Tuesday, 14 November 2017 22:34

CIC: New Vehicle Technologies Bringing Fresh Challenges for Collision Repairers

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Virginia shop owner Barry Dorn said automaker systems that time stamp diagnostic trouble codes make it easier to determine which are related to a claim or repair process. Virginia shop owner Barry Dorn said automaker systems that time stamp diagnostic trouble codes make it easier to determine which are related to a claim or repair process.


New challenges posed for collision repairers by increasingly complex vehicle technology were discussed during several presentations at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) held in Las Vegas during SEMA week.

The “Insurer-Repairer Relations Committee,” for example, focused on the fallacy of basing the need for post-repair vehicle scanning on whether dashboard alert lights are lit.

 “I would challenge you, whether you are a repair facility [relying on] the dash light, or if you are an insurer that is still saying, ‘I’m not going to perform a post-scan because the light isn’t on.” There are very valid reasons why that light might not be on,” committee chairman Clint Marlow, an Allstate executive, said.

Automakers at previous CIC meetings had outlined that not all of the hundreds of potential diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) that many vehicles track are even tied to a specific dash light. But Marlow said dash lights also might not be triggered by temporary disruptions to a system’s functionality, such as the spray from a passing truck momentarily disabling the lane-departure sensors and system. Having dash lights not continually coming on and off can help build consumer confidence in the systems, he said.


But members of the committee in Las Vegas also noted that many DTCs found in a post-repair inspection may not be related to the claim or repair process. Matthew McDonnell, CEO of three Big Sky Collision shops in Montana, said he sees opportunity for shops and insurers to work together when such codes are found in a pre-repair scan.

That’s an opportunity for you [as a shop] to bring that information to [the insurer] and say, ‘How would you like me to proceed with this,’” McDonnell said. “Because each case is going to be different, [so don’t] put the customer in the middle in the beginning. Maybe it’s an opportunity to win a customer over because together we’re going to go ahead and [handle the issue] anyway. We leave that in [the insurers’] ball court. That builds trust.”

Virginia shop owner Barry Dorn said some vehicles have date and time stamps that help clarify which are claim-related and which are not.


 “That takes my opinion and your opinion and everyone’s opinion out. It is what it is,” Dorn said.

Discussion throughout the meeting also emphasized the importance of vehicle scanning. McDonnell said a recent pre-repair scan during the blueprinting process in one of his shops included a recommendation to check a rear camera on the vehicle; upon close inspection, he said, it was determined the camera was damaged.

 “When would be the best time to find that out? After the car was delivered? Or during that disassembly?” McDonnell said, noting that finding it any later in the process could have impacted cycle time and customer satisfaction.

But scanning has to be done hand-in-hand with checking the automaker repair procedures, Jake Rodenroth of asTech said during another CIC committee presentation. He said he learned through OEM procedures that replacing the muffler on a BMW X5, for example, requires hooking up the vehicle to a scan tool. Similarly, Audi’s OEM procedures spell out that there are two windshield options for the 2016 A6, and the VIN alone will not indicate which is needed.

 “It requires a visual inspection to determine which camera kit it has,” Rodenroth said. “So how would you know that if you don’t research the OEM procedures? In reality, you’d probably only find out at the end that you put the wrong windshield in the car. This is just one example of how the business is changing and that we cannot assume things.”


Marlow said another area of agreement among the “Insurer-Repairer Relations Committee” has been the need for “a mechanism for the industry---both insurers and repairers---to bubble up questions [to the automakers] about repair procedures, or to recommend changes to repair procedures as technologies evolve.” 

He said I-CAR is increasingly serving in that role.


 “Vehicle makers will take our feedback,” Jason Bartanen, director of industry technical relations for I-CAR, said at the CIC meeting. “We’ve had several instances where we’ve escalated issues to a vehicle manufacturer, laid out some ideas for improved repairability, and that’s been very well received.”

He cited an example of a Honda CR-V for which Honda originally serviced the inner quarter panel only as a complete assembly.

 “That created a very intrusive repair, having to replace that inner quarter panel and inner wheel house even when there’s just damage to the wheel house area,” Bartanen said. “We had that exact type of damage on a vehicle: the lower part of the wheelhouse. We purchased the part, and noticed a nice factory joint. We documented our repair process…and escalated that to Honda and got approval for that procedure. That’s just one example of how the vehicle manufacturers are listening and will take the feedback that the industry has and will try to make improvements, when possible.”

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