4 Keys to Efficient Modern Scanning

Feb. 28, 2020
Perfecting the pre- and post-repair diagnostic scanning process comes from an attention to detail and documenting all work performed.

On the outside, a vehicle might look unblemished, brand-new and not damaged in the slightest. The inside of the vehicle, however, can be telling quite a different story. 

It’s similar to how an X-ray can provide far more extensive information about a person’s brain than a simple facial expression can. And, it’s not unlike how computers often require updates to address internal issues. 

Vehicles are complex today and the only way to see all of the possible damage is through pre- and post-repair scans, says John Shoemaker, business development manager for BASF.

And, just like going to the doctor to receive an update on your health, various circumstances can impact that diagnosis. A person who is confirmed to be better after heart surgery, for instance, might want to avoid fatty foods moving forward. 

Same goes with a car, says Mike Schoonover, owner of Schoonover’s Bodyworks in Shoreview, Minn. A car can be repaired, declared ready to return to the road, yet soon experience a reset in ADAS systems automatically—ultimately leading to a car that’s unfit to be on the road. 

According to the 2019 FenderBender Industry Survey, approximately 67 percent of body shop respondents are performing pre- and post-repair scans on every repair, and 23 percent are performing them when required by the OEM.

Shops are performing scans, as research shows. But, shops may not be performing every scan correctly.

In light of pre- and post-repair scans becoming more prevalent in body shops, Shoemaker and Schoonover dive into how a body shop can perfect its process, from the first scan in the repair all the way to effectively charging for your staff’s time in performing scans.

Step One: Choose the Right Scan Tool for the Job.

“One of the common challenges to this process is that people are buying an inadequate scan tool but believe they’re getting all the correct information, “ Shoemaker says.

In his experience, aftermarket scanners might find a fault code but don’t have the correct calibration capabilities.

Shoemaker recommends a body shop owner go to the Collision Industry Conference’s link under work products and read the “Quick Start Guide Pre- and Post-Repair Scanning” to determine which scan tool is right for them (See Sidebar: Tips to Jumpstarting Scanning).

Schoonover says he has invested anywhere from $20,000–$30,000 in scan tool equipment for his staff. While he’s invested in OEM scan tools, he recommends researching options. His staff has found positive results from its purchase of the Autel scan tool.

The Minnesota shop owner recommends looking at what job the tool was designed to address. Does it capture data easily and transfer into your management system easily? Data transfer was an important requirement for Schoonover. His shop is virtually all paperless, with every document stored in an electronic file, so he wanted a tool that could transfer data into his electronic system.

Tips to Jumpstarting Scanning

Before starting scanning, Randy Sattler, body shop director for Rydell Collision & Detail Centers, shares his tips to make sure you have a plan in place.

1) Do research.

Operators need to research their market area and determine which types of vehicles they work on the most. Sattler also recommends body shop owners ask other operators to share their experience with scan tools. 

2) Ask yourself a question.

Before starting the process of becoming an all in-house scanning repair facility, Sattler says to ask yourself, “What is our ultimate goal of this process?” Sattler says his facility wanted to be committed to repairing a vehicle 100 percent through the repair process.

3) Set attainable goals.

Make goals and set a date to achieve them. For example, make a goal to accomplish after 30 days, after 60 days and after 90 days. .

Step Two: Nail Down the Time to Complete Each Job.

Schoonover says his staff completes scans on 8-10 vehicles per morning. 

Shoemaker estimates the repair scan process takes about 45 minutes or slightly more. It might take about 10-15 minutes to hook up the scan tool and perform the tests, another 10 minutes to cycle through the tests, and then another 20-45 minutes for the tool to find the codes and start diagnosing trouble codes. 

Once a vehicle is scanned at his shop, Schoonover’s team marks the car’s window to let everyone know it was scanned. He designates one apprentice technician to the job.

Step Three: Perfect Scanning Steps.

Before beginning a scan, Shoemaker recommends a shop operator ask every customer coming into the shop if they’d like a repair scan. He says the body shop staff should recommend it to the customer because the shop performing the scan could be found liable if there are issues with the scan and not fixing the codes.

To perform the scan, the car has to be at the correct operating temperature, a battery pack or jump box has to be attached to the vehicle to make sure there is the correct voltage to all sensors, the scanner has to be connected to the vehicle to ensure it is the correct make model and trim model, and the repairer should document what the scan tool finds. Additionally, a scan and a calibration must be done on a level floor, Shoemaker says.

Often, of course, a scan leads to calibrating a vehicle.

“A pre-scan is only the beginning,” Shoemaker says. “As you work through the car, it’s probably going to create some system faults that will lead to a calibration scan.”

The Schoonover Bodyworks team is looking to dedicate one stall to perform such calibrations. The stall will be about 20 feet wide and 30 to 40 feet long. It will be placed away from natural sunlight because lighting can affect readings.

At the end of the process, Shoemaker says the final scan should be performed by the person doing quality control or the production manager. 

Step Four: Get Paid for All Scan Work.

Shoemaker often observes that shops record that they performed scans, but their staff lump the total amount of time spent on scanning work into one recorded number. Additionally, shop staff often neglect to specify all that happened during a scan. 

Schoonover says he has experienced multiple instances in which an insurance company short-paid him, claiming the dealership could perform the same scan for cheaper. In order to combat some of the pushback, Schoonover informs the parties of the risk involved in a body shop employee driving an uncalibrated vehicle back and forth between the dealership and the collision repair facility. 

While it is a newer form of the repair, Schoonover says scanning work is becoming a new stream of revenue for body shops. He says his shop charges around $100 per scan per vehicle.

SHOP STATS: Schoonover Bodyworks  Location: Shoreview, Minn.  Operator: Mike Schoonover  Average Monthly Car Count: 100  Staff Size: 16 (7 front office/ 9 back end)  Shop Size: 14,000 square feet Annual Revenue: $3.5 million  

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