its pre-accident condition. Sometimes referred to as a betterment charge.

Body filler - Refers to a material commonly used on bare substrate auto body parts, most commonly to fill dents.

Compounding - This auto term refers to the use of abrasive polishing materials that can be either by machine or by hand. Used interchangeably with the term polishing.

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

Direct Repair Program (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.

Frame - References the tubular steel, rectangular, or square steel under-car that to which the body, drive train, engine, and suspension are attached.

Frame Time aka Frame Labour - Type of labor performed while performing pulls on a frame rack, R&R, and repairing frame/structural components (e.g. frame rails, realignment structure of unibody, etc.)

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.

Like Kind and Quality (LKQ) – Refers to a used part salvaged from another vehicle, being of the same year or newer & same condition or better. It is inspected by the seller and re-inspected by the shop upon receipt and accepted if it is deemed appropriate.

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

O.E.M.  - Acronym for Original Equipment Manufacturer. Refers to a new, unpainted part supplied by the manufacturer of the same year, make, and model vehicle.

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

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

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 - Acronym for Remove and Install. Refers to a part removed from the customer’s damaged vehicle to be saved and reinstalled after the repair has been completed.

R&R - Acronym for Remove and Replace. Refers to a part removed from the customer’s damaged vehicle that cannot be acceptably repaired. It is replaced with a new part.

Related prior damage - 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.

Salvage value – The amount a salvage yard will pay for a damaged vehicle.

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

Substrate - The unpainted or uncoated surface of the vehicle.

Total loss - Refers to a situation when the repair costs will exceed the value of the repaired vehicle.

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

VIN - 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.