From the Desk of Mike Anderson: Destructive Weld Testing a Crucial Step You Should Be Paid to Perform

From the Desk of Mike Anderson: Destructive Weld Testing a Crucial Step You Should Be Paid to Perform
Mike Anderson says shops failing to follow OEM procedures for destructive weld testing would be like an automaker failing to crash-test a new model of vehicle.

One of the few discouraging statistics for me from the “Who Pays for What?” surveys we’ve been conducting since 2015 involves destructive testing of welds.

Last year, more than 40% of collision repair shops acknowledged they had never sought to be paid for the labor to create test welds and perform destructive testing on them prior to welding on a vehicle to ensure the welder was set-up properly.

Let me be clear: I’m less concerned with whether shops are being paid for this work, though I believe they should be, and I hope this article will help you negotiate to get paid for it.

What I’m really discouraged and concerned about is that I believe many technicians and shops are skipping this absolutely essential step in the repair process.

Ladies and gentlemen, unless you perform destructive testing of welds prior to any welding on a vehicle, you cannot know whether the welds you are doing on the vehicle are proper and will perform as necessary. It would be like an automaker not doing vehicle crash testing before selling a new model of vehicle.

It’s a serious liability for your business. If you don’t do this---every time---you run the risk of someone who is in another accident in a vehicle you repaired being seriously injured or even killed because of a faulty weld.

I cannot emphasize this enough: We have a moral and ethical responsibility to make sure our technicians are doing this. It’s not about whether you get paid for it. It’s the right thing to do. If we don’t do it, somebody could get hurt.

A real-world example of the importance of destructive weld testing came up during an online meeting. At Collision Advice, we facilitate 20 Groups called The Spartans, which includes virtual estimating training sessions once a month.

During one of these recent discussions, member Dean Massimini of Autotech Collision Service---one of the most committed shops that I know of in terms of following OEM repair procedures---shared with our members that they make sure their technicians are performing and documenting weld testing every time it is needed. He told us they recently were performing a destructive test weld that failed.

“We had a malfunction on our welder that we would not have found if we weren’t doing destructive tests,” Massimini said.

This is what every shop should be doing.

Another recent cautionary example: I was onsite at another shop in South Carolina, and one of the technicians told me how they had been having issues with a welder, and another industry consultant told them to use a different wire. Fortunately, I knew someone at the manufacturer of the vehicle involved. His first question: Has the shop had the software update done on their welder? Sure enough, the welder had not had the most recent update.

My friends, performing destructive test welds is not a once-in-a-while labor operation. It must be done on every single vehicle.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with some OEMs considering providing weld coupons with replacement panels. That would be huge. But again, shops must know how to perform this destructive test, and the OEM procedures spell it out for us. I only know of two OEMs that don’t have this in their procedures, and they defer to I-CAR, which provides information on how to perform this test.

Roughly 30% of shops across the industry tell us in our “Who Pays” surveys that they are being paid all or most of the time for destructive weld testing when it is necessary and they are doing it.

In my next column, I’ll discuss how you, once you ensure your technicians are doing this important step, can join those getting paid for it.

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson is a columnist for Autobody News and president of Collision Advice, a consulting company for the auto body/collision repair industry.

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