Collision Repair Process
With today's advanced collision repair equipment, paints and repair processes, it is now possible to recapture the original factory look and feel of a car or truck after a collision. When you trust your vehicle’s repairs to AW Collision Centers, you are guaranteed quality workmanship and attention to every detail. To ensure performance, we follow a proven repair process, and offer the following services:
Understanding The Collision Repair Process
If your vehicle has been damaged in a collision, you probably heard this common misconception: your vehicle will never be the same. Chances are, it wasn’t your insurance company representative or an employee of a collision repair business who said this. That’s because every day collision industry professionals return collision-damaged vehicles to their previous condition - both structurally and cosmetically.
So what does it take to repair your vehicle properly after an accident? Because of today’s complex vehicles and high-quality paint finishes, technicians need to be properly trained in the entire repair process to achieve complete and safe repairs.
The repair process begins when a detailed estimate is prepared, indicating all of the repairs needed to restore your vehicle to proper function and apperance. In some cases, this damage assessment requires removing damaged body panels or other parts. This results in the most accurate initial estimate possible. The parts listed on the estimate are then ordered. The collision repair business and your insurance company should explain whether the replacement parts are new parts ordered from the manufacturer of your vehicle, used parts ordered through an automotive recycler, or new parts manufactured by a company other than the manufacturer of your vehicle. Your collision repair business and insurer can explain the pros and cons of using each of these types of parts.
If your vehicle was hit hard in the collision, the repair facility should use a measuring system that checks specific points of your vehicle structure against dimensions provided by the vehicle or equipment manufacturer. The repair facility will also need to measure your vehicle several times during the repair process to make sure it is within the recommended tolerances. In most cases, this tolerance is a strict as three millimeters – the thickness of three dimes. Some vehicles today require a tolerance no greater than one millimeter.
Whenever appropriate, original parts are repaired. Severely damaged parts need to be replaced. A properly trained technician can repair sheet metal and plastic so that it can be difficult, if not impossible, to find any indication of damage. In some cases, parts not included on the estimate may need to be ordered during the repair process if "hidden" damage is found.
After repairs are complete, the vehicle is ready to be painted. The areas to be painted are first prepared. Repaired areas are finely sanded, primer and corrosion protection products are applied and areas that won’t be painted are “masked off” and protected. The painter then uses a paint mixing system to mix the paint that will match your vehicle’s finish. A paint code on your vehicle provides the starting point, but generally requires a trained eye to match the paint to your vehicle. Often, paint will require "blending," a technique used to facilitate matching the color of your car. The paint is sprayed inside a spray booth designed to keep dust and other contaminants off the new finish.
Once the painting is complete, the vehicle is reassembled with all trim pieces, decals, and stripes. If any new glass is needed, it is usually installed at this point. The wheel alignment will also be checked if the collision damage was severe, if the vehicle spun, or if a tire, wheel, or suspension parts were damaged in the collision. This helps to catch any potential problems with the steering and suspension parts.
Finally, your vehicle is taken to the detailing area for a thorough interior and exterior cleaning. Any minor imperfections in the new paint surface will be removed by polishing and buffing. A final inspection checks that all work meets the repair facility’s standards and the final paperwork is prepared for the vehicle owner and involved insurer.
Throughout this process, the repair business will be in contact with the insurance company handling the claim. The insurer may want to review the estimate and inspect the vehicle before or during the repair process. In some cases, the repair facility may need to obtain insurer and vehicle owner approval before completing additional necessary repairs not included on the initial estimate.
Locating a collision repair business that will follow the above procedures is important for any vehicle owner. Insurers and collision repair business owners alike say the key is looking for evidence of properly trained technicians, such as the Gold Class Professional designation.
This stage of the repair process includes all the techniques necessary to correct structural and sheet metal damage caused by the accident, including:
- Correct Structural or Frame Damage
- Weld on structural parts
- Pre fit bolt-on sheet metal parts
- Repair sheet metal
- The term "body repair" or "body work" refers to the repair of the external shell of the vehicle, replacement of sheet metal, trim, and minor structural items. The decision to repair or replace the external shell often determines the extent of the refinish work required and the feasibility of returning your vehicle to its pre-accident condition.
- As AW Collision consultants we will always advise you on the bestmethod to restore your vehicle. For instance, in order to avoid breaking factory-weld seams or to minimize the extent of painting required, we may suggest repair rather than replacement. The best body repair method is not based on who is paying the bill or who caused the accident--these decisions are based on our responsibility to you and the integrity of your vehicle.