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Mike Anderson

mike anderson autobody newsMike Anderson is the president and owner of Collision Advice, a consulting company for the auto body/collision repair industry. For nearly 25 years, he was the owner of Wagonwork Collision Center, an OEM-certified, full-service auto body repair facility in Alexandria, VA.

 
Tuesday, 05 July 2022 11:35

From the Desk of Mike Anderson: Collision Repair Shops Play Vital Role in Helping Reduce Vehicle-Related Deaths

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...“every seat belt of every [GM] vehicle inspected every time” a vehicle is in for repairs, “regardless of the [crash] severity level or what’s being done” to the vehicle, said John Eck, collision manager for GM.

 

We’ve been asking about seat belt inspections in our “Who Pays for What?” surveys dating back to 2016. On the surface, the news is good. Back in 2016, close to two-thirds of shops said they’d never billed for the labor involved in inspecting seat belts, and among those who had, fewer than one in four said they were paid for that work by the eight largest national insurers “always” or “most of the time.”

 

WP inspect seat belts web

 

In the seven years since, the percentage of shops not billing for the work has fallen, and the percentage being paid regularly has grown.

 

But looking at the numbers still keeps me awake at night. As of this year’s survey, there were still 28% of shops---more than one in four---that acknowledged never having billed for seat belt inspections. I have to believe many of those shops aren’t doing this critical work, perhaps because they’re not researching and following the OEM procedures.

 

And in the seven years we’ve asked, never have more than two in five shops billing for this work said the insurers regularly pay for it. How can the insurance industry deny payment for this needed step? And though shops are morally---if not otherwise---obligated to do it even if they’re not paid for it, are insurer payment practices contributing to it not being done on every single vehicle?

 

Ladies and gentlemen, it often doesn’t require any more than looking at the vehicle owner’s manual to document the seat belt inspection requirement. In the resources section of the “Who Pays” body labor report, we point to an excellent list of links to vehicle owner's manuals, put together by the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG).

 

You can take the current “Who Pays for What” survey during July here.

 

In some cases, in addition to a visual inspection, the OEM procedure may require the use of a diagnostic scan tool to check the pre-tensioners. On some Honda and Acura vehicles, for example, a deployed pre-tensioner does not trigger a diagnostic trouble code, so other “live data” from the scan must be checked. In these cases, it’s important to know I’ve read of instances where shops have found their aftermarket scan tool didn’t catch blown pre-tensioners an OEM scan did.

 

I encourage you to check the NHTSA website for some sobering statistics about highway deaths, and some tools you can use to help educate your customers.

 

But we also all need to make sure we’re not contributing to the problem, by repairing every vehicle fully and correctly, including the seat belt and other OEM safety inspections.

 

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