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Properly replacing door panels: There's more to it than you think

Thursday, June 15, 2017 - 06:00
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When a vehicle door has been damaged, the first decision is to assess the extent of the damage done to the door to determine whether repair or replacement is the best option. However, it’s not just the door that needs to be taken care of. Many electronic components are located in the door. This includes alarm systems, remote keyless systems, blind spot indicators and speakers.

Beware of hidden features
Before disconnecting any of the electronics, the technician should perform a complete diagnostic pre-scan. This will determine if any hidden issues are present before the disassembling of the “door skin” or “door shell” begins.  A "door skin" is the outer metal layer of the door. A "door shell" includes both the outer layer and the door frame. This can normally be obtained preassembled with the skin already welded and bonded to the door frame.

Many vehicle alarm systems use the switching mechanism which is already built into the doors. When the vehicle door is closed, it presses in a small, spring-activated lever, which opens the circuit. When the door is opened, the spring pushes the lever open which closes the circuit and sends electricity to the inside lights. These sensors will need to be disconnected and replaced prior to replacing the exterior door panel.

Factory specifications
Blind spot indicators and remote keyless systems will also need to be disconnected prior to disassembling the exterior door panel. Some blind spot sensors are located in the outer mirror, which is often attached to the exterior door panel. Correctly aligning cameras and/or sensors is critical to ensure the proper operation of these systems. If the alignment is off ever so slightly, these systems will not work as well as they should. When the technician uses the asTech™ device, they can return these electronics to factory specifications.

Post scan
Once the new door has been installed, the technician should perform a final diagnostic scan using the asTech™ device to ensure all electronics have all been correctly identified, adjusted and correctly calibrated.

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