Get Close to the Problem with the Right Tools and Data
Picture this: You’ve just picked up your car from the shop. The dent in the door is gone, the hinge has been replaced, the B-pillar cleaned up and painted. “Thank you,” you say. You grab your keys, hop in the car, drive off the lot. It’s a beautiful day.
Six weeks later, you’re back. Something is...wrong. Your dashboard blares neon and the open-door alert tells you to CLOSE DOOR. But the door is closed.
What is happening?
”Not good,” you mutter, pulling into the parking lot of the collision center before work.
Not good at all. In a day or two, you’ll learn that the shop failed to accurately measure the damaged side of the vehicle, which would have revealed the entire door was out of alignment. Body shops can’t afford to guess when it comes to repair measurements, and today’s vehicles offer more hidden components and technical difficulties than ever before.
Get a system that works. Car-O-Liner is here to help.
Measure Twice, Repair Once
“You can’t just fix it the way you’ve always done before,” says Kelly Logan, Director of Technical Services at Car-O-Liner.
He’s referring to typical cosmetic and structural repairs from a torn bumper cover to near totaled vehicle. But vehicles—and the industry they represent—are changing faster than most people care to admit.
“Shops need to develop a culture of researching and following OEM repair procedures. The scariest thing out there now for vehicle owners and shop managers is the technician who looks at a seemingly simple fix and says, ‘Well, that’s how I would do it.’ They need to research and utilize the OEM repair procedures while using the proper equipment and materials. They need to go to the source.”
He cites an exterior quarter panel replacement as an example. The OEM’s repair procedure states, you need a multi-step process including MIG Brazing, rivet bonding, and resistance spot welding for the proper repair. If the technician or collision center manager makes the decision to shortcut the repair by ONLY bonding and riveting the quarter panel—is that what’s best for the vehicle? Or is that what’s best for the technician or collision center cycle time? Sure, you can make the repair look great by only using adhesive and rivets, but what happened to the vehicle after the fact? Will the body structure react differently now if it’s involved in another accident?
“The automotive engineer may not have designed the car to be repaired that way after an accident,” Logan says.
“Every joint in that car has a certain strength it’s been designed to withhold—every bonded, riveted and welded area has to meet certain requirements. When you start changing that—adding rivets, removing rivets, spot welding, plug welding, etc.—you’re changing the strength of every joint in that vehicle. You have to follow the OEM repair procedures that are out there to do this right.”
You wouldn’t cook a gourmet meal using peanut oil when the recipe calls for vegetable oil. Are you sure your shop and technicians aren’t doing the same?
The right tools can you help you achieve the best repair. The best repair is the one that sticks. Good repairs make for happy customers, and happy customers make for more revenue by referrals and returning for future repair needs.
“It starts with the tools,” Logan says.
Tools, and data.
Modern Measuring Tools and OEM Data Drive Revenue
“When a customer buys one of our measuring systems, they get access to a vehicle database that is continually growing every week,” Logan says.
“It’s remarkable. Car-O-Liner has the most OEM approvals for vehicle repairs out there using an electronic measuring system named Car-O-Tronic.” When used in conjunction with Car-O-Liner’s Vision2 software, shops have access to thousands of vehicles’ specifications and measurements—down to the millimeter.
Think about it. For a proper insurance claim, everything needs to be needlepoint accurate. Accurate measurements protect both the shop and—helping to prevent future injuries with proper repairs—the driver. “Every point you measure must meet the tolerance set by the OEM established spec,” Logan notes. Some European marques require repairs within 2 millimeters of the OEM specifications. Some vehicles go as high as 5 millimeters.
“The tolerances vary by OEM, so it’s important to understand what is required,” Logan says.
He describes how the amount of changes that have occurred over the past 10 years in manufacturing and repair dwarf the previous 15 before that. The way cars are being made is changing. The OEM has to be more involved than ever been before due to the way vehicles are designed. You can’t apply the same repair method to every car anymore because the level of sophistication of materials used in the body structure has risen dramatically.
“Cars today are essentially moving computers,” Logan notes.
And they’re being built more accurately to reflect the technology within. Cars are becoming more autonomous, “with radar, sensors and cameras, the cars need to be the same, always, for those devices to operate accurately,” Logan says, “and this has required OEMs to construct vehicles with very tight tolerances.”
Logan describes the old ways cars were measured for repairs; it was floor pots in the cement floor. “Tape measures!” he laughs. “Can you imagine trying to get away with that now?” Now, using Car-O-Liner’s frame bench equipment and precision electronic measuring tools, shops can depend on OEM-accurate measurements and data.
“Nobody plans on getting into an accident,” he says, “and the first thing they ask is, ‘When can I get my car back?’”
When you look at cycle time and all the other factors that go into a repair (parts delays; touch time; insurance supplements), having the most accurate equipment will help the shop be more efficient.
Efficient shops yield happy customers. And happy customers yield revenue.
Do you have the right data and equipment? Maybe it’s time to take the measure of your shop.