Automakers address position statements on need for scanning of damaged vehicles
Las Vegas—Get collision repairers in a room with representatives of the automakers these days and one topic is likely to dominate the conversation: pre- and post-repair scanning of collision damaged vehicles.
That certainly held true at the “OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit,” hosted in Las Vegas in November by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS).
Chris Tobie, of American Honda, said each of the automakers has taken their own approach to position statements on scanning.
“What Honda did in its position statement is define a collision as any damage exceeding minor outer cosmetic panel distortion,” Tobie said. “Then you must do a pre-scan on that car because there’s a whole lot of parts that have wires going to them that didn’t five years ago. So a pre-scan is mandatory.”
Justin Miller, who coordinates the certified collision center program for Nissan and Infiniti, said his company’s position statements on vehicle scanning differ from some of the other automakers.
“We highly recommend pre-scanning the vehicle, but we do not make it mandatory,” Miller said. “I think there are some instances in collision repair where it wouldn’t be justified. I will tell you in conversations with engineering, they said it needs to be done. But if you apply that to the way the collision industry is right now on the ground, it might be pushy to ask a shop to do it every single time. So Nissan and Infiniti both take a position that pre-scanning is very important and highly recommended. We leave it at that.”
Miller said he wanted collision repairers to have “the autonomy to make a decision, a judgment call, on whether they think pre-scanning is appropriate.”
“Post-repair scanning, however, is 100-percent mandatory,” Miller said. “We say [that] on every vehicle.”
Miller said the more recently released Infiniti position statement indicates post-repair scanning is needed on all Infinitis built since the mid-1990s. He said the Nissan statement from this past summer doesn’t reference any particular age of vehicle, but the mid-1990s onward applies for Nissan vehicles as well.
“Since NACE, some of the insurance partners mentioned that by saying ‘all vehicles’ we weren’t being clear enough,” Miller said. “I thought it was pretty clear.”
Another panelist at the summit, Eric Mendoza, assistant manager of collision repair and refinish training for Toyota Motor Sales USA, also weighed in on the long-standing debate as to whether OEM repair procedures are “recommended” or “required.”
“We’ve done everything to tell you what it takes to complete a proper repair,” Mendoza said. “If I tell you that our vehicles are manufactured in this way and I’m recommending that you perform this repair, how can you say that you’re going to refuse and go against the recommendation of the manufacturer or the printed document in the repair manual? I would like to hear the people who are saying that sit up here on a panel and explain why, because I don’t understand the justification. That’s the panel that I’d like to watch, so I can better understand what I [as an automaker] am not doing or that I need to do differently.”
The automakers also discussed that just ensuring there no are warning lights lit on the dashboard is not enough of a diagnosis to eliminate the need for scanning. Tobie said even without “a sensing suite of driver safety systems,” Honda’s entry-level 2017 Honda Fit can have as many as 510 diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). Only a small fraction of those codes, he said, actually turn on a malfunction indicator light (MIL) on the dashboard.
“I don’t think most of the industry understands the magnitude of the number of DTCs in a car today,” Tobie said. “If you get to a fully loaded Pilot or Odyssey, you are probably approaching 1,000 DTCs in that car. You can’t turn a light on for all of those codes. It’s simply not possible. We have to make this very clear: Indicators are for driver notification. They are not diagnostic tools. They never were intended for that.”
John Hughes, of Fiat Chrysler, concurred, saying one of his company’s vehicles that he reviewed had nearly 1,000 potential DTCs — yet only 13 MILs.
“The other interesting thing is you can end up with DTCs at very, very low speeds,” Hughes said. “We found in one instance it was just 2.5 MPH. There were no visible issues on the outside of the vehicle. It just happened that someone had checked it, and there were codes set.”
The automakers also were asked why the need for a post-repair test-drive of a vehicle is not noted as necessary in their position statements regarding pre- and post-repair scanning of vehicles.
“I think because it’s been policy for so long for car manufacturers that we tend to take it for granted [as a necessary step],” Honda’s Tobie said. “It is never a good idea to give a car back to a customer in any repair situation without a test drive, without verifying that car is one you want to put back on the road.”
Tobie said the test drive requirements are spelled out in Honda’s repair procedures, but can’t be generalized because different diagnostic trouble codes have different test-drive requirements.
“There’s not necessarily one drive cycle that will solve every problem,” he said.
Another panelist, Jason Bartanen, director of industry technical relations for I-CAR, agreed.
“Those calibration procedures will have that drive requirement in there,” Bartanen said. He concurred with Tobie that the necessary parameters for test drives vary.
“Some of them are 10 minutes at a minimum of 40 MPH, [or may specify] no rain or clouds so the cameras can see the lines on road,” Bartanen said. “So while it may not be in the position statement, you will find it when you’re going through the calibration procedures.”
The automaker representatives acknowledged that the scanning issue is generating some friction in the industry between shops and insurers, but said they see the industry moving toward consensus on the importance of scanning in returning a vehicle to road-worthiness.
“It seems like we’re always years behind the service end of the business,” Hughes said. “This is a new idea for this industry versus service technicians who have been doing this for years. The bottom line is we’re going to catch up. We’ll get there. It’s just a matter of working through the little bumps we have now.”