Factory Built vs. Repair Procedure

2017 Cadillac ATS outer roof panel replacement procedure.
2017 Cadillac ATS outer roof panel replacement procedure.

When a vehicle is produced at the factory, speed of production is a major factor for the OEM. This means that a lot of time and money is invested into machines that can produce a quality product in a short amount of time. However, the collision repair industry does not often have access to the same technology used on the factory floor. The OEMs recognize that a method used at the factory will not always be possible during repair. Also, some vehicles have global platforms and the OEMs know that certain products may not be available in all areas of the world. By taking this into account, OEMs create repair procedures to fit the collision repair industry while maintaining the safety and quality that the vehicle had from the factory. So when looking at a repair procedure, the procedure may specify to use a material that was not originally used on the vehicle during assembly. Let’s take a closer look at some of the differences.

Laser welds, laser-brazed welds, and laser-screw welds cannot be duplicated in a collision facility. These types of welds are created by precision robots, and can’t be done by humans. When doing a repair procedure on a vehicle that uses these types of welds, the procedure may be very different. Some procedures may specify that adhesive, spot welds, and/or plugs welds be used in place of these laser-welded areas.

Even some outer quarter panel replacement procedures differ from the factory. The factory may have used adhesive to attach a hem flange from the factory. However, the procedure may specify to use a seam sealer or urethane to replace the adhesive.

Some parts made of high-strength steels and ultra-high-strength steels, can be adversely affected by heat. These parts may not be able to be installed with traditional gas metal arc welding, due to the heat-affected zone (HAZ). Sometimes, using squeeze-type resistance spot welding (STRSW) in repairs may not be an option, due to location and access of the part. In these cases, the OEM might require rivet bonding or MIG brazing to attach the new part.

Aluminum vehicles normally use self-piercing rivets (SPR) for fasteners, at the factory. An SPR may not always be replaced by an SPR during repair. Sometimes, blind rivets may be used, while other times, plug welds will take the place of the SPR.

Though the repair procedures might be different than how the vehicle was originally built, the procedures were created and tested to ensure the vehicle performs as designed in the next collision. In the end, always follow the OEM part specific procedures at the time of the repair to ensure complete, safe, and quality repairs.