On Thursday, Sept. 27, Mike Anderson of Collision Advice presented the fifth webinar in his “Learn to Research, Research to Learn” series.
This webinar focused on “Using Volkswagen erWin.”
He was joined by VW’s Service Compliance Specialist Travis Taylor and Wholesale Parts Operations Manager Bill Garrett. Anderson also thanked Warren Barbee, who could not join the group for the webinar but “was helpful in his contributions.” The webinar was created by Collision Advice in collaboration with Volkswagen.
Anderson explained that he decided to host these webinars because his annual “Who Pays for What?” surveys, conducted in conjunction with the Crash Network, led him to determine that shops are not researching OEM repair procedures 100 percent of the time as they should be. As a result of this finding, Collision Advice will be hosting a monthly webinar with a different OEM each month to raise awareness of the resources each OEM offers to research repair procedures.
Anderson plans to guide attendees on a step-by-step tour of each specific OEM’s website, including logging in, areas of the website and how to improve search results. He will also demonstrate how to research some common procedures needed by collision repairers, explore the differences between an OEM scan tool and aftermarket scan tool and investigate OEM parts information and support tools.
The VW webinar included a review of the additional features offered on the VW erWin website, a discussion of VW’s requirements pertaining to scanning and an exploration of VW’s certification program.
VW’s repair procedures can be accessed through https://erwin.vw.com, which is a pay-to-use site. Under “About erWin,” the step-by-step page will walk users through the process of setting up an account, beginning with registration. Anderson noted that using older versions of Acrobat Reader can result in problems opening documents, and erWin currently supports only Internet Explorer as a browser.
He also emphasized, “Setting up an erWin account is free, but subscribing to the service information is where the charge is at.”
Once the account is set up, users can go to “my account” and view subscription options. A one-day subscription is available for $35, a one-month subscription costs $250, and a year-long subscription costs $1,500. USA-certified shops receive this service as part of their fees. When a user is logged into their account, they can see the length of time left in their subscription on the first page.
“This is great so you can make sure you don’t run out of your subscription,” Anderson noted.
As Anderson logged in, he observed, “One of the things that blew me away that Volkswagen does is they take safe and proper repairs very, very seriously. I don’t care if you’ve logged into erWin one time or a thousand times---the first thing you’re going to see when you log in is this little disclaimer of liability, which says ‘Use of technical information,’ and it has some warnings and some cautions that you need to be familiar with, and you will have to select OK no matter how many times you’ve logged in. So at the end of the day, Volkswagen takes safe and proper repairs very seriously.”
Anderson then looked at erWin’s search features for accessing repair procedures. He explained that you start by clicking on “Service Information” and then have three options: Guided Search allows you to find documents based on the model year, model and selected category and can be used without a VIN number; Manual Search, which is an option that Anderson discourages unless it’s the only option; and searching by VIN Number is what Anderson called “your most thorough, best search. It’s my favorite because it narrows the OEM repair procedures down to that specific VIN for me.”
Within the search, you can choose “Repair Manual” under Category 1, and then users would choose a specific area of repair under Category 2. Search results will then provide options for which manual may be accessed, and if the same manual is listed twice, it’s because there is so much content that it required a second manual, not because it’s duplicated. Users can view the PDF in their browser or download the document to their desktop to distribute in the shop, which is the option that Anderson recommends.
“Even if you download it to your desktop, it works just like you’re viewing it online,” he said.
As soon as you open any VW document, a warning generates stating, “Repairs may only be performed by trained personnel. Please always use the special tools as listed for all repairs.” Once you select OK, the document automatically jumps to the document’s Cautions & Warnings, which must be read and agreed to before users are able to access any other part of the document. One of these warnings indicates that a scan tool must be used any time the battery is disconnected, and another warning states, “Before doing any electrical welding on vehicles equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS), disconnect the battery negative terminal (ground strap) and the ABS control module connector.”
After reading through the Cautions & Warnings, the user must click the green OK button to confirm that they’ve read and understood these pages. Now, the document will return to the first page of that specific section of the manual. All of VW’s manuals contain their copyright mark, which is how repairers can ensure they are looking at VW’s legitimate procedures.
The table of contents contains hyperlinks to quickly take you to each section of the repair procedures. Anderson began by looking at Molded Foam Parts and noted that VW provides specific part numbers to use on certain areas of their vehicles because they’ve tested these products. The manual also warns that repairers should not weld within 15 mm of the molded foam part.
Looking at High-Strength/Highest Strength Hot Formed Body Panels, Anderson noted that this section identifies what metals are made out of by color code in the diagrams and emphasized that each vehicle must be checked every time. Anything above 980 cannot be repaired; it must be replaced, and VW will have very specific replacement guidelines on that component. Anderson also praised VW’s 3D drawings throughout their manuals.
Anderson continued exploring the body repair manual to look at requirements related to body gap dimensions and body panel dimensions. He noted that VW specifies what equipment must be used, referencing VW part numbers. While VW approves certain equipment manufacturers’ products, they do not put their names on erWin. However, this information can be found at vw.snapon.com.
Looking at the procedure for body structure damage, Anderson pointed out, “The vehicle must be placed on a VW-approved alignment system, and a vehicle alignment must be performed if there’s visible damage to the body structure or if the body dimensions are different than those stated in the repair manual. VW doesn’t hesitate to say ‘must.’”
VW’s erWin also contains a lot of symbols to guide technicians through the repair process, indicating what type of welds are needed, whether the area must be cleaned, if adhesive must be applied, if drilling is needed, and much more.
Warning that erWin uses different terminology than repairers may be accustomed to, Anderson stated, “Volkswagen does not call a frame rail, a frame rail. They call it a longitudinal member.”
He also noted that VW requires their adhesives be used when adhesive products are needed.
He emphasized, “It is critical to verify the expiration date before opening the adhesives.”
Anderson stressed that it’s important to check repair procedures on every vehicle every single time, no matter how often a technician works on a particular model.
“Things change,” he said. “If you were to go into a repair manual on a certain date, this wasn’t in there. You know what? It’s been revised, and it’s been revamped. This was an update, and that’s why you need to research repair procedures every single time and not just once in a while."
As Anderson began exploring the first body repair/body collision repair manual, he said, “People always say VW doesn’t have a position on scanning, and you’re right---they don’t. So people ask, ‘Why don’t they?’ [They don’t] because Volkswagen doesn’t want you to become dependent on position statements. They want you researching repair procedures on every single vehicle based on VIN numbers and the vehicle options that are on that vehicle. On this vehicle, under Procedure for Electronic Control Units after Accident Repairs, it indicates that one of the conditions for which installing an electronic control unit is necessary is when the functional check or the unit’s diagnosis procedure indicates the fault control unit defective. The only way you can do a functional check is with a scan tool! You must do a functional check. That right there; you don’t need a position statement because it’s in erWin’s procedures.”
In the second body repair/body collision repair manual, Anderson pointed out the requirement under Electronic Control Modules.
He stated, “This supports the need for scanning. Even though VW does not have a scanning position statement, it is still in their repair procedures!”
The VW webinar continued with Anderson demonstrating how to find information on common repair procedures on erWin, such as side panels, partial sections, seat belts, new parts, contact corrosion, belt tensioners, destructive test welds and plastic repair.
Moving to the paint manual, Anderson discussed VW’s instructions on fenders, doors, bumpers, and areas where paint is not permitted.
He noted, “Matching the OEM appearance and texture is a not-included operation, but the procedures provide very clear instructions on where seam sealer should be applied. The very specific quantity of material required can be used to educate insurers for reimbursement.”
Anderson looked at the VW’s instructions on Electrical Systems, including coding the radio, procedures that require scan tools and the need to protect electrical connectors during 100 percent disassembly.
“Performing the diagnostic procedure should not be included in our scan time, as it will vary based on the amount of DTCs and the DTC itself,” Anderson stated. “It is not just pre-scans that are required. After the repairs, the procedures often call for a post-repair check.”
Under My Account, subscribers can access the erWin newsletter to learn anything new going on with VW, and Anderson encouraged users to read the newsletter regularly. If a technician cannot locate what they are seeking on erWin after exhausting their search of the repair manuals, they can reach out to VW’s technical experts directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s also a support form on the website that can be utilized. Position statements are available at vwccrf.com. Anderson concluded the webinar by talking about VW’s Certified Collision Repair Facility program.
Anderson’s next webinar will be held on Oct. 18 and feature an exploration of Subaru’s website.