OEM repair information aids in communication between estimators and insurers

Golden, Colo.—Repair information is the key to limiting the inherent friction between insurance adjusters and collision repair shop personnel, said longtime industry trainer Toby Chess during the Automotive Service Association of Colorado (ASA-CO) Independent Automotive Professional Symposium, Jan. 26, at the Marriott Denver West, in Golden.


Chess’ four-hour course, which focused on Toyota’s Technical Information System (TIS), was one of four that were held during the daylong event, which drew more than 240 mechanical and collision repair shop personnel.


Attendees of the course received a free annual subscription to TIS that gives users access to Toyota’s Collision Repair Information Bulletins (CRIBs). The CRIBs provide illustrations and narrative for repair or replacement procedures for Toyota, Lexus, and Scion vehicles.


“If you understand the reasons why things should be done, you can better explain them to adjusters,” Chess said.


Repair procedures and methods that were once acceptable, he said, may no longer apply in vehicles equipped with high-strength steel (HSS) and ultra high-strength steel (UHSS).


Given the variance among types of steels, Toyota uses MPa (megapascals) to measure the strength of the steel, Chess said, adding that the automaker uses four types: 330, 440, 780, and 980 MPa. 


Honda uses a rocker panel on the 2014 Accord that is 1,500 MPa, he said.  “The only way you could put the rocker on is by MIG-weld braising,” he said. “That’s why you have to have the knowledge.”


The same is true for B pillars on Toyota vehicles, which use 590 Mpa steel and are non-repairable, he said. “Adjusters need to know why these need to be replaced, not repaired,” he said.


The first thing estimators should do is pull down the OEM repair data and have it ready for adjusters, Chess said.  “We have to take away all the friction at the beginning of the process. The CRIB will have all the information to hand over to the insurance company,” he said. 


In another section of his course, Chess noted that on all vehicles equipped with electronic stability control, it’s imperative that the steering angle sensor be recalibrated when wheels are aligned.  


This is increasingly important, since automakers must equip all their vehicles with stability control in 2013. 


An uncalibrated steering angle position sensor will not activate stability control in the event that it is needed, Chess warned.  If alignment and tire work is sublet, make sure it’s being done correctly, Chess said, adding that there is no malfunction indicator light on the dash for the sensor. 


Certain manufacturers also have specific ride height requirements for the stability to activate, he said.  A complete listing of vehicles equipped with stability control can be found at www.iihs.org

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