From the Desk of Mike Anderson: Vehicle Owner’s Manuals Help Educate and Negotiate Need for Various Procedures
Written by Mike Anderson, Autobody News
Published June 7, 2019
My friend Danny Gredinberg at the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG) recently made available a document that includes links to each automaker’s database of online vehicle owner’s manuals.
I am blown away by how useful a tool this can be. If you haven’t taken some time to review some of these manuals, you’re missing out on awesome content that can help you or your estimators with damage analysis.
I know from the “Who Pays for What?” surveys I conduct with CRASH Network that only about one-third of shops say they are being paid regularly to inspect seat belts when they do it—and bill for it—as a necessary and “not included” repair procedure. However, nearly half of all shops say they’ve never sought to be paid for this critical step.
The owner’s manuals are a great tool to educate your customers about the importance of this necessary step. For example, take a look at the owner’s manual for the 2017 Nissan Armada. It states that “All seat belt assemblies, including retractors and attaching hardware, should be inspected after any collision. Seat belt assemblies not in use during a collision should also be inspected and replaced if either damage or improper operation is noted.” If a seat belt pre-tensioner has activated, “it cannot be reused and must be replaced together with the retractor.”
Now, keep in mind, this doesn’t apply to every Nissan vehicle. The manuals are specific to the model and year of the vehicle. That’s why, like the OEM repair procedures themselves, the owner’s manuals can be more effective than automaker position statements at demonstrating the need for certain procedures to take place.
I’m sure many of you have had an insurance company say they don’t want to pay for a vehicle scan, right? They may say, “I don’t care what the automaker’s position statement is.” So, again, take a look at that same owner’s manual for the 2017 Armada. It very clearly states: “If there is an impact to your vehicle from any direction, your Occupant Classification Sensor (OCS) should be checked to verify it is still functioning correctly.”
The OCS, it says, “should be checked even if no airbags deploy as a result of the impact. Failure to verify proper OCS function may result in an improper airbag deployment resulting in injury or death.”
That’s a pretty strong statement. The only way to check your OCS is with a vehicle scan. Some automakers also require a scan as part of the seat belt inspection.
I think you will be surprised by some of what you can find in the owner’s manuals. One of the things I would encourage you to do is review the owner’s manual for each vehicle with the owner when they are dropping it off for repairs.
If you’re certified by the automaker and equipped to conduct the inspections, you can let the customer know you will do this as part of the repair, or you can let them know you will sublet it to a dealer. Using the owner’s manual is a great way to educate your customer early in the process.
Furthermore, customers want to do business with someone they trust and this is a great way to help gain their trust.
In my next column, I’ll dig more into the topic of building customer trust.