In the past two decades, the automotive collision repair industry has seen many innovative changes in technology, education, communication, and the environment.
However, three important issues are at play, which could affect the quality of collision repairs and, worse, lead to compromised safety for vehicle owners.
The first is the need for collision repair facilities to research and follow Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) processes after a collision, regardless if the damage appears minor. A survey from Collision Repair Magazine shows that only 25 per cent of respondents (repair shops) in Canada research OEM literature before they have collision repairs performed.
Some shops mistakenly believe that if they repair the same model frequently, they do not need to check required repair procedures every single time. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that repair shops need to research repair information every time to ensure that repairs are performed according to OEM standards.
For example, some cars have sensors in the seat that weigh the driver and adjust how hard or fast the airbag comes out after an accident. These sensors need to be reset, and you should always obtain a pre- and post-scan and keep a copy of this in your file.
If you drive a leased vehicle and it is not repaired to an acceptable standard after a collision, you may be required to pay a financial penalty equal to the cost of bringing the vehicle back to factory specifications.
The second issue is that many collision repair facilities do not have the minimum required equipment to repair today’s high-strength steel (HSS) vehicles. Advancements in multi-phase steel construction on some vehicles require that they be repaired on a factory-approved frame machine and the use of specific welding technology during the repair process.
If the welding process does not follow the OEM procedure, the crashworthiness of the vehicle will be compromised and it could lead to catastrophic results for the occupants.
The third issue is impact of aftermarket parts in crash energy distribution and crash severity. In some cases, the use of aftermarket parts in collision repair can negatively affect the crash load distribution and airbag deployment and can compromise occupant safety.
Aftermarket parts do not have to follow the strict development that the OEM has utilized. In fact, many aftermarket body parts are inferior to OEM parts and demonstrate decreased tolerances for corrosion resistance and lower crash resistance than factory-approved parts.
So, why are the OEMs required to meet crash-test safety regulations to try and achieve a 5-star safety rating; and yet with collision repairs, the same standards are not upheld, and vehicles could drop to a 3- or 4-star rating and possibly compromise occupant safety?
This has to change, and it requires better regulation of the collision repair industry, to provide greater safety for drivers and passengers. Many OEMs have created certified collision networks so that they can have a greater influence on ensuring the cars are repaired to OEM standards utilizing the proper specifications and following OEM procedures and processes.
Some insurance companies have policies that stipulate non-OEM parts
must be used after a vehicle has reached a certain age or mileage. If vehicle owners want to use OEM replacement parts, they may be required to pay the difference in price.
Vehicle owners should read the fine print on their insurance policy to know what type of replacement parts are covered under their policy.
When choosing a collision-repair facility, make sure to ask if the facility is prepared to check repair procedures on your specific make, model, and year of vehicle, and whether it has the correct equipment and specifications to perform the proper repairs on your vehicle.
How do you determine fair market value for a vehicle after a collision?
This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to tada.ca. Larry Lantz is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is a new-car dealer in Hanover, Ont.