(this is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Auto Adjuster’s Playbook. It will be available Summer 2019!) 

It is great to read an entire book on auto damage, but when it comes time to look at a vehicle and remembering what is most important… it can be overwhelming.

When do you blend? What do I need to remove and install? Did I miss any pictures?

These are questions that will come flying up. I know it did for my students. That is why I created the Auto Damage Appraiser Inspection Guide.

This is a single sheet of paper you can put on your clipboard and have all the standard processes you need to consider when refinishing a panel, blend guidelines, photo requirements, plus my repair hours guide all on a single sheet.

Click HERE to get a copy you can print.

How to Use the Auto Damage Appraiser Inspection Guide

There is a lot of information on this single page, but it can be broken down into 4 different sections/guides.

1. R&I, Refinish and Blend Guide

The picture of the vehicle has all the major exterior parts that typically get painted. You can see the list below,

  • Bumper
  • Hood
  • Fender
  • Roof
  • Uniside
  • Front Door
  • Rear Door
  • Quarter Panel
  • Trunk

With each of those major parts are the items you either need to R&I or in the case of the hoods “information labels” replace when refinishing a panel.

In the top right is a legend that explains what the symbols mean,

* = R&I If present (meaning not every vehicle has this part)

** = R&R if present

–> = Consider Blend

Let’s do an example. You are looking at damage on the front door of the vehicle. You know it needs repaired and then obviously refinished, but you don’t remember everything that needs to be R&I’ed. According this to this you should R&I the following items,

  • Mirror
  • Handle
  • Belt Molding
  • Trim Panel
  • * B/S (Body Side) Molding * = if present

Now you know what is typically removed and installed when a door is damaged.

Also, we can look at the consider blend arrows and see that it is telling us to consider blend on the rear door and fender. That brings us to the next part of this guide.

Blend Guidelines

Once you know you need to consider blending a panel, use the blend guidelines to determine if THIS car and THAT panel you are considering qualify for blend using the rules listed.

When considering if a panel needed “blended” you have to determine FIRST if the car qualifies for blend. What this means is that not all paint colors need blended and then the SECOND thing you need to determine is if the panel that you are considering a blend operation on qualifies for blend.

This may sound ambiguous, but I’ll give you 3 questions to ask yourself that will make it easy. The first two rules are to help you determine if the CAR qualifies as a vehicle that will possibly need blending and the last one is to help you determine if the PANEL you are considering does indeed need blending.

1. Does the vehicles paint have metallic in it? (car)

2. Is the vehicles paint light in color? (car)

3. Does the panel share a horizontal plane with a panel being refinished?(panel)

If you answer YES to the first question (metallic in paint) then you can skip the second question and assume the vehicle qualifies for blend.

Cars with metallic in the paint always qualify for blend


Metallic is the metal specks or flakes in the paint. I personally call them sparkles, but technically it is called metallic.

If there is NO metallic in the paint you ask the second question, “Is the vehicle light in color?”

Except for white, all vehicles that are light in color will qualify for blend. 


If the vehicle does not have metallic in the paint and is not light in color I do not recommend applying blend on the first inspection.

The horizontal plane rule is what this guide is for. If the panel shares “the same light” or horizontal plane and there is no major gap between the panels you should blend that panel (if it qualifies per the previous questions). As an example you WOULD blend a quarter panel if painting the rear door on a Toyota Camry.

You would NOT blend a truck bedside panel if painting the rear door on a Ford F150. The gap is TOO BIG.

Photos Guide

We’ve listed the standard required photos on this sheet to help make sure you NEVER miss a photo.

Use the photos guide in the lower left hand corner to make sure you get all the required photos.

  • Left Front Corner
  • Right Front Corner
  • Right Rear Corner
  • Left Rear Corner
  • License Plate
  • Vin
  • Odometer
  • Dash
  • Headliner
  • Drivers Seat & Door
  • Carpet
  • Engine
  • 4 Tread Depth Photos
  • Measurement Photo
  • Damage Photos (at least 3)

Repair Hours Guide

While there is no “right” repair hour number there is an industry standard and accepted “range.” This can feel overwhelming when you are just starting out. No one wants to be the new green appraiser that walks up and writes a two hours repair when it is a ten-hour dent.

To help you get a handle on the range of repair hours given damage should be in I created the IA Path “Repair Hours Guide.”

I initially used this with my students of our certification course, and they found it INVALUABLE! I decided to share it within this book so you can feel the confidence they felt from not having to guess.

I break damages into 4 different categories and all that you are left with deciding is which of these categories does the damage fall into. You then use that measurement to determine how many labor hours is needed.

  • Nick (less than 1 inch) – .5 hours
  • Scratch (more than 1 inch) – 1.0 hour
  • Dent – 2 hours
  • Impact – 1hr for how many “fists” you would need to cover the affected area of the dent

I expect that if you look at damages that you use your “adjuster” hat to make decisions. If a scratch is 1 hour, but you have twenty scratches on a door from an angry girlfriend keying a car… this doesn’t mean twenty hours!

Use common sense to adjust accordingly. This doesn’t excuse you from making a judgment call but is merely a starting point to making your decision.

Below are some examples of each type of damage. REMEMBER the software will automatically include the refinish/paint time on the damage panels. You are just writing repair hours for fixing the damage PRIOR to being painted.


This damage where the bumper and fender meet is a nick of damage on each panel. I would write .5 hours of repair time on BOTH the bumper and fender.


Below is an example of damage that would fall into the “scratch” category. I’d be writing 1 repair hour on the bumper.


This damage on the door I’d classify as a “dent” using the IA Path Repair Hours Guide and write 2 repair hours.


While much of the damage to this vehicle is obvious replacement, the damage to the left front door of this vehicle is NOT. I would be considering repair on this panel and I would need to use our “impact” measurement on the IA Path Repair Hours Guide.

I’d be using my first to measure how many it’d take to cover the damaged area. When using this measurement I’m left with roughly 5 fists while at the vehicle and 10 repair hours. (some may simply replace this door, and that is an OK decision, but this is to show how to use the repair hour guide on a large dent)

Creases Cause Increases

The last thing you’ll need to consider with the IA Path Repair Hours Guide is creases in the damage.

When a panel is creased it is MORE difficult to restore that back to pre-loss condition. Remember that paper airplane you made the crease wrong? Good luck getting it flat again… right? Metal that has been creased is VERY difficult to repair and we’ll need to think seriously about whether to replace a panel or not based on a crease.

If you decide to repair a panel that has a crease determine the number of repair hours needed based on the Repair Hours Guide and then DOUBLE it. That is how much harder it is to repair a crease.

Make sure you confirm it is cost effective to repair when compared to just replacing the panel.

Below are some examples of creases on a metal panel.

While this may only appear to be a 3-4 hours’ worth of damage on this panel by our repair hours guide I’d be doubling it due to the creases causing increases in repair time and writing 6-8 repair hours.

This yellow hood has a serious crease on the edge of the hood. It may only appear to be a 2-3-hour dent, but I’d be writing 6 hours to repair it. Due to the complexity of repair, it may need to be replaced, but if you’d write 6 hours repair based on the repair hour guide and remember that “creases cause increases” and double your number you’ll be in the industry acceptable repair hour range.


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