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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 

Wednesday, 03 March 2021 18:37

Shops Stuck in the Middle in Battle Over OEM Vehicle Safety Inspections

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An Illinois shop conducting safety inspections called for by the automaker found a broken dash carrier in a vehicle involved in a low-speed collision. An Illinois shop conducting safety inspections called for by the automaker found a broken dash carrier in a vehicle involved in a low-speed collision.

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...a Silverado he repaired, and when they removed the dash as part of the required safety inspections, sure enough, they found that the dash carrier was broken.”

 

That shop owner, Tim Paap of Paap Auto Body in Mattoon, IL, said that damage occurred even in a relatively low-speed---20 mph---accident in which the occupants were wearing seat belts.

 

“My only conclusion was their lower extremities were propelled forward into the lower dash, which absorbed the impact,” Paap said. “We have found several steering columns collapsed in what would seem like low-speed collisions. This is the reason the required inspections need to be done.”

 

2018 Chevrolet Silverado web

The broken dash carrier was discovered in a 2018 Silverado with only moderate damage.

 

Anderson said another shop he works with has measured 43 steering columns in one automaker’s vehicles, as called for in its procedures following collisions. Of those, 11 had collapsed.

 

“That’s a 26% rate,” Anderson said.

 

The friction arises because such inspections can potentially require a dozen or more labor hours. Shops doing the procedures can experience push-back from insurers. But there’s also some shops pushing back because the added labor can lead to vehicles being declared total losses.

 

“I recently got some shops really angry with me at some virtual meetings when I polled them why they weren’t doing the procedures,” Anderson said. “I asked them if it was because they were unaware of the need to do these procedures, if they thought they were smarter than the engineers and don’t think it was necessary, or if they’re just afraid it will create an issue with an insurance company. It was about one-third each.”

 

Anderson said he’s not going to argue about whether the inspections are necessary or not.

 

“But I’m certainly not going to second-guess the OEM engineers who say they are,” he said. “Every time we fix a car, we’re playing Russian roulette. If we don’t do these things, is it going to come back to haunt us? We’re playing the odds.

 

"At the end of the day, if you don’t do it, and somebody gets hurt, you’re liable. You can’t say, ‘The insurer wouldn’t pay me.’ An insurance company refusing to pay you to do it does not remove you from the liability.”

 

That said, Anderson also thinks insurance companies need to recognize...