Techs can’t assume that a procedure is the same as the last repair, because repair techniques are evolving with new materials and technology, NASTF’s Tim Morgan says.

Hi-tech vehicles demand vigilance in following repair procedures

The re-inspection process is becoming increasingly important to ensure a properly repaired vehicle

New Orleans—Vehicles with advanced technology and structural components are on today’s roadways and highways, but the methodologies and procedures to repair them are not in the majority of today’s collision shops.

“Many technicians don’t know how repair them in a manner that that returns them to their owners in pre-accident condition, said Tim Morgan, of Spanesi, who serves as Independent co-chair of the NASTF Collision Repair Committee (CRC), during NASTF’s Spring 2017 General Meeting.

“The collision industry, as a whole, needs to educate its technicians better on how to repair vehicles using proper repair procedures. It’s amazing how many repairs are done that aren’t even close to following proper procedure.”

The industry, including the NASTF CRC, wants to change that.

The “CRC Projects & Responsibilities” news that Morgan presented included the NASTF cross-industry collaboration with I-CAR, which has “stepped up with vehicle manufacturers to be the key holder” of OEM procedures and offers a gateway for access to those procedures via I-CAR’s RTS website page.

“It’s working well with more than 70,000 repair procedures now on the site,” he said. “It’s a huge undertaking that couldn’t have been done without I-CAR. Ask a consumer about their vehicle that doesn’t have its paint match, or ask a consumer who opens the hood and sees a rivet on one side and none on the other — and both are because a repair procedure wasn’t performed correctly.”

If a vehicle is not repaired properly by not using manufacturer procedures and OEM parts, then the repair could cause a “catastrophic event” during a subsequent collision, Morgan said. “We don’t want a vehicle repaired too strong or too weak now that carbon fiber, aluminum and high-strength steels are used with new joining processes such as bonding and riveting.”

The re-inspection process is becoming more of a factor in the industry to ensure a vehicle has been repaired correctly and that the consumer is receiving a safe vehicle, Morgan said. “Consider an hospital operating room — how many lives are at stake, aside from the patient’s? If a shop puts an improperly repaired car back on the road, everyone’s lives, from those in the vehicle to everyone around it, are at risk.”

In February, GM stated that technicians are not checking for proper repair procedure 80 percent of the time they perform an identical specific repair, he said. “Repair techniques change. Techs can’t assume that the procedure is the same as the last repair, because repair techniques could have been added and changed and repair materials could have changed, especially as steel content in vehicles is constantly changing.”

Not only do proper procedures need to be adhered, but a shop also needs to be equipped with OEM-approved equipment. More and more, OEMs are stating that specific equipment is required, from spot welders and inverter MIG welders to rivet tools and dedicated fixture systems — and scan tools.

“Today, scan tools in collision repair are needed for pre- and post-scans, and they serve several purposes,” Morgan said.

Pre-scans determine exactly what happened to a vehicle during a collision or what might have been pre-existing prior to an accident. “It’s important to pre-scan to make sure all of the electrical components are correct or what needs to be reset,” he said. “When a vehicle is taken apart in a shop, I often see ‘key starts’ to vehicles with many electrical components disconnected that will cause a code needing to be reset, from windshields that now require a reset function to window regulators.”

More and more, OEMs are releasing position statements that encourage or necessitate the use of scan tools for pre-scans and post-scans, but Morgan said in many cases the statements are redundant.

“Just open up and look at an OEM’s vehicle repair manual — it will tell you there that a collision vehicle needs a pre-scan.”

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.