Additional Costs of Using LKQ Quarter Panels

LKQ Quarter Replacement

by DEG Administrator Art Harris

Given the amount of inquiries that we receive at the DEG I assume the replacement of a quarter panel with a used part is still a valid repair scenario for some vehicles. I would challenge that if you look at the necessary steps needed to replace a quarter panel with a used part it could not be cost effective. Now, if you are using a fictitious number like “4 hours” to remove the outer skin from the donor part then yes, on paper, it may be a valid and cost effective repair but I assure you that each vehicle is different and requires different labor times to remove the used quarter from the donor vehicle. Let’s take a closer look:

First, all three estimating systems Audatex, CCC and Mitchell create the time to replace an LKQ quarter panel base on the fact that you will be replacing the outer and inner components as a complete assembly which I am sure is not how most of us are replacing that used panel . Typically we are removing the outer skin and replacing that part only. I think the “4 hours” that some adjusters still use is based on the outdated idea of trimming the parts to be replaced as the entire component inner and outer, which is still incorrect and should vary from vehicle to vehicle.

Second each vehicle requires a different amount of time to remove the outer quarter skin from the donor part. An example could be most vehicles have an excessive amount of foams and sealers that need to be carefully removed so not to damage the LKQ part but that amount varies from each vehicle. If you look at most LKQ quarter prices versus the OEM price the difference is in the $300 to $350 range after markup and by using the fictitious  4 hours, yes, it would be cost effective but if you were to breakdown each step needed , AND charge for that step it will not be cost effective. Think of the amount of time needed just to remove all the components from the donor vehicle;

  1. Quarter glass (on some vehicles)
  2. Back glass or a portion. Most LKQ parts are delivered with a portion of the glass still attached
  3. Moldings and trim
  4. Splash shields
  5. Inner trim inside trunk
  6. Trunk hinge
  7. Quarter vents
  8. Door opening weatherstrips
  9. Door latch on dog leg
  10. Door sensors and plugs located on dog leg

These items alone could account for a majority of the cost saving from the LKQ part versus the OE part and we have not started the removal process yet.

Now that all the additional items are removed from the LKQ part we can look at the tedious task of removing the skin form the donor part. One of the first steps is removing the seam sealers, urethanes and paint from the part to access the spot welds. Looking at a corolla there is about 25+ feet of pinch welds, and flat surfaces that need to be ground to access the welds or to prep the surface for welding. 25 feet!! After that we need to drill out spot welds, which could be 60+ welds, separate the panels, clean the removed panel and dress the flanges that where damaged by removal, clean the matting surfaces then if all goes well we have a part than could be welded to the customer’s vehicle.

Spelling this out on paper does not give it justice. I recommend visiting the DEG website and viewing the video that Toby Chess had completed for a past CIC meeting of the necessary steps needed to remove the outer skin from the donor vehicle. After viewing the video I think you will agree that each vehicle requires its own evaluation of time and the “4 hours” that is typically used IS NOT SUFFICIENT in most repair scenarios. You can view the video by visiting the DEG website at then select the “Get Educated” Tab and click “Knowledge Base”, or by clicking the link here.

One Response to Additional Costs of Using LKQ Quarter Panels

  • Greg Henderson says:

    I don’t understand the “4 hours”….that’s basically “trim time”
    Then the Rand R time tends to be around 10 hours on average…plus the body repair of the bent flange ares that always occur during separation of parts.
    Also considering pull time of rear panel / strut tower etc

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