An oft-overlooked issue can cause serious headaches for shops, OEMs and insurance providers.
For all the advancements made in automotive technology, there are some things that haven’t changed. Cars and trucks still tend to have four wheels, they tend to have an engine and some form of transmission and to a large extent, their bodies are still susceptible to corrosion under certain conditions, whether they’re made from ferrous metals like steel, or non ferrous ones like aluminum. In many cases, we’re now seeing a mixture of both which can present its own set of issues during the collision repair process.
In Canada, an additional problem is that much of the country is susceptible to frigid winter temperatures and significant amounts of snow. Particularly in the Eastern part of the country, local municipalities tend to drop tons of brine and salt/sand in the winter months to keep the roads clear following snowstorms.
The downside of course, is that that sand strips paint finishes, exposing bare metal, while brine and salt, attaches itself to our vehicles and if left unchecked will corrode everything from brake and fuel lines to frame rails, box sections and body panels.
In some cases, terminal rot can set in as little as 2-3 years (the average age of the Canadian vehicle fleet is more than 8 years) and often cannot be detected until its too late. A frequent issue regarding collision repairs, is that if a piece of body work or a frame rail is repaired or replaced, unless the work is performed diligently and to the highest standard, moisture can penetrate the repair which can lead to corrosion—only accelerated by exposure to salt and brine.
In a worse case scenario, a vehicle that wasn’t repaired properly—or adequate sealing or protection wasn’t performed—can quickly become structurally unsafe, particularly if it features unitized construction as is the case with most late-model cars and SUVs.
If a customer has a vehicle repaired and subsequently that vehicle is involved in another collision, like the issue of not pre and post scanning repairs, if a structural component fails and a person is fatally or seriously injured the results can be disastrous.
Today, technology enables us to detect problems as well as take images and relay information to customers like never before. Shops can show customers issues with the vehicle and ask if they would like any additional work or repairs performed. Doing so presents a potential new revenue opportunity while ensuring the shop and its staff is also protected.
Therefore, prior to teardown, a pre-repair inspection should be essential in order to not only assess current damage, but previous repairs and also the vehicle’s overall condition.
When protecting the brand (that of the shop, the OEM and the insurance provider) is of utmost importance, we, as an industry simply can’t cut corners. Okay, so there’s the pressure on cycle times—but at the end of the day, any potential liability will far outweigh time-savings. And in today’s interconnected world, we simply can’t afford that.
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