OEMs are hard pressed to produce vehicles that are not only stylish, functional and cool looking, but that are also extremely fuel efficient and safe as well. Gasoline engines are only about 30 percent efficient, so that means 70 percent of that energy is wasted. So how can the OEMs get more miles and improve efficiency? Hybrids and electric vehicles have helped, but we still have gasoline and diesel engines. If lighter materials are used, the challenge is keeping build costs down and in turn selling prices, while also maintaining safety.
|Audi Q7 frontal components aluminum and steel|
Over the past 20 years, we have seen more and more Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS) trickle down from the high-end luxury vehicles to the mass-produced vehicles. We saw the same with aluminum components on panels for mass-produced vehicles, and now we are seeing aluminum-intensive vehicles in the less than $50k price range. Over the past few years, we have seen high-end vehicles produced with Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP). How far off do you think it is before CFRP is found in affordable mass-produced vehicles? Think about it this way: many OEs utilize plastic or plastic composite for radiator core supports. How long before they use CFRP to lighten the vehicle weight? In the near future this material will start to show up as structural components on affordable cars. Repair facilities need to be prepared to be able to repair these advanced-material vehicles.
Understanding the industry
Some of you may be reading this and thinking that what I’m telling you is nothing new. However, there are many shops across the country that are out of touch and repairing vehicles in the same ways they were repaired in the 60s and 70s. If you are on any of the industry Facebook pages such as — but not limited to — Collision Repair Technicians United, Auto Body Repair, National Auto Collision Instructor Association or any of the other auto body groups, you will see posts asking for opinions on equipment choices for upgrades, questions about repair procedures that seem to not make sense, material types, and even how to handle a particular issue or problem pertaining to a claim. However, more often than many would prefer, you will see posts on clipping, rolling clip or full-body sectioning and how the posting technician feels they did a great job. Then all hell breaks loose. Comments roll in on why these procedures shouldn’t be performed, and then egos kick in and it gets ugly.
|Audi Q7 lower front aluminum rail sectioning bolt bonding|
|Audi TT A-pillar sectioning rivet bonding, FDS bonding and bolt bonding|
You will also see posts with panels that should be replaced, and there is body filler top to bottom, left to right, side to side, and once again an educational conversation turns into an ego measuring contest. Surprisingly, after all the mudslinging and name calling, most of the technicians who at first tried to defend an incorrect repair come away actually understanding what they should have done.
A diagnosis from Dr. Montanez
The main issue is that many people in our industry suffer from one or more of several aliments. These aliments include:
- A shop owner who will not invest in equipment and or training.
- Technicians who are not properly trained.
- Technicians focused on completing repairs quickly as it impacts their pay, rather than on proper repairs.
- Shop management and/or estimators who cater to an insurer’s preferences either on a direct repair or in an independent shop.
- Lack of knowledge on OEM repair procedures, materials and/or state laws and rules.
- Lack of training on modern equipment.
- Techs and owners who don’t read industry magazines or keep up with industry trends and technology.
Do you suffer from one or more of these? Dr. Montanez is going to help you overcome these aliments with the following prescriptions.