Always Follow Vehicle Maker Procedures

Always Follow Vehicle Maker Procedures

We often receive Ask I-CAR inquiries asking: “what does I-CAR recommend?” Many times these questions are in regards to sectioning, straightening, or part replacement/attachment methods. Our first response is always:

“Follow the vehicle maker procedures.”

It is important to note that the procedures provided by the vehicle maker are service specifications, not recommendations. Think of these procedures as no different than service information for transmission or engine repair, where specific procedures must be followed in the proper order.

Following the OEM procedures is the best way to achieve complete, safe, quality repairs. This could include vehicle specific repair information, or general vehicle maker information. Deciding on the best approach may have a few steps:

  1. First and foremost, always refer to the body repair manual for the make, model, year, and part in question.
  2. If the information doesn’t exist, the next step would be to refer to any OEM-specific published position statement or general procedure.
  3. If there is no vehicle specific repair information and no OEM published position statement or general procedure, the last step would be to look for I-CAR published best practices. Published I-CAR best practices are inter-industry developed and vetted guidelines.

Let’s look at a couple of scenarios. First, let’s look at sectioning an outer uniside of a 2015 Honda Accord. Honda offers information on complete part replacement of parts of the uniside, but does NOT have a specific sectioning cut location. Does this mean you can’t section the uniside of this vehicle? Not necessarily…according to a 2014 Honda Body Repair News publication. Honda allows for sectioning of outer body panels, provided the part meets all of the guidelines that Honda has included in the document.

So, why not just publish a sectioning procedure? Because Honda cannot account for every type of collision, they allow some leeway for repairs. Additionally, according to the Honda document, while “replacement of steel parts at factory seams and matching the replacement part configuration remain the preferred repair methods…these methods are not always practical nor cost effective in all body repair situations.” Other vehicle makers offer similar positions that don’t always appear in the vehicle-specific body repair manual. Other vehicle makers, however, specifically state that a part should not be sectioned unless a procedure is available. It’s imperative to do thorough research for each vehicle being repaired.

But what if there isn’t a procedure or OEM-specific published position statement or general procedure? Then, and only then, you can look to industry vetted and I-CAR published best practices. In this scenario, let’s look at a repair vs. replace situation for a structural part that we’ve identified as ultra-high-strength steel (UHSS). After researching vehicle- and OEM-specific information, yielding no results, the next step would be to research I-CAR published documentation. Because the damaged part in this scenario is UHSS (over 600 MPa) and there is an inter-industry vetted and I-CAR published best practice that says damage to parts over 600 MPa should NOT be straightened, part replacement would be the only option.

Developing the best repair plan requires thorough research that should always start with the vehicle maker procedures.