Understanding Collision Repair For Steel Components on Repair University

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While the industry seems to be focusing on Aluminum, still a majority of collision repair involves steel. And to tell the truth, we’re not doing it well.
On this episode of Repair University we discuss the types of steel involved in vehicle construction, it’s purposes, joining methods and repair replace reasoning.

Repair University: Tips For Becoming A Better Estimator

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Estimating damage in a collision repair facility is a critical step in not only customer satisfaction, but shop profitability.

It’s important that the appraiser of the damage understand all the needed operations to completely repair the vehicle in an economical and efficient manner. When it comes down to it, the estimate will set the tone and the pace of the repair while also serving as the single source for shop compensation.
In this episode of Repair University, Jason Bartanen from I-CAR joins us to discuss the best tips for becoming a better estimator.
From insurance adjuster to Independent appraiser to shop estimator identifying damage and the needed steps to repair can be the most valuable asset to a customer.

Offer a lifetime paint warranty and get paid for it.

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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 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 (

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.



Top 10 Ways Auto Body Shops Can Ensure a Positive Customer Experience

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Top 10 Ways Auto Body Shops Can Ensure a Positive Customer Experience

A successful auto body shop ensures that their customers have a quality experience. The moment customers walk into your shop, you’ll want to make a positive first impression to start building a relationship and hopefully encourage repeat and referral business.

Here are some ways that auto body shops can impress customers and boost the image of their shop, the quality of the repair process, and the overall customer experience:

1. Provide unique and personalized service. Give the customer a personable and welcoming greeting when they enter an auto body shop. Be enthusiastic, stand up, and shake the customer’s hand. Give a positive greeting like “Hi! How are you? How can we help you today?” and remember to smile.

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Replacement car bumpers weaker than originals

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Today’s cars and car parts are made not just in one place, but many. Toyotas hail from Mississippi, Volkswagens are assembled in America, and Chryslers aren’t just made in Detroit any more. But replacement parts for all these car types and makes come mainly from China. (FAQ: What kind of parts are used to repair my car?)

When a car needs structural repair, parts for a GM, Chrysler, VW, or even a BMW are sourced from factories that have never produced, or likely ever even seen, the whole vehicle.

Replacement body parts often don’t come from the manufacturer that produced the originals used in the fabrication of the car, but very likely will come from a factory that produces only parts for the aftermarket network of buyers and distributors.

That’s because there is a flourishing market in parts manufactured all over the globe, but mainly in China, that represents a billion dollars plus in imports to the U.S. market.

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Collision Photography

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Taking high quality collision photos is a must when validating vehicle damage written on your estimate. Hi-Tech Toolbox™ hosts Bob Medved and Roger Cada discuss and demonstrate proven methods for improving your collision photography.

Paint materials profits

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Think you’re not making enough profit on paint materials? Here’s the process I would use to determine if this is the case and if so, fix it.

First, I’d look at your profit-and-loss statement to see how you are doing against two key benchmarks for paint materials. I’d look at your sales to make sure that paint materials account for 10 percent or more of your total sales. Then I’d look at your cost-of-goods-sold (COGS) to make sure you weren’t spending more than 6 percent of your total sales on paint materials.

Those benchmarks on a per-job basis mean that for a $1,000 job, you should charge $100 or more for paint materials, and your paint materials costs for that job shouldn’t exceed $60.

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