Collision Repair News

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Another version of electric-assist vehicle technology is showing up in collision repair facilities. General Motors in 2012 introduced what it refers to as "light electrification" technology on select models. This system is called eAssist, and is available on some 2012 Buick LaCrosse, Regal, and 2013 Chevrolet Malibu models (see Figure 1).


The challenges for vehicle makers to make vehicles safe and strong as well as lightweight have resulted in material variations. Many of today's steel-structured vehicles use steel in the range of 0.70 mm thickness for the outer panels, and a thicker, and in many cases higher strength, steel for the structure. This has resulted in I-CAR revising its Welding Training & Certification™: Steel GMA (MIG) Welding (WCS03)to more accurately reflect the thicknesses of steels being used.


Until recently, General Motors has generally specified butt joints with backings when sectioning parts of a uniside. However, an overlap joint is now being required for some uniside sectioning joints. This is being done to reduce the transfer of heat from GMA (MIG) welding into heat-sensitive high- and ultra-high-strength steel reinforcements. The concern with a butt joint with backing is that the backing piece does not extend to the pinchweld flange, and leaves the reinforcement exposed. As a result, a GMA (MIG) weld is made on the pinchweld flange area of the reinforcement (see Figure 1).


As BMW Groups' vehicle construction technology advances, so does the repair process required to fix them properly. Conventional welding, which has been used primarily in BMW Groups' repair processes in the past, is slowly becoming the secondary method to bonding and rivet bonding technology. BMW currently recommends primarily using bonding and rivet bonding to replace exterior body panels, structural parts, and sectioning specific locations in conjunction with VIN-specific repair procedures. Changes in recommended repair procedures affect all current production models. This does not mean that all models, and all parts, are affected though. Consulting VIN-specific repair procedures should always be the first step in the repair process. The same is true for Mini and for Rolls-Royce vehicles (see Figure 1).


A small motor oil spill incident at the I-CAR Tech Center in Appleton, Wisconsin in the spring of 2011 has raised our awareness of the many considerations involved with a material spill into the environment. What started as an accidental collision between a snowplow and a 55-gallon drum of waste oil on an adjoining property resulted in an experience we would never want to repeat.


Beginning with the 2009 model year Ford F-150, the cab body mount bolts are secured with a cage nut. The cage nut is held in position inside a cage nut retainer that is attached to the inside of a floor crossmember. The crossmember is attached to the underside of the floor pan, which creates an enclosure for the cage nut. The retainer has two nut retaining tabs, one on each opposing side of the nut that are folded against the nut to hold it in place (see Figure 1).


Unless specifically recommended by the vehicle maker, parts with a tensile strength over 600 MPa should only be replaced at factory seams. This is just one of the "best practices" identified at a Repairability Summit hosted by I-CAR. Summit attendees consisted of subject matter experts from vehicle makers, tool and equipment makers, collision repair facilities, insurance companies, and the American Iron and Steel Institute.


I-CAR has been emphasizing the importance of three-dimensional measuring since its founding in 1979, but is it really required to repair a vehicle? After all, three-dimensional measuring systems are considerably more expensive compared to the much more affordable tape measure or tram gauge (see Figure 1).


There has been a longstanding recommendation to apply epoxy primer, as well as anti-corrosion compound, on the inside of rails and pillars and rocker panels as a last step for structural repairs. Going back as far as the July/August 1988 I-CAR Advantage, in the article "Restoring Corrosion Protection," is the following step for providing corrosion protection to enclosed interior surfaces: "Apply primer. Two-part epoxy recommended. Then apply anti-corrosion compound." The reason given, is that on areas where the coatings have been entirely removed, this is a two-step process that is replacing the two original coatings, zinc and E-coat.


When making collision repairs to the 2012 Ford Focus, be aware that the vehicle may be equipped with an active grille shutter system (see Figure 1). This motorized system is located in front of the radiator, which places it in a vulnerable position during front-end collisions.


If you were asked for a short description for anti-corrosion compound, the material that is sprayed onto the backside of panels and inside rails after repairs, it is likely that "thin film" and "fine mist" would not be included in the wording. However, that is exactly the description given to a new type of anti-corrosion compound now available that uses what is collectively called thin-film technology.


Hot air welders have been around for a number of years and used mostly in bumper remanufacturing facilities. A hot air welder works by passing compressed air over a heating element and heating the air to around 345°C (650°F) to melt the base plastic and filler rod/ribbon together. This type of welder does not use a flat shoe or feeder tube-type tip. A V-groove is cut into the part, the rod is laid into the V-groove, and the two are melted together. Whenever using this type of welder, it is important to have airflow over the element at all times no matter if it is preheating, welding, or cooling.


The 2011 Ford Fiesta is a complete reintroduction of the model name, and one glance will tell you the new Fiesta bears hardly any resemblance to its earlier 1978 namesake (see Figure 1). The Fiesta is based on Ford's new global B-platform, which is planned for use on more vehicles in the next few years. It's available in a four- and five-door body style. Both of the styles are classified as a mini-car. The 2011 Ford Fiesta is the first mini-car to earn a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety since the introduction of a new roof strength test.


There are times when collision repairs on Honda and Acura vehicles will include replacing tires. If tires need to be replaced, it is important that the appropriate size and model number tires are installed. Some replacement tires may have the same manufacturer, be the same size and model name, and look identical, but may not be the recommended replacement. Similar tires may be engineered for two entirely different types of vehicles. When replacing tires, always verify the manufacturer part number for the replacement tires (see Figure 1).


Quality repairs are essential for customer safety and satisfaction, not to mention the time saved preventing rework and comebacks. Ensuring quality repairs are completed on each and every vehicle requires a commitment from the entire team. However, the manager is primarily responsible for making sure everyone is aware of the level of quality that is expected and verifying only high-quality repairs are being completed. This will require knowing how to identify high quality repairs and ensuring that poor repairs are corrected before the vehicle is returned to the customer, or before the vehicle is moved to the next phase of the repair process.