The Best Body Shops' Tips: Following OEM Procedures Will Help Avoid Surprises, Injuries, Delays

map of hands-free driving highways
The 2018 Cadillac CT6 includes a Super Cruise capability, which allows for hands-free driving on “approved” highways shown in picture. Image taken from the Guild 21 presentation in March.

Now more than ever, it is crucial to follow OEM procedures and focus on the operations of every vehicle during the repair process so there are no surprises, according to Jake Rodenroth, director of industry relations for asTech.

“If certain procedures aren’t followed, you could either injure the person working on the vehicle or cause additional damage, which can lead to bill payer friction and delays,” Rodenroth said during a Guild 21 podcast in March, sponsored by Verifacts Automotive.

During the podcast, Rodenroth, along with Doug Kelly, CEO of Repairify, and Bram Paris, director of calibration at asTech, shared information about some of the new vehicles and technology being introduced to the market. Kelly and Rodenroth spoke about pre- and post-scanning and recalibration during a prior Guild 21 podcast in January.

“There are things that I think as repairers, we’re missing the boat on---fundamental skills that we’ve overlooked throughout the years,” said Rodenroth. “This is not going to get any easier. It’s going to get more complex.”

He mentioned common repair procedures such as battery disconnects, changing a headlight and taking off a mirror.

“These are all steps that we do every day, but what we fail to realize is that in the last couple of years, those steps have changed,” he explained.

“Scanning is the precursor to something much bigger and more complex on the calibration front,” said Kelly. “Cars produced today need this activity done and many people don’t understand it.”

Paris highlighted Mazda’s Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system to demonstrate the importance of doing the necessary research to ensure a proper repair.

“Even though the system is described the same way and, from a vehicle owner’s perspective, behaves the same way, actually Mazda has three different variations of the same BSM system,” he said. “However, it wouldn’t be obvious to anyone looking at the vehicle.”

All three versions are part of Mazda’s I-Activsense package and use the same icons and indicators; however, the vehicle detection pattern is different between version one and versions two and three.

Although the three systems don’t outwardly look any different to consumers, Paris said they work differently, react to the environment differently and are calibrated differently.

BSM Version 1, mainly on Mazda’s models prior to 2016, uses radar-based detection. The sensing area on these early builds is small, approximately 23 feet, which Paris said isn’t a lot of space to pick out a car in a blind spot.

“Because BSM is subjective to a person’s blind spot, 23 feet may or may not detect a vehicle in that person’s blind spot,” he said.

A vehicle with Version 1 cannot detect a car coming into the blind spot or leaving, and only senses a vehicle in its detection area. It is unable to detect speed or distance. One of the most important differences between this version and Version 2 is that a reflector is required to calibrate the system.

BSM Version 2 is only applicable to 2016--2018 Mazda XC-3 and MX-5 vehicles and uses Doppler radar. Another difference between Versions 1 and 2 is that the detection area is significantly larger---about 164 feet.

“The system is much more intelligent,” he said. “It can actually detect a vehicle entering and exiting that zone.”

This version can monitor the speed of the Mazda and detect the speed and distance of a vehicle entering the blind spot. Rather than using a reflector, Version 2 requires a Doppler simulator for a radar test to determine if the sensors are mounted correctly and working as designed. This device is specific to these types of vehicles.

BSM Version 3, used on 2016 CX-9 Mazdas and future models, is very similar to Version 2 in the way it functions. It has the same detection area and technical benefits and uses Doppler radar. The difference is the way in which it calibrates. Version 3 uses the same reflector as Version 1.

Paris said that with all three versions, there are detailed procedures required to set the reflector or Doppler simulator in a very specific place to test the vehicle and know it is within OEM specifications and calibrated correctly.

“It’s very important that the OEM procedures get followed and OEM equipment is used to do that,” he added.

Rodenroth then shared examples of three new vehicles with complex technology: the 2018 Cadillac CT6, the 2018 Audi 8 and the 2018 Buick Regal.

2018 Cadillac CT6

With multiple substrates on this vehicle, Rodenroth said joining methods need to be followed correctly, or else a repairer will fail to have electrical continuity throughout the car. A fully loaded CT6 is equipped with a Bose Panaray sound system, which includes 34 speakers in the vehicle.

“I think about collision repairers and the amount of interior trim that we take out for protection and welding operations,” said Rodenroth. “Did we plug them all in? These are things that can easily be missed that will cause heartburn when we deliver that vehicle.”

The CT6 also includes a Super Cruise capability, which allows for hands-free driving on "approved" highways.

“It’s a very intelligent system and uses a concert of sensors in the car to make sure the system is working properly,” he added.

2018 Audi 8

Considered a mild-hybrid vehicle, the 2018 Audi 8 has a 48-volt electrical system onboard. Historically, it has been an aluminum vehicle since 1992, but a hybrid construction is expected in 2019, which Rodenroth said will change how the vehicle is repaired. The Audi A8 uses a nine-and-a-half horsepower electrical supercharger, which he said is the first engine of its kind in a production vehicle.

“This is where those fundamental skills that we have to research play such a big role,” he said. “Things like battery disconnect and making sure our employees aren’t electrocuted when they are servicing a vehicle like this.”

2018 Buick Regal

The Buick Regal uses a “rope” impact sensor, which is embedded inside of the absorber ahead of the rebar behind the bumper cover.

“When you look at it, you need to treat these systems very much like a live airbag system,” said Rodenroth.

The vehicle requires a very specific enable-and-disable procedure similar to airbags. The front bumper cover on the Buick Regal is not repairable. If damage is found, the bumper fascia or sensor system will need to be replaced. In addition, the hood, hinges and two actuators will need to be replaced if there is a deployment.

“Think about a technician who happens to be leaning on a bumper cover and the system is not disabled,” said Rodenroth. “There could be a deployment and cause damage to the car.”

Although very few people will have the opportunity to work on some of the more complex vehicles being introduced, Rodenroth said it gives repairers some insight about what they can most likely expect to be included in the mainstream cars of the future.

“All of this technology is coming out like a fire hose and affects us in the repair center when we are trying to repair-plan around all of this,” he said. “This will change the entire repair cycle, claims process and even the customers shops interface with on a daily basis,” he said.

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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