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Wednesday, 23 November 2011 17:13

How Lucky Do You Feel?—Durability of Back-Taped Edges

Written by Stefan Gesterkamp

One of my customers asked me to provide feedback on an issue that I feel most collision repairers and insurance professionals would be interested in.

There was a three way discussion between two shops and an insurer concerning back taping along body lines on a vehicle’s roof. The question I received was concerning durability of the back-taped edge and/or should the shop clear up and over to the other side? Everybody reading this likely agrees that the technique of back taping a roof is common place and practiced industry wide. Most will likely not think twice about doing it.

To set the stage, I also assume that most people in the industry today have accepted that open solvent blends along the sail panel are not an acceptable repair and should not be performed. And those roofs without a well contoured edge to tape along should be cleared up and over.

So what about the rest? My answer to this comes in the form of another question. How lucky do you feel? The reason for my question is that this technique is a calculated risk assessment.

If the surface is cleaned and prepped expertly and no shortcuts are taken, back taping will result in a long lasting repair. The questions that are impossible to answer are how long a long time is and will this edge hold up longer then the vehicle is owned by your client or remains in active service? Given just enough time, the edge ultimately will deteriorate and break down.

High, long-term exposure to ultra violet rays, wear and tear, chemical exposure, as well as too much, or too little maintenance, all contribute to the unknown time before it will happen. Doing this type of repair is a judgment call that needs to be openly discussed between collision repairer and insurance provider.

I don’t have the latest numbers on how long the average American driver holds on to their vehicle before it is traded in for a replacement in the present economy, but I believe the odds are very much in the repairers and insurance favor. Although the odds may be favorable, the question that comes to my mind is concerning warranty.

From a fiscal standpoint this type of repair approach makes perfect sense, but from a manufacturer’s prospective, this repair doesn’t qualify for lifetime warranty coverage, as it is still technically considered an open blend.

I don’t claim to have a good answer to this debate. From a purely quality driven point of view, I have to side with the up and over crowd. From a practical, fiscal point of view, the tapers also make a strong case for themselves.

Are you taking a risk when you back tape along a roof line? Yes, but compared to elective risks some collision repair shops willingly take, like mixing and matching different brand’s paint products into a single paint repair for example, taping the edge will let me sleep well tonight. It all comes down to how you feel about this issue and let your best judgment guide you.

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