Does Your Pennsylvania Body Shop Know Where The OEM Welds Go? Guess Again.

Fact #1: Your car repair will probably require some sort of welding. Fact #2: Not every auto body repair shop knows how to weld the right way, and as a result, your safety will be at risk.

When you go into work every day for many years, you have an idea of what your job requirements are. Even if there need to be a few changes here and there, you’re already pretty much an expert at the job you’ve been doing for decades now. But what would happen if you went to work one day and now the way you’ve been doing your job for years has completely changed, and yet nobody told you? Wouldn’t you do your job the way you have always done it? Now imagine if doing things the wrong way still looked good once it was finished, how would anybody know? And what if the way you did your job, even though it looked great, just put someone’s safety at risk or worse, kills somebody but again you have no way of knowing that you did your job wrong. This is the problem facing collision repair technicians today if their management does not support taking the time to research and build an individual repair plan for every single repair.

In today’s day and age, there is a lot of discussion in the collision repair industry about getting back to the basics of welding. Manufacturers are building cars with specific instructions on how and where to cut weld their vehicles, which is why following the repair procedures is so important. There are even some circumstances where these instructions go against the methods used just last year during a repair. Some of the OEM instructions are also counter-intuitive. They might instruct technicians to weld directly over an existing weld. In the recent past, you would never think of doing a weld that way, and if you don’t take the time to study the procedure for that specific year make and model car, you have a very high chance of guessing wrong. The result could be fatal.

The best body shops in the world pride themselves on putting your car back together exactly the way it looked when it left the showroom. A skilled technician can repair your vehicle so well that you wouldn’t even know it received any repair. In fact, a lot of collision repair technicians pride themselves on being able to perform a repair that is undetectable to the eye because of how meticulous they are throughout the whole process. There are even Facebook groups filled with posts of obviously repaired cars. You will often see a photo of a noticeable repair (usually a bad color match as the giveaway) with the tagline “OK, who done it?” 

The Difference In Original Factory Welds To Welding During The Repair:

We want to let Pennsylvania drivers know the importance of a body shop knowing where the manufacturer instructs weld repairs. For example, any technician would know to reinstall and tighten the removed bolts during the repair with the same level of strength as before. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the only thing that needs to be done in the repair process, which is where highly trained technicians know to follow OEM repair procedures from the manufacturer. There may be changes from when the car was first manufactured compared to the current repair procedures, so a technician would need to know to follow the most recent repair procedures to make sure everything is repaired the way it’s supposed to.

And yet, every car and every repair comes with their own requirements that can change from one month to another, all based on when the car was manufactured back at the factory.

And why is this?

The materials used in new car construction are designed to save your life. As a result, they sacrifice themselves while transferring crash energy away from the occupants. Throughout the repair process, these pieces must be cut out and new ones put in, but here is the problem: body shops are not manufacturers, and they do not have tooling or machinery to stamp in new parts. In several of these materials, they can’t even be welded back in because they are sensitive to heat.

Take Audi, for example. Audi’s collision instructor and curriculum designer Shawn Hart stated an Audi “…factory has a much larger power level and uses ‘enormous’ weld heads compared to an aftermarket auto body shop. The collision repair industry has an option that duplicates the process well, but can’t match it 100 percent.”

Depending on what the repair procedures call for, some structural parts and frame rails have to be glued back in, while others might need to be riveted, and certain other parts might need to be glued and riveted or glued and welded. To the craftsman, performing a repair that would be visually noticeable is unheard of. So, they might just ignore some of these repair procedures laid out by the manufacturer. This is not to say that the repairs will be noticeable to you on the outside of a vehicle, it just means that a proper repair might contain rivets on a frame rail that weren’t there when you purchased it. It may also mean that the spot welds are more massive, or there are more of them now than when the car was built. Not a big deal to you, but it’s a big deal that your technician is aware of these OEM procedures and that they follow them even if it means doing things differently for the first time in forty years. 

OEM Repairs Are The Only Way To Go 

The problem to the consumer is, and always will be (at least as of the time of this writing), no laws are forcing your shop or your technician to look up a manufacturer recommended procedure. Let alone, following these repair procedures. That’s right: you can buy unsafe repairs, and nobody and no law can stop that from happening. The state of Pennsylvania doesn’t even make it a requirement for technicians to have a license to work on your car. 

This is why consumer education in collision repair is paramount today. And protecting yourself is as simple as having a conversation with your shop before they do anything. All you have to ask is to see the procedure page for your repair. Then, ask the shop to walk you through the work performed to your car. These OEM procedure pages, or “P-Pages,” can be printed out and handed to you. Before you accept the vehicle after the repair, ask your customer service rep to show you where they followed those procedures. If you are not satisfied, refuse to take delivery of the vehicle and call your insurance company.

Who In Pennsylvania Knows Where The Manufacturer Wants Them To Weld? 

Here at 3D Collision Centers, we know that good car repair is not just repairing your car, but providing you with the highest quality and safest repairs out there for your car. That’s why we never begin any type of welding repair before we know exactly what we need to do to your car, based on what the manufacturer tells us. Since Pennsylvania doesn’t require technicians to have a license to work on your car, it all comes down to where you take it.

Our team of highly skilled auto repair technicians knows the importance of following OEM repair procedures, which have your safety as the top priority. Our technicians are all I-CAR Gold Class trained, which is the highest level of certification an auto repair technician can receive. This is especially important when there is no license required in Pennsylvania to perform car repair.

In addition to providing you with only the safest and correct repair, we will work with you and your insurance company to ensure the process is as stress-free as possible. You can think of us as your agency/policyholder liaison!

We have 7 different locations across Delaware, Chester, and Montgomery Counties. Feel free to give us a call at anytime at (877)-692-7776. For a list of the phone numbers for each of our locations or to schedule an estimate, click here.

We look forward to showing you the 3D difference!