Tuesday, 11 January 2022 19:41

Toby Chess Shares Best Practice Documents for Collision Repairers

Written by Toby Chess
Among the many SOPs Toby Chess is writing for auto body shop use is one on how to handle used sheet metal, like the door seen here. Among the many SOPs Toby Chess is writing for auto body shop use is one on how to handle used sheet metal, like the door seen here.


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This is the first installment of Toby Chess's newsletter, in which he will share more than 100 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for auto body shops, tools, trends in repair and anything he thinks could help shops improve.

Chess suggests printing out each SOP and putting them in a book. He said Steve Morris had a great idea to print them out for each operation being performed on a repair and have the technician sign and date them, and place them into the customer's file.


These SOPs will standardize your repairs, increase efficiency and quality, reduce comebacks, improve estimate quality and add to the bottom line. Here are the first five in the series---click on each to download a PDF.


  1. Best Practices Before Accepting Used Painted Parts
  2. Best Practices for Applying Weld-on Aluminum Studs
  3. Best Practices for Preparing Aluminum for Repair and/or Welding Part 2
  4. Best Practices for Two-Sided Bumper Repair Using Adhesives
  5. Best Practices for Using 2K Epoxy Primer


Here is Toby Chess's newsletter:


On Oct. 15, Dana Caldwell wrote an article for Repairer Driven News about why people pick the collision repair shops they do. The results were an eye opener.


You would think insurance driven would be No. 1, but in fact it was last in the survey. Sixteen percent choose their auto body shop due to word of mouth.


As you know, I spend a lot of time in body shops for I-CAR welding tests and most of us are reactive instead of proactive. How many of you have a written SOP for checking in a vehicle? How many have a written SOP for keeping your customer informed? How many have a written SOP to do a 48- to 72-hour followup after the car has been picked up? How many have signed job descriptions for each position in your shop?


With some people choosing word of mouth, we need to do things better, and the easiest way to accomplish this is the use of written SOPs. I have more than 75 SOPs, and I will be adding 50 more over the next couple of months.


I have three example stories to drive my point home.


This was a used door from a well-known wrecking yard. The dent at the molding...

...reduced the price by $50. I put my PDR light on it and asked the owner “Do you think that is a one-hour dent?" His answer was, "Probably not, more like two hours." I used my light to circle all the dents---five more.


I asked him who is going to pay for the additional labor, prime and materials for the door. That door needed between five and six hours of repair. His tech made $50, he lost a couple hundred dollars of sales and he increased his cycle time because the tech was not working on the customer’s door but a used door instead.


I have an SOP on handling used sheet metal in the future, so this does not occur again.


Moving on, the next example I would the highlight is aluminum dent repair using a weld-on pulling pin.


I received a call from Erik Spitznagel, owner of Dent Fix Equipment. He sold an aluminum repair station to a shop in the Midwest. The body shop was trying to pull out a dent on a cab corner on a 2017 Ford F-150. The problem was the pins would not stick and they were “blowing” holes in the aluminum.


I called the shop owner and asked him what procedures he was using. He did not know, but got his tech on the line. The technician said he sanded the panel to bare aluminum using a 120 grit DA sander. When the pin did not stick, he increased the voltage and blew a hole in the panel. He did another one with the same results.


I told him the recommended steps. First and foremost, the aluminum needs to be cleaned with a stainless steel brush, to prevent galvanic corrosion. I explained the small brush works the best to remove aluminum oxide from the weld site. Next, the site needs to be cleaned with good wax and grease remover.


Step three is to apply one silicon stud and one magnesium stud, turn the power setting to 3 and see which one sticks the best. After destemming the proper stud, load a pin into the gun, pushing it down with end of the stainless steel brush. Grease on your finger will...

...contaminate the pin and it will not stick. I told the tech to make sure the pin was perpendicular to the metal.


I asked the manager if he would like a best practice sheet on the proper steps needed for aluminum stud installation and removal, and he said sure. He also said if there was a problem, he would call, which he never did. I have included this best practice as an attachment.

My third example deals with plastic repair using adhesives.


Recently, I received a call from a Kent Automotive sales representative. One of his shops called and told him the bumper repair they performed failed.


I made an appointment with the shop and I arrived a couple of days later. I asked the gentleman who repaired the bumper what steps and products he used. He gave an abbreviated version and I explained I needed the step by step process he used.


He said he removed the paint from the front side of the bumper with a 120 DA sander, but not the back side. He then cleaned the front and back side of the bumper with Prep-Sol.


I explained to him that using a solvent-based wax and grease remover is designed to remove adhesives. The solvent will wick into the raw plastic and when the adhesive is applied, the solvent wax and grease remover will not allow the adhesive to stick. I explained a water-based wax and grease remover needs to be used.


I also told him he needed to sand the backside with 80 grit DA to abrade the plastic so the adhesive would adhere to it. He showed me the product he used for the back side, which was the wrong material. He used another manufacturer’s product for the front, and that manufacturer requires an adhesion promoter before the application of the adhesive, which he did not use.


We went into the shop and I did a clinic on plastic repair. He brought me a water-based wax and grease remover from a different manufacturer. I explained to him...

...that is probably OK but he needs to use one manufacture’s system, and using or mixing other companies' products may interact and cause the repair to fail.


I have included this best practice as an attachment. If you want a bumper repair clinic on adhesives or nitrogen welding, I would be more than happy to come to your shop and conduct a clinic. There is not charge for this service. Just call 310-995-7909 or send me an email at tcspeedster@gmail.com.


In conclusion, if the three shops had SOPs in place and they were followed, these failures would not have happened.


My next column will deal with creating your own SOPs.


One final request: please let know what are your thoughts on this or if you have ideas that you want to share.


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