More Customers Bringing in Vehicles for Post Repair Inspections

More Customers Bringing in Vehicles for Post Repair Inspections

Last November, a 2011 Toyota Camry was brought into Coach Works Auto Body for a post-repair inspection.

Matt Radman, the manager of the Mesa, AZ, facility, said it was the worst repair job he had seen out of all the vehicles in the shop brought in for similar reasons. According to reports, the Camry had been taken to another direct repair facility several times, but wasn’t repaired properly.

As a small shop that completes approximately 100-150 vehicles a year, Matt said Coach Works is finding an increase in the number of customers bringing in their vehicles for post-repair inspections. He estimates out of the 18 that he has worked on over the last year, over half of them had serious issues. “We have been finding this problem has really been coming to light the last few years,” said Matt.

“What’s really scary is that there are shops that do 10 times more repairs than we do and unfortunately we are finding these really grossly substandard repairs from a lot of different people,” said Matt. “There are techs---and sometimes shops don’t even know it---who are taking shortcuts that could ultimately kill people.”

He said that Coach Works has often been falsely accused of doing things to a vehicle brought in for a post repair inspection to portray the shop that initially repaired the vehicle in a negative way. This is why Coach Works began filming videos of the tear down process for vehicles needing a post repair inspection, including one of the 2011 Camry.

Working with Collision Safety Consultants, Matt said they noticed right away during the post repair inspection of the Camry that there was misalignment in the gaps for the right front fender and an aftermarket part was used. After removing the weather stripping and the kick panel on the vehicle, he said the biggest thing that stood out was that there were still drill holes in the inside of the vehicle. “Whoever fixed the vehicle beforehand, they drilled it from the outside going in and they didn’t fully plug weld the rocker panel from the inside and out,” he said. “There was exposed metal.”

Billy Walkowiak, the founder of North Carolina-based Collision Safety Consultants helped confirm what had been found. Walkowiak provided Coach Works with the proper repair procedures from Toyota using information from ALLDATA.

“That’s how we determined that the vehicle was improperly fixed,” he said. “If body shops would access OEM procedures, and use them, they could make sure they are doing a proper and safe repair,” said Walkowiak. “I would say that 75 percent of the vehicles that I inspect are structurally improperly repaired.”

Matt said Coach Works takes pride in repairing vehicles to pre-accident condition utilizing OEM parts and procedures. He said he approaches every job like he is repairing a vehicle for a family member. “Nothing is going to leave that I wouldn’t put my own mother or daughter in,” he said.

Specializing in collision repair, classic restoration and custom fabrication, Coach Works Auto Body was established in 1986. The independently-owned family business is currently run by Matt’s mother, Marina Radman. His sister Nicole works in the business as well as his brother Nick.

During the inspections, the technicians at Coach Works first look under the vehicle at the pinch weld seam at the bottom of the rockers. When there is structural damage, Matt said the shops will clamp the pinch welds on the unibody or chassis frame, which will leave marks from where the clamps cracked, pinched or caused damage to the surface.

Next, they look at the outside body panel and determine if OEM or aftermarket parts were used and how they line up. Finally, they evaluate the weather strip molding.

Matt said that in 2004, another Camry was repaired the same way as the one recently brought into the shop. Two years later, the vehicle was T-boned on the same side it was fixed and decapitated.

His hope is that some type of regulatory committee is instituted for the collision repair industry that can take action against individual shops that constantly repair vehicles improperly. Matt has found that it’s a big industry problem. “It’s harder to get a license and be registered to be a barber,” he said. “A technician doesn’t have to be licensed to repair a vehicle.”

Matt said there are many shops like his that attend continuous education through the year and have OE certifications. However, he said, “If you don’t follow what the manufacturer says, you are not only putting yourself and your company at risk, but the lives of the people who are driving the vehicles.”

Stacey Phillips Ronak

Stacey Phillips Ronak is an award-winning writer for the automotive industry and a regular columnist for Autobody News based in Southern California.

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