Auto Body Repair focuses on repairing and restoring vehicles. This type of work requires attention to detail and a strong mechanical aptitude.
A good auto body shop will follow the vehicle manufacturer’s suggested repair procedures. This is especially important as more shops sign PBAs with insurers. These contracts spell out KPI goals such as cycle time and CSI.
A vehicle frame is essentially the foundation of your car. It is a strong steel base that supports the rest of your car, including the doors and windows, engine, bumpers, and crumple zones. When the frame is damaged, it can affect all of these things, making your car harder to drive or even unsafe to do so. It can also lead to rust and other issues down the road, so it is important to recognize when there is frame damage and get it repaired as soon as possible.
Whether you have a unibody or ladder frame, there are certain signs that you may need to have the frame repaired. Unibody frames are the most common in passenger vehicles and are designed to combine the frame and body into one unified piece. This design is lighter, offers better fuel economy, and has stronger structural integrity than older ladder frames. However, this type of frame is also more fragile. In the case of a collision, the frame is designed to crush or collapse in an effort to protect passengers. This can cause damage that cannot be fixed by straightening the frame alone.
Ladder frames, on the other hand, are still in use in some larger vehicles and offer superior durability. These frames feature a series of symmetrical rails and cross rungs that support the power train and the body panels. They are less expensive than unibody frames but do require specialized tools to repair. The best way to determine what kind of frame you have is to take it to a shop that has the appropriate equipment.
When you bring your vehicle in for a frame repair, technicians will place it on a jig. These are large platforms that have a couple of rotatable towers. Clamps are used to bolt the damaged vehicle onto the jig, and chains are then attached to specific points on the frame. The machine then uses hydraulics and torque to pull or push the frame back into its original shape. This can be a lengthy process, but it is necessary for restoring the integrity of your vehicle’s frame.
When it comes to restoring a vehicle after an accident, perfect paint matching is important not just for resale value but also so that a customer feels good about their car. That’s why many body shops offer a wide range of services related to paint repair, from basic chip touch-ups to full repainting of a panel or more.
The first step in determining how much your paint repairs will cost is to decide what kind of damage you have. Some scratches, chips, and scrapes are more extensive than others. Minor paint chips and scratches are contained within the clear coat (the thin layer that protects your car’s finish from contaminants) and don’t extend into the actual paint. Extensive paint damage is a bit deeper and can cause the metal to show through. Scratches that go past the clear coat and into the actual paint and extend over 6 inches are considered extensive.
In order to properly fix these kinds of damages, the first thing a professional painter will do is sand the affected area and prepare it for painting. They may also use a primer, depending on the type of paint being used. Then they will add the desired color and clear coat to match the rest of the car.
Auto body repair students learn how to do these procedures through hands-on, real-world training in the lab and at local collision centers. This work-based learning experience gives them an opportunity to learn about the latest techniques, materials, and equipment in this industry while helping them explore career opportunities in this highly lucrative field.
For moderate-to-extensive paint damage that’s too extensive for touch-up or mobile spray painting, you’ll need to bring your vehicle to a collision center. Collision centers have the equipment and trained technicians to provide you with a flawless paint job.
If you have any doubts about whether your insurance company will cover the cost of these repairs, check with your local Service King to see how they can help. Then, make sure to keep your car looking great by getting a wax job every 3–4 months.
In addition to repairing body damage, auto body repair technicians also take care of internal repairs. Some of the most important internal repairs are those involving the frame, structure, and mechanical components of your car. These repairs may be difficult to notice, but they can affect your vehicle’s safety and performance.
An internal repair can be as simple as replacing a broken door handle or as complex as reshaping your vehicle’s frame after a collision. The first step is assessing the damage to determine what type of repair is required. Once the assessment is complete, technicians will develop a repair plan. This will include the cost, time, and materials needed to repair your car.
This process requires the use of tools, equipment, and technical knowledge specific to your make and model. For example, it is not safe to weld aluminum in the same way as steel. Using the incorrect welding technique could cause the metal to degrade or even melt off the adhesive connections on other parts of your vehicle.
During this phase, the body paneling is repaired or replaced as necessary. This includes the doors, trunk, and hood. Auto body technicians will also work on any damaged suspension, engine, or electrical systems. This includes anything from power windows to security alarms. Even a minor collision can damage these delicate wiring and electrical systems. If left unchecked, these issues can lead to expensive electrical repairs down the road.
Once the bodywork and painting are complete, auto body repairers will reassemble your vehicle and install any parts that were repaired or replaced. They will use paint mixing and matching techniques and spray guns to ensure a consistent and professional finish. They will also clean and buff the painted areas to prepare them for the final inspection.
A thorough post-repair inspection is the last step before your car is returned to you. This step verifies that the original damage was fully assessed and that all of the repair work was completed correctly. It also gives you a chance to see if any hidden damage was overlooked.
If you are not satisfied with the work performed by the auto body shop, be sure to contact them and explain your concerns. It is important to let a representative know about any issues that you are having so they can correct the problem before it gets out of hand.
During this phase, technicians will perform a thorough quality control inspection to ensure all repairs have been completed to the manufacturer’s standards. This will include things like re-checking for electrical issues, checking the integrity of the repair, making sure corrosion protection has been restored to pinch weld flanges, checking that the plastic liners that close off many underbody areas on today’s vehicles have been installed properly, and many other small but important things that often get missed in the rush to turn a vehicle around.
The final QC process in an auto body shop can be as simple as running through a checklist with the manager or designated quality control technician. This step is a great way to prevent some of the costly mistakes that can slip through the cracks in high-volume, high-pressure shops where technicians are racing against time to get vehicles back out the door as fast as possible.
This stage is also a good opportunity to verify that all parts ordered are available and ready for pickup, as well as that the final bill is correct. It is also a time to recheck the frame and mechanical work with an electronic measuring system to make sure they are in line with factory specifications to prevent future problems and the need for emergency adjustments.
Once the refinishing process is complete, the car will go to the reassembly area to have all moldings replaced and any final touches added. Then the car will go to the paint preparation department to be taped, prepped, and primed before painting begins. Finally, the car will be repainted with both a base coat and a clear coat and then cleared again for a beautiful shine.
After a vehicle is repaired, it is a good idea for a post-repair inspection to be done by a third party, not the shop that performed the work. This will give you peace of mind that everything has been done correctly and that there are no hidden issues that may come up in the future. It is a little like getting a second opinion from a doctor after a medical procedure.