Tuesday, 02 April 2019 15:27

Truck Topics: Truck Vs. Auto Collision Repair – An Overview

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“From my perspective, there are a lot of heavy duty shops out there that are only existing. Their repair methods, equipment and mind-set are stuck in an industry that existed years ago. They are not keeping up with technology and not moving forward.” (Hmmm… this has a familiar ring to it.)


One of the major differences between the heavy duty collision repair world and the auto collision repair world is who pays the bill. On the auto side, easily 90 percent of collision repairs are covered by an insurance company. Conversely, most fleets are self-insured, so the company foots the bill for repairs. Any shop working exclusively on the auto side would find this arrangement ideal because there would be no more fighting with an insurance company over what they would or would not cover.


Sterwerf explained the issues encountered with fleet-paid repairs.


“Bigger fleets don’t mind paying to have the truck fixed correctly and safely. They know that skimping out on a repair now may mean a catastrophic failure later; which means more down time and possibly injury to a driver or other parties. Rather than try to fix something, it’s quicker and safer to replace the entire component---so that’s what we do. Then there is no question about [the repair being] right or not. Conversely, some managers of small fleets, operating on a small budget, want to do only what is absolutely necessary to put the truck back in service--- despite the repair not being complete or even safe. I just tell those guys to keep going. I know the shop is still liable for those repairs regardless of what they say or want---and I don’t need the headaches.”


When asked for an overall assessment of the industry, Sterwerf noted that as part of the Heavy Duty Collision Repair Task Force, he has met a lot of shop owners, many of which are considered to be some of the best in the industry.


“But even among the best, there is a wide variation of skills, knowledge, experience and equipment,” he said. “We need to get more people involved and more people to take an active role in this industry to make it better and bring us all to the next level.”