Recent research shows a failure to provide support for OEM repair methods as part of the damage quantification estimate review and this amends authorised allowance on the process where it is deemed required.
The only protection we as an industry have in this type of predicament is to do the repair correctly and validate that we did so. It is also the responsibility we have to the consumer, who has entrusted us as an industry with the safety of their family. It seems simple, but there is resistance by some assessors and/or Insurer protocol in our industry to agree to all the procedures recommended or required to be done to repair a vehicle correctly and accept validation that it was done correctly.
Once again, through lack of qualified approach, the evaluated repair value falls short of the required rate needed to do the job properly and creates an unnecessary administrative burden and delay in repair time in having to apply for additional requirement. Unfortunately, the acumen in some motor body repair (MBR) facilities allow for these items to remain unrecovered. This may in fact have a negative outcome to well-run shops when the principal Insurer analyses cost per claim and the partial base of redirection of future repair procurement direction.
Damage to the body’s inner construction or to the frame of a vehicle can be severe but not be apparent. Failure to check for and correct such damage can result in poor fitting doors, bonnets, or fenders; faulty steering control; and many other problems. The possibility of these faults makes a number of measurements necessary throughout the correction of collision damage. This may not be true for every repair to be undertaken but requires qualified understanding from the accident or incident description which must be the base for pre-estimation.
Understanding of the direction and speed of impact plays a vital role in determining whether outer and/or internal panels may have been subject to damage. Visual inspection may not always make this condition readily known and you need to mount the vehicle on a car bench to determine the severity more accurately. Results are achieved by either electronic measurement or placement of jig clamps at agreed intervals for smooth movement along the entire frame/chassis dependent on the make of the car bench installed at your facility. This would apply to both panels identified for repair or cut and weld replacement. Straightening would in most instances require pulling in differing directions to achieve expected true outcomes and if further steps for cut and weld anchorage will be necessary to achieve proper alignment of the new panel to be welded or bonded in place.
There currently is no tool that does it all. Most shops are using multiple systems to service the majority of brands they work on. Dealerships and on-site technicians may be available to help with what you do not have coverage for but always from the OEM repair method library. In this regard, you have to pay for access via subscriptions or fees needed for programming or access to certain manufacturers’ tools you may not have. They may also have more advanced software or experience transferring data and even on-line diagnostic troubleshooting. At the end of the day this is outlay and should be rewarded both for time and return on investment of technical aids.
As ADAS installed devices with items such as lane change sensors, enhanced braking and even cameras for reverse parking are now installed in todays’ market and no longer just fitted to luxury brands, it is imperative that the alignment is 100% correct or the owner could be subject, as per example to having to continually adjust the steering due to the alignment of the sensor attempting to rectify lane drift. The continued correction may also trigger other sensors to ensure the electronics assuming the driver is tired and may need to pull over, frustrating and certainly not in terms of driver expectation or satisfaction. Recall in these circumstances will involve stripping, additional car hire and other costs which may have been avoided if the qualification of understanding with regard to repair methods were better applied at the time of the incident loss rectification.
One of the major benefits to the introduction of the Vehicle Damage Quantifier (VDQ) qualification is that it is created by people of the industry for the benefit of all, and collaborated by representation of all pillars of industry from MBR estimators to assessors and Insurers. This is to ensure that we have an equitable understanding of these protocols and to define process for recovery of the skilled technician time in performance and safety through standards post-restoration. There is an absolute immediate need to ensure collaboration for this as a required procurement standard.
The above synopsis covers only one important aspect which is found in a large proportion of accident damaged quantification scenarios. I am of the opinion that we need to be unified as the MBR fraternity to not accept partial repair scope which may have consequences on your conscience or extend to liability for poor workmanship.
The right to repair guideline has opened provision for a greater number of MBR facilities available to provide repair service. There is a fall-back plan through having defective workmanship insurance cover in place which, with respect, ridicules the professionalism we portray in the execution of our passion for anything motor related. Let us keep standards and satisfaction with sustainable earnings at the forefront of our daily routine and enjoy the benefit of excellence and provide job security to our employees.
By Steve Kessel