Late last year, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) wrote to seven major paint manufacturers and asked for each company’s recommended procedure for applying clearcoat to qualify for a lifetime refinish warranty. Specifically, SCRS wanted to know if there is an acceptable procedure to tape, melt or blend clearcoat mid-panel rather than extending it to the natural breaking point.
All of the paint companies responded in writing that you must extend clear to the natural breaking point in order to qualify for the lifetime refinish warranty. You can read all of their responses on the SCRS website by visiting ABRN.com/SCRSpaint. Then look for the link to “2014 Clearcoat Response” for each paint manufacturer).
“Applying clearcoat to the entire panel is a requirement for coverage under the Axalta Coating Systems warranty for collision repair finishes,” that company’s response to SCRS states. “This approach helps produce a durable repair that will not weather prematurely.”
“(F)or PPG Lifetime Limited Paint Performance Guarantee purposes, the clearcoat application must extend to the nearest panel edge or break point,” that company stated.
That means if you put a quarter panel on and there’s a roof molding along the roof rail, you have to extend clear all the way to the natural breaking point, all the way down to the A-pillar. Or if you put a quarter panel in, you may have to clear the rocker panel all the way forward if there’s not another natural breaking point. And if there’s not a roof molding, for example, you have to do an “up and over,” clearcoating the roof and the other quarter panel.
The paint manufacturers are not alone on this. Some auto manufacturers have issued position statements that concur.
“Ford Motor Company does not condone or recommend the procedure of clearcoat blending,” the company’s document states in part. “The preferred process – and the one Ford approves – is to blend the basecoat color as necessary and then clearcoat the entire panel.”
Toyota and Volvo have similar published statements; other automakers do not address the issue directly but do state that the paint manufacturer procedures – which include the statements saying that not extending the clear to natural breaking point is not a warranted repairer – should always be followed when repairing their vehicles.
Yet I still hear from shops, “Mike, the insurance companies won’t pay me for it.” Insurers, are you trying to tell me you know something the paint companies don’t? Are you saying you know something the automakers don’t?
It’s time to stop this nonsense.
As with other topics like this, three questions will help you demonstrate to an insurer that the process needs to be done and is therefore something for which shops should be compensated.
Question 1: Is it required to fully and properly repair the vehicle? Go to the website above and get copies of your paint company’s statement showing what is required if the insurer and customer expect a lifetime refinish warranty.
Question 2: Is it included in any other labor operation? A quick review of your estimating system guide will tell you that it is not. The Mitchell International procedure pages, for example, state that, “It may be required to extend the application of clear to the nearest panel edge or breakpoint. The performance of this operation is NOT INCLUDED in the Mitchell refinish labor time.”
Question 3: Do the estimating system providers provide a pre-determined time or calculation method for this procedure? Here the answer varies. If a time or formula isn’t provided, I suggest you submit an inquiry at the Database Enhancement Gateway website (DEGweb.org).
And remember when you do clear the aperture all the way forward, are you charging to remove and reinstall the door weather strips at the top of the roof rail so you don’t get a hardline? Are you charging to remove and reinstall the windshield molding or to precision mask the front windshield to prevent overspray?
Shops, insurers and customers all want lifetime refinish warranties, and the paint companies have been very specific about the need to extend clearcoat to the natural breakline in order to achieve a warrantable paint job. It’s time for insurers to stop asking shops to do anything less.