Is Your Shop Ready For The Future?

2016 BMW 7-Series has extensive use of carbon fiber, aluminum, and high-strength steel.

With all of the advancements in vehicle technology in recent years, it brings the need for new equipment and new training to repair modern vehicles. It also, brings the question “Is your shop ready?” Let’s take a look at some of the equipment needed for now and the future.

Traditional body repair, for many steel vehicles, may not be so traditional anymore. Not all vehicles are just steel or aluminum. The introduction of ultra-high-strength steels, carbon fiber, and aluminum within one vehicle, may change the way your shop looks and functions. Some OEMs might require special welders, rivet guns, and procedures to repair an entry level steel vehicle. Even if the vehicle is made of almost all steel the attachment methods may be different. There has been an increased use of MIG brazing, specific locations for spot welding, and areas that GMA plug welding is not allowed. Another consideration is getting an upgraded power system in the shop, which can handle the demands of modern spot welding equipment. Additionally, aluminum repairs may require a dedicated set of tools, a clean space to work in, and special welders and frame equipment.

Calibration ToolsFigure 2 - Specialized targets are used to in the forward facing camera aiming procedure for the 2016 Honda Civic.

The advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) on modern vehicles brings with it another set of tools, equipment, and required space. Many OEM calibration procedures require large, level, and open spaces, with no obstructions to perform a calibration. Some OEMs even recommend using an alignment rack to perform a calibration. Almost every OEM that requires a target for calibration has a different target than the next OEM. Due to this, it may be wise to look at what brand of vehicle you repair the most frequently and invest in their equipment. Sublet the other calibrations.

Scan ToolFigure 3 - Shown is the Toyota/Lexus/Scion Techstream.

Technology, is another growing area that future shops won’t be able to live without. With the increased pre- and post-repair system scanning being recommended by many OEMs, a quality scan tool would be a good investment. Some scan tools are simple code readers, which tend to be lower priced, but limited in capabilities. Unlike an OEM scan tool that has full vehicle-specific functionality. Each has a purpose, but need to be matched to the needs and abilities of the repair facility.

Another necessary tool is a modern computer, less than five years old, with Internet connection where technicians have access to the computer. This computer is needed to access OEM repair information websites and the I-CAR RTS portal. On the RTS portal you can find information to help with the blueprinting process, along with OEM position statements, new technologies and trends, links to OEM websites, along with videos on how to access the OEM sites. There is also Ask I-CAR, our friendly staff will get you on the fast track to finding the information you need, quickly and efficiently or escalate your questions directly to the OEM if there is no published answer.

With all of the materials, procedures, and tools mentioned above, the one thing that is required for all, is new training and information. There is no one size fits all solution for every repair facility. The universal question to ask, what will work for your repair facility? Rather than guessing, ask questions and do your research on what will work best for you.

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