John Yoswick

John YoswickJohn Yoswick is a freelance automotive writer based in Portland, Oregon, who has been writing about the collision industry since 1988. He is the editor of the weekly CRASH Network (for a free 4-week trial subscription, visit www.CrashNetwork.com).

He can be contacted at john@crashnetwork.com 

Tuesday, 11 August 2020 20:53

Shops Report Measurement Issues With Some Steering Columns

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GM’s John Eck said the automaker is reviewing the safety inspections it currently requires after any collision. GM’s John Eck said the automaker is reviewing the safety inspections it currently requires after any collision.


Safety inspections required by automakers as part of post-collision repairs sometimes include measurement of the steering column to ensure it was not damaged in an accident.

Speaking at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC), held virtually in late July, Jason Bartanen of CIC’s Emerging Technologies Committee said such requirements have led more shops to measure steering columns---and, in some cases, to find discrepancies in the OEM information.


Bartanen said General Motors, for example, has a requirement to inspect the steering column for “bending, twisting, buckling or any type of damage” after any collision.


In one instance, Bartanen said, a shop found the steering column in a GMC Sierrra appeared to have collapsed slightly because it measured 273 mm, not the 286 mm called for in the GM collision repair information. But the new replacement column the shop received measured 278 mm, also short of the measurement in the automaker’s documentation.


Another shop, he said, similarly found a steering column in a Nissan Versa was shorter than indicated in that automaker’s collision repair information---only to then find that it was the same length as several replacement columns the shop ordered.


So what should a shop do in such instances?


“That’s the question we’re trying to get some clarification for from the vehicle manufacturers,” Bartanen said, saying in the case of the GM column, the shop installed the replacement part given the column in the car was even 5 mm shorter than the replacement part. “The people I’ve talked to are, for the most part, putting the old column back in if it’s measuring the same as the replacement column.”


Bartanen said the discrepancy could be based on data from OEM engineering drawings not matching the actual part once it went into production. In some cases, it could be shops are not measuring the columns correctly; he said Subaru is one automaker that provides better illustrations than some other automakers as to what distances on the columns are to be measured.


But any incorrect measurements in the OEM information, he said, may be impacting cycle time and repair costs, damaging credibility with consumers, fostering tensions between shops and insurers and placing undue burden on the parts supply chain.

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