Update: Are General Sectioning Guidelines Still Applicable?

Because an OEM procedure exists general sectioning guidelines would not apply.
Because an OEM procedure exists general sectioning guidelines would not apply.

Sectioning: the process of cutting a portion of a part based on the location of collision damage and vehicle maker recommendations, removing the part, and installing a portion of the undamaged service part. Additionally, sectioning is a process that is done away from a factory seam.

A lot has changed over the past several years and the I-CAR position on general sectioning guidelines has changed significantly over those years. Current I-CAR courses suggest that:

If there are no published sectioning procedures available from the vehicle maker, do not section. The complete part should be replaced at factory seams, unless the OEM allows for partial part replacement at a factory seam.

Why don’t general sectioning guidelines apply to today’s late-model vehicles? The general sectioning guidelines that were developed in the late 1980s were done on mild steel vehicles. Those vehicles are not representative of today’s vehicles that are built with a significant amount of high- and ultra-high-strength steel (HSS and UHSS). General sectioning guidelines have never been tested on HSS/UHSS rich vehicles and I-CAR does not, currently, have any plans to do so.

Additionally, the general sectioning guidelines warned about sectioning near reinforcements or collapse zones. With the increased use of HSS and UHSS, and new part designs, it is nearly impossible to concretely identify which areas are designed to transfer collision energy (a reinforcement), and which areas are designed to absorb collision energy (collapse or crush zones). Because of these two focal points of the general sectioning guidelines, today’s vehicles wouldn’t even qualify for the application of general sectioning guidelines.

Fortunately, many vehicle makers offer a significant number of published sectioning procedures (or provide optional locations/zones) for sectioning, or provide warnings against sectioning; this should take any guesswork out of the equation.

Related I-CAR Courses