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GM Touts Revisions to Post-Crash Inspection Policies

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Aug. 5, 2021—Last month, General Motors updated its post crash inspection guidance documents for repairers. Instead of rigorous inspections after any accidents, the company now says checks are only required after “any collision that exceeds minor outer body panel cosmetic distortion.” 

The move has been a long time coming according to GM Collision Manager John Eck, who says the company has been in talks with the repair community for quite some time now about the state of their protocols. Eck says GM started the revision process in the first quarter of 2020.

“We took that as direct feedback from the collision industry as to what they’re looking for in terms of additional help and support, and so we took advantage of that opportunity knowing it was going to be a big hurdle to overcome. We had a great team of people and a project leader who really carried the ball for us and helped us navigate those waters.”

Some have called the revisions a “scaling back” of the inspection procedures, but Mike Anderson of Collision Advice says that really doesn’t describe the changes well.

“Some people have said ‘hey, maybe we went backward on this,’ but I don’t think we did. Before, the statement was all-encompassing. Now it has parameters around it. So they didn’t change the inspection process, they just changed the circumstances around when the inspections need to be done,” Anderson says. “I don’t think they’ve sacrificed safety at all. If anything, because it’s less invasive, you don’t have to worry about whether you reinstall things properly or retorque things to the proper specs, all things that could be the result of human error. They haven’t compromised safety, they just put some common-sense logic around it.” 

Eck says the updates will help keep GM near the front of the pack in terms of having comprehensive and easy-to-use inspection guidelines following a collision. As the technology inside vehicles becomes more complex, so too do the necessary procedures that are in place to fix those vehicles. Not only has GM updated the content and guidelines for repairs but also the way in which that information is presented. 

The old GM procedures were, essentially, long bullet-pointed checklists. The revised document now includes shaded 3D graphics, video elements and an overall more user-friendly workflow that Eck says “takes a look inside the engineers’ heads” to really get a good idea for the best repair practices for any specific incident.

That, Eck says, isn’t just a “win-win,” but rather a “win-win-win-win” for the customer who gets repairs done more efficiently, the repairers who don’t have to wade through countless protocols for what could be minor damage, the insurers that don’t have to pay for the disassembly of a car that isn’t necessary, and for the OEM itself.

“We’ve updated it to ensure that we’re giving the technician the appropriate measures they need to take to ensure a safe inspection. It’s a refinement of what do you need to do and when do you need to do it. It’s not a scaling back,” Eck says. “We’re not telling you that you can do a less-safe inspection, we’re just telling you, based upon the type of deployment, these are the minimum things that need to be inspected and replaced relative to the technology. We updated it based on the technology of the vehicle.”

Anderson adds that the revisions GM made aren’t an isolated instance but will soon be an industry-wide trend.

“There are two or three OEMs I’m talking to that I know are looking at their statements. They’re not saying they don’t need to be done, they’re just providing clarity as to when they need to be done. There still are some OEMs that have come back and said ‘we still want it done, no matter how minor.’ And until somebody says something different, a shop still has the obligation to do that,” Anderson says. “I think it’s important to understand why (an inspection) needs to be done. Sometimes it’s just knowing why the engineer wants it done so we can be more educated about it.”

That education, Eck says, is a two-way street; while it’s important for repairers to know how an OEM has designed a vehicle and what it says are the proper steps for inspecting and repairing following a collision, it’s also important for that same OEM to listen to the repair community and make sure its protocols and guidelines are as effective and efficient as possible.

“We as an OEM design, build and manufacture those vehicles, but we work very closely with the industry to make sure there’s repairability, that there’s a cost of ownership component and to make sure that our vehicles can be repaired,” Eck says. “It’s critical that we stay close to the industry, we get their feedback and we deliver to them the content, the information, the technical support that they need to repair our vehicles properly and safely, and that the customer and the vehicle are getting back on the road as they were designed to.

Image: General Motors

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