At last November’s SEMA, I had the honor of moderating a session featuring representatives from a number of automakers.
The subject came up of the detailed safety inspections most automakers call for being done on vehicles that have been in a collision.
In many cases, these inspections require a lot: measuring the steering column, checking seat belt anchors, inspecting wiring and connectors, removing the dash to check the knee bolsters and mounting points, etc.
During the discussion, Nicole Riedel of Subaru of America was asked if the detailed, labor-intensive safety inspections that her company---like many other automakers---call for really must be done on every vehicle undergoing collision repairs.
“Every time,” Riedel emphasized. “Even if you are in New York City and vehicles are just getting sideview mirrors clipped, you still have to do it (after those repairs.) We will not deviate from that procedure…We need you to do it every single time.”
I think it’s critically important that shops research on every job what safety inspections the particular automaker is calling for, to educate themselves, their customer and, if necessary, any insurer involved.
I’m getting a lot of calls from both shops and insurance companies about these safety inspections. In some cases, the educated shops that recognize the need to do them are being told by a third party that a dealership or an OEM-certified shop says the inspections are not necessary.
My message to you, is that you, as a professional--whether a shop or an insurer---need to understand that whatever an uneducated dealer or shop thinks does not negate the need to follow the OEM procedures, nor remove you from the liability for not doing so.
I think too few shops in the industry are doing these inspections, and that makes it tougher for the shops trying to do the right thing.
There are generally very sound reasons why the post-crash safety inspection steps are so important.
One automaker explained to me, for example, that measuring the steering column is necessary because that column contains collapsible plastic bushings. If those bushings are collapsed, the steering column needs to be replaced. There’s no other way to know that without measuring it.
A vehicle scan isn’t going to tell you if those bushings are collapsed, or if a dash or sensor bracket or seatbelt mounting point is damaged. That all requires a visual inspection.
So first and foremost, my message here is that you need to be doing these inspections whenever they are called for under the automaker procedures.