Back-To-Basics: Three-Dimensional Measurements And Welding With Loaded Suspension

Sometimes going back-to-basics can make the difference between a quality repair and a failed repair. When it comes to welding body panels to the vehicle, there are a few things to keep in mind that can have a huge effect on the quality and the outcome of the repair.

A loaded measurement is when the vehicle is resting on the suspension. An unloaded measurement is when the vehicle is lifted in the air off the suspension. There may also be different measurements based on whether or not the engine is in, or out of the vehicle. This is because the weight of the engine can affect height measurements in the front. This vehicle flexibility can also affect the three-dimensional measurements of exterior panels when checking for fit. It is important to look in the body repair manual or the measuring system for specifications on when the vehicle can be measured with loaded/unloaded suspension and engine.

If the correct vehicle measurements are not followed, it may cause gaps to be wide at one point and narrow at another. If the panels are adjusted while the vehicle is flexed, once the suspension is loaded again the panel gaps could change. If the wrong measurements are used, it is also possible that weld-on panels will dent or buckle once the suspension is loaded or the engine is installed.

Always follow OEM procedures and recommendations to ensure a complete, safe, and quality repair.

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