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Auto Body: Background and Overview

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) describes this industry under NAICS 81112 - Automotive Body, Paint, Interior and Glass Repair.

Auto body establishments are primarily engaged in providing one or more of these services:

  • Repairing and customizing passenger cars, trucks, vans, trailer bodies and interiors
  • Painting auto and trailer bodies
  • Replacing, repairing, and/or tinting glass
  • Customizing vehicles for the physically disabled or other customers with special requirements.

Auto Body Industry Profile

Auto body repair shops employ about 18% of the workers in the total automobile service industry. In 2001, there were more than 75,000 body, paint, and interior repair and maintenance shops in the U.S. Ninety-five percent of these were small shops employing less than twenty people. According to the 2001 County Business Patterns Economic Profile, these shops employed almost 475,000 people and had an annual payroll of over $14,471,000,000. Source: 2001 County Business Patterns for the United States, U.S. Census Bureau - www.census.gov/epcd/cbp/view/us01.txt.

The following overview of the auto body industry is courtesy of Babcox Research, www.babcox.com, a leading automotive aftermarket business-to-business magazine publisher. Data is taken from their 2000-2001 industry report.


Body shop owners are generally 35-49 years of age and most (68%) have some education beyond a high school diploma. The average body shop owner has been in the industry 23.9 years and most body shops (77%) are family owned.


The average shop has been in business 19.1 years. Word of mouth/car dealer referral is the most popular source of business for these shops. The average shop employs 6.9 employees. Nearly 30% of shops have sales volumes of more than $750,000. The average for all shops is $543,424 (56% is attributed to labor and 44% is attributed to parts).

Material Use:

According to one study, approximately 60% of shops surveyed used just one brand of paint, and median monthly paint purchases exceeded $1,000. Trade magazines and jobbers are the most common sources of information on new products and quality is the most important factor influencing overall buying decisions (affecting decisions much more than price). On average, 35% of shops buying dollars are spent on crash parts, with paint (18%) second.


Nearly 70% of shops have at least one employee who attended a training session in 1999. Almost 60% of the shops have at least one ASE-certified technician. A typical shop spends most of its time, about 42%, on body work. It spends about 34% of its labor hours on painting; 11% on mechanical repairs; and 13% on pulling, straightening, and measuring (bench time).

Environmental and Health Issues

Paints, solvents and cleaners used in the industry emit pollutants that contribute to the localized formation of ground level smog and air pollution. The production and use of low volatile organic compound (VOC) content paint is on the rise due to EPA mandates and manufacturers' response to the needs of auto refinishers.

Common operation wastes including paint booth filters, paint dust, and floor sweepings may be hazardous depending on the type of paint used. Waste paint is toxic and ignitable (may also contain heavy metals, petroleum compounds and organic acids). Most thinners and solvents are toxic and some (like naphtha and kerosene) are flammable. Worker health issues in auto body operations include exposure to these products, particulates, noise, and physical safety hazards.

Topic Hub™ Last Updated: 08/30/2006
This Topic Hub is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2RX)™
The Auto Body Topic Hub was developed by:
Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Center
Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Center
Contact (Peaks)
406-994-3451 or information@peakstoprairies.org
Peaks to Prairies is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange™, a national network of regional information centers: NEWMOA (Northeast), WRRC (Southeast), GLRPPR (Great Lakes), ZeroWasteNet (Southwest), P2RIC (Plains), Peaks to Prairies (Mountain), WRPPN (Pacific Southwest), PPRC (Northwest).