Collision Industry Conference (CIC) committees in Las Vegas in November tackled topics ranging from better welding practices to OEM procedures and new ways of documenting increasingly detailed vehicle test drives.
Toby Chess, an industry trainer who leads CIC’s “Technical Presentations” committee and who has conducted more than 6,000 I-CAR welding tests over 15 years, said at least five automakers – Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Audi/VW/Porsche – have OEM procedures with detailed instructions for performing destructive testing on plug welds and spot welds prior to welding on a vehicle.
Ford’s procedure, for example, is three pages long, with specifications for the size and shape the weld nugget should be based on the thickness of the metal being welded. Some automakers call for spot welding with the E-coat in place, Chess said, while others say it has to be stripped off.
Also during the committee’s presentation in Las Vegas, Kye Yeung, owner of a Southern California shop, certified and specializing in high-end vehicles, said weld testing can be done using coupons, but that it’s important that the tests be done on comparable materials to what will be welded; he suggests using some of the damaged material removed from the vehicle or, if sectioning, using some of the excess material from the new part being installed.
Yeung said electrical output can vary throughout the shop, so he suggests moving the vehicle – and doing the destructive test welds – in the area of the shop where you know there’s adequate power. He also said it’s a good idea for shops to have standardized operating procedures related to welding.
“At our shop, we take the wire out of the welder after the repair,” he said. “So when a tech pulls up the procedure, he has to start from square one and not make the assumption that the welding wire that's in the machine is for that job. It's a process you should instill in your shop, even though it might take a little extra time. They could be getting a poor weld because they're using the wrong material.”
Yeung said his shop also holds “weld-off competitions,” with the winner receiving a free lunch.