Real Fact #1: your auto body repair probably requires welding. Real Fact #2: Not all New Jersey auto body shops know how to weld correctly. As a result, your safety could be at risk. We’re here to tell New Jersey drivers the importance of a shop knowing where the OEM welds go and what this means for your safety.
But before we do, let’s back it up a bit. When you go into work every day for five, ten, or even twenty years, it’s safe to say you know what you’re doing. Sure the specifics of what you are working on may change (as with any job), but for the most part, you are getting paid to do a job that you are already an expert in. What would happen if one day you go into work and the way you are supposed to do things is completely changed and nobody told you? Would you just do your job the way you’ve always done or would you change it to fit these new ways?
Now, imagine if doing things the wrong way still “looked” good once you were all done. How would anybody know that you did it the wrong way when everything looked fixed and the job was done? And what if the way you did your job, even though it looked great, just put someone’s safety at risk? Even worse, what if the job you did just cost that person their life?
This entire “what if” scenario is the reality collision repair technicians are currently facing today if their management does not support taking the time to research and build an individual repair plan for every single repair. As a result, the safety of drivers is severely compromised after they get their car repaired.
There is a lot of chatter today in the collision repair industry about getting back to the basics of welding. Manufacturers are building cars with specific instructions on how and where to cut weld their vehicles, which is why following the repair procedures is so important. In some instances, these instructions go against the methods used even just last year. Some of the OEM instructions are also counter-intuitive. They might instruct technicians to weld directly over an existing weld. In the recent past, you would never think of doing a weld that way, and if you don’t take the time to study the procedure for that specific year make and model car, you have a very high chance of guessing wrong. The result could be fatal.
The best body shops in the world pride themselves on putting your car back together exactly the way it looked when it left the showroom. A skilled technician can repair your vehicle so well that it would be undetectable that the car was ever damaged or repaired. This has been a point of pride for over 100 years in the trade. There are even Facebook groups filled with posts of obviously repaired cars. You will often see a photo of a noticeable repair (usually a bad color match as the giveaway) with the tagline “OK, who done it?”
The Difference In Original Factory Welds To Welding During The Repair:
We at Autotech Collision Service feel it’s our duty as a body shop to inform New Jersey Drivers the importance of a body shop knowing where the manufacturer instructs weld repairs. Sure, any technician would know to reinstall and tighten the removed bolts during the repair with the same level of strength as before. That’s collision repair 101. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the only thing that needs to be done in the repair process. This is where the importance of following OEM repairs comes in. There may be changes from when the car was first manufactured and the current repair procedures that a technician needs to follow based on the current condition of the vehicle.
Now the manufacturers have started telling shops to stop thinking like that, which is upsetting the status quo in collision repair.
And why is this?
The materials used in new car construction are designed to save your life. As a result, they sacrifice themselves while transferring crash energy away from the occupants. Throughout the repair process, these pieces must be cut out and new ones put in, but here is the problem: body shops are not manufacturers, and they do not have tooling or machinery to stamp in new parts. In several of these materials, they can’t even be welded back in because they are sensitive to heat.
Take Audi, for example. Audi’s collision instructor and curriculum designer Shawn Hart stated an Audi “…factory has a much larger power level and uses ‘enormous’ weld heads compared to an aftermarket auto body shop. The collision repair industry has an option that duplicates the process well, but can’t match it 100 percent.”
What this means for you is if a body shop doesn’t follow the instructions laid out by your car’s manufacturer and chooses to use aftermarket parts instead, there’s no 100% it will to provide you with the safety an OEM repair would.
You see, some structural parts and frame rails have to be glued back in, some have to be riveted back in, and some need to be glued and riveted or glued and welded. It all depends on what needs to be done in the repair process. To the craftsman, performing a repair that would be visually noticeable is unheard of. So, they might ignore the directives set forth by the manufacturer in an effort to “save time” in the repair process. This is not to say that the repairs will be noticeable to you on the outside of a vehicle, it just means that a proper repair might contain rivets on a frame rail that weren’t there when you purchased it. It may also mean that the spot welds are more massive, or there are more of them now than when the car was built. Not a big deal to you, but it’s a big deal that your technician is aware of these OEM procedures and that they follow them even if it means doing things differently for the first time in forty years.
OEM Repairs Are The Only Way To Go
The problem to the consumer is, and always will be (at least as of the time of this writing), no laws are forcing your shop or your technician to look up a manufacturer recommended procedure. Let alone, following these repair procedures. That’s right: you can buy unsafe repairs, and nobody and no law can stop that from happening.
This is why consumer education in collision repair is so critical today. And protecting yourself is as simple as having a conversation with your shop before they do anything. All you have to ask is to see the procedure page for your repair. Then, ask the shop to walk you through the work performed to your car. These OEM procedure pages, or “P-Pages,” can be printed out and handed to you. Before you accept the vehicle after the repair, ask your customer service rep to show you where they followed those procedures. If you are not satisfied, refuse to take delivery of the vehicle and call your insurance company.
Who In New Jersey Knows Where The Manufacturer Wants Them To Weld?
You would think that every auto body repair shop would do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of the customer is not compromised in any way, especially when it comes to welding. Unfortunately, there is no law in New Jersey requiring a technician to follow OEM repairs or use OEM parts. Thankfully, you as the customer get to choose where you get your car repaired.
Here at Autotech Collision Service, we are OEM certified in over a dozen different vehicle brands because we want to provide our customers with the best auto body repair New Jersey has to offer.
We have been proudly serving Southern New Jersey for nearly 30 years and aren’t stopping anytime soon because our customers are our number one priority. We pride ourselves in providing Southern New Jersey drivers with the highest quality OEM repairs because that’s what you deserve out of an auto body repair shop.