During a panel discussion at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) last month, Darrell Amberson of LaMettry's Collision in Minnesota, said he's seen collision repairers sometimes questioning OEM procedures, just as some insurers do. "There are those who in some cases may not be educated and believe the way they have been doing things works fine," Amberson said. "There are those who question the manufacturers. I frequently hear comments like, 'They are just looking after themselves,' or 'They come up with policies that are over-the-top so therefore we don't have to give too much credibility to them.'" But panelist John Eck of General Motors said following OEM procedures makes sense because the only alternative is "leaving it to every man, woman and child to figure that out for themselves." "Is there anybody else writing repair procedures for GM vehicles," Eck asked rhetorically. "Anyone that is tearing these cars apart, testing different weld techniques? What are the alternative procedures?" Eck said some attempts to legislate at a state level the use of OEM procedures have incorporated the issue with limits on the use of non-OEM parts, but he sees the two as distinct issues. (The Automotive Service Association and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers say they plan to push for OEM procedure legislation in some states next year but have not said whether limits on non-OEM parts use will be part of that effort.) "In my world, those are two different things," Eck said. "Repair procedures are how you fix the car; parts are about what you're putting on”.

The dash light myth

   Is your shop catching the post-crash problems that don’t trigger an idiot light?

Some people won’t like my saying this, but I’m not as worried as others are about some of the things happening in the industry. I’m not saying that parts acquisition systems aren’t a legitimate concern. I’m not saying you shouldn’t worry about the privacy of your customer and shop data. If those are the things you decide to focus your attention on, that’s fine.

While I understand people’s concerns about such things, these issues aren’t what keeps me awake at night. What keeps me awake is this: Are shops fixing cars properly? And unfortunately – and this is what some people won’t like hearing – I’m not convinced that the majority of shops in our industry are fixing cars properly.

For example, at some of the seminars I conduct, I’ll ask: “How many of you have done a zero-point calibration on a Toyota after completing collision repairs?” Hardly anyone raises their hand. They don’t even know what I’m talking about. Yet, it’s a required step on many vehicles with electronic stability control.

Or I’ll ask, “How many of you know you shouldn’t weld within 12 inches of any electronic component?” Most hands will go up for that. Yet, when I’m out in shops, I frequently see welding taking place less than 12 inches from airbags or other electrical components.

This is the stuff that concerns me.

Part of what goes along with this problem is a common myth I hear: If there are no warning lights on the dash, it’s all good. But there are many things that need to be addressed following an accident that may not, if left undone, trigger a dash light. But they will show up in a scan of the vehicle and may affect the vehicle’s performance down the road.

Take that zero-point recalibration of the steering angle sensor that is part of the electronic stability control system, for example. Skipping this step won’t result in a “trouble light” on the dash. The vehicle may even handle properly under normal driving conditions, even if the system is not calibrated. But the electronic stability control function may not work properly when it’s needed most — in a subsequent “emergency maneuver.”

Other disabled systems don’t always trigger a dash light. And some warning lights can be cleared with a certain number of cycles of the key – even if the system is not repaired. Still other dash lights will only illuminate after the vehicle has been driven a specific distance after the fault code has been triggered.

I’ve previously written about the necessity of your shop having access to (and using) automaker repair information. But the “dash light myth” points to the importance of also being able to scan vehicles to check for fault codes and other information vital to restoring the vehicle to pre-accident condition.

Automaker scan tools are not inexpensive, particularly for a shop working on a variety of makes of vehicles. But just like the OEM repair information, they are becoming a crucial tool for repairing vehicles properly.

Aftermarket scan tools are an alternative, though they don’t always access all of the modules of each vehicle.

I’ve also seen some demonstrations of a relatively new tool and service (called ASTech from Automotive Electronic Solutions) that may offer another alternative for shops diagnosing vehicles during blueprinting or doing quality control post-repair. The tool connects to the vehicle’s diagnostic port and to the Internet. Codes from the vehicle can then be read (and even reset) remotely through the Internet by the company’s team of trained technicians who are using the automaker’s scanner and software.

In one of the demonstrations I’ve seen, the remote tech found a seatbelt sensor that was bad; it hadn’t triggered a dash light, yet could have affected the firing of the airbag in a subsequent collision.

So I’m not saying you’re wrong if there are other industry issues you’re concerned about. But I think it’s even more important to make sure you have the tools and information you need to ensure you’re fixing vehicles fully and correctly. And if part of your system for doing so is relying solely on the warning lights on the dashboard, that may be why those sometimes go by the nickname “idiot lights.”

By:  Mike Anderson  August 12th, 2013


The U.S. government and a group of 18 automakers said today they are committed to exploring new ways to improve automotive safety and expressed a willingness to share some information or best practices about ways to track data and defects.

The commitment comes on the heels of a two-year period of automotive history characterized by record-setting numbers of recalls, record civil penalties levied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a number of Congressional hearings to investigate companies including General Motors, Takata and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

But this week, at several events and news conferences, the U.S. government stressed that it is less interested in pushing for recalls and levying fines after safety problems occur and more interested in preventing safety defects before they occur.

"Today, the Department of Transportation and the automakers represented here are taking a strong stand in favor of a new approach, an approach that leans heavily on being proactive, and less heavily on being reactive," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said on Friday at the Detroit auto show.

Foxx outlined four broad principles that automakers agreed on. They include a commitment to explore the possibility of sharing traffic and safety data as well as some research and development.

The four main principles include:


  • Enhance and facilitate proactive safety
  • Enhance analysis and examination of early warning reporting data
  • Maximize safety recall participation rates 
  • Enhance automotive cybersecurity.

"Perhaps years from now we will look back at this moment, at a time when there may have been some skepticism about the safety of the automotive industry in general, and see that the industry stepped up and made a hard pivot with us towards a more proactive culture," Foxx said.

The agreement is modeled after the Federal Aviation Administration's Safety Management System. That system allows airlines to share data anonymously that helps to improve safety and avoid crashes.

Foxx said the FAA's system "has dramatically reduced aviation accidents in our skies and it relies on information sharing and the trust established by FAA and  its stakeholders."

Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind were flanked by a number of top automotive executives, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, Toyota President of North America Jim Lentz, Hyundai North America President and CEO Dave Zuchowski and General Motors CEO Mary Barra.

"I see this as a real opportunity and a foundation that we can build on," Barra said. "I do think we will look back and see that this was very historic."

Said Hyundai Chief Legal and Safety Officer Gerald Flannery: “Hyundai has worked enormously hard the past several years on a wide variety of safety issues. We will be broadening our scope and working even more diligently with our partners in this collaborative effort to improve vehicle safety."

Friday's agreement came after a whirlwind week Rosekind, who met throughout the week with a number of automakers and top executives. On Tuesday, Rosekind said he had "great optimism," about the agreement but wasn't yet sure it would come together.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said earlier this week that he appreciates the new approach that Rosekind is taking, even though the Auburn Hills automaker was subjected to $175 million in civil penalties.

"I think Rosekind is trying to transition NHTSA into a different kind of relationship with the (manufacturers)," Marchionne said after a meeting on Tuesday. "I agree with the end goal. We aren’t going to agree with each other every step of the way."



Rust on a Car


At some point during its life you will inevitably find rust on a car, somewhere. Rust is a more or less unavoidable symptom of an aging vehicle. Chrome and metal bumpers are particularly susceptible to rust over the years and there are a couple of main causes.

1 – Weather Conditions

We all know that rain will make metal go rusty eventually. Left outside, a metal object will become wet exposed to the elements. When this happens, oxidation takes place and cars are a prime target. Even the body work can be affected badly if there are chips or scratches in the paint work. Exposed metal will be vulnerable to rain and sun as well as extreme temperatures. This is one of the speediest ways for a car to become rust infested.

2 – Regions

Coastal regions can play a huge part in the oxidizing destruction of a car. Salty sea water is a serious enemy of metallic objects and will attack without remorse if metal is left untreated or exposed. Cold climates and extremely warm climates will have a similar effect and cause rust on the vehicle.

3 – Neglect

Even though the two previous points might play huge roles in causing rust on your vehicle, you should also consider the idea of neglect. If you fail to clean your car or protect your car inside a garage or wax your car you will leave it open to attack. Keep your car out of the weather and look after it to prevent rust from attacking your own vehicle.