The Best Body Shops' Tips: Robaina Direct Addresses Considerations for 'Small and Medium Damage Repairs'

Bryan Robaina
Bryan Robaina

During a recent Guild 21 podcast sponsored by VeriFacts, Bryan Robaina asked attendees if it’s best to replace parts with new ones during a repair to maintain the vehicle’s OEM / Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status.

Half of those listening to the presentation replied “yes”; the remainder answered “no” or were unsure.

Robaina, founder of Eco Repair Systems of North America, the first company approved by BMW for its panel repair tools and equipment, and Robaina Direct LLC, said that in an ideal (repairable) situation, it may be advantageous to repair parts rather than replace them. Doing so can also help reduce severity when conditions permit. In fact, he said, many vehicle manufacturer programs will confirm that the best thing to do to maintain CPO status is to not replace a part.

“Every OEM has its own constraints about what allows repairers to go the route of replacement and some with regards to repair,” said Robaina. “This is something that you need to confirm with the OEM documentation work instructions and then make a judgment call.”

When looking at repairs in general, according to Robaina, the main question is: “Does the part need to be replaced or repaired?” In most cases, Robaina said it is not recommended that technicians replace a structural panel that is rivet bonded or welded to the vehicle if the damage by OEM standard does not require replacement.

Robaina’s presentation on small/medium dent repairs on outer sheet metal and aluminum panels was part of Guild 21’s three-part series on repair versus replace. The earlier segments included Kurt Lammon, president of Polyvance, and Scott McKernan, president of #1 Vinyl & Leather Repair, discussing plastic repair and interior parts, and Ryan Hampton, Bill Park and Tony Frasher, owners of The 300 Advantage, sharing opportunities for Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) in collision repair.

Robaina Direct specializes in creating, supplying and co-developing solutions for small- and medium-damage repairs for OEM collision repair programs and MSOs. The company’s mission is to drive down the severity of repairs based on OEM-approved and well-balanced DRP-approved repair processes that result in better cycle times, more touch time hours and better gross profit (GP).

In his presentation, Robaina spoke about important considerations when deciding whether to repair or replace on larger repairs. This included paying close attention to OEM repair requirements.

“In this OEM DRP world, everyone has a long list of requests that you have to do to be on one program or another,” he said. “We need to make sure that in every single repair that is done that there is some reference to documentation.”

If necessary, he recommended contacting the OEM to confirm the information.

Other important considerations he mentioned included being familiar with insurance DRP program guidelines, looking at how the decision will affect cycle time, overall profitability and what is best for the vehicle.

“A lot of that relates to CPO status and what translates to resell value,” said Robaina.

Robaina reminded listeners to consider disclosures, diminished value and the fact that Carfax reports certain things about a vehicle, especially with intrusive repairs.

When making a decision about whether to repair or replace the part, Robaina recommended that technicians first look over the vehicle carefully. In many cases, the only way to determine if the damage is repairable is through a physical inspection.

“Today, we’re steering away a lot of technicians from ‘checking’ with their hands to determine if the repair is good enough based on touch,” he said. “Instead, we want them to look at a panel and use their eyesight with contrast lighting as their primary sense to accomplish this. After all, when a customer picks up a vehicle, they see the repair, not feel for correctness.”

After assessing the damage, he advised listeners to read through the vehicle manufacturer’s work instructions. He said it’s critical to take into account the value of the part, its availability and the amount of time it will take to do the repair, as well as what may be hidden behind the skin of the exterior body panel.

“The last thing you want to do is start de-trimming a vehicle that you’re not entirely familiar with,” he said. “You don’t want to be married to a job that you just started and then find out it’s getting complicated (beyond your level of knowledge or ability to access OEM information).”

After a decision has been made to go down the route of repair, Robaina said there are specific tools that can be used. He walked podcast attendees through the steps of PDR when repairing steel parts. Some of the tooling he mentioned included’s PDR rods, very precise tooling that requires backside access, as well as small and large glue tabs. When a technician is undecided about whether to repair or replace during a certain job, Robaina said attempting to repair with the company’s proprietary glue pull system can be very telling of whether or not the repair is possible. He also talked about the fine point welding electrode squeeze type lifter, which is attached to’s dent repair system, and the steel key welding / pulling system.

After discussing repairs related to steel, Robaina addressed aluminum repair opportunities. He asked attendees if it is faster to repair dents on aluminum because there’s less “spring back” in the material. Less than 10 percent answered yes and more than 60 percent said no; the remainder were unsure.

“It’s not faster to repair dents on aluminum in general because it doesn’t have that spring back,” explained Robaina. “The spring back and memory that we are used to finding in steel makes steel repair faster and easier.”

Using an example of a quarter panel, Robaina said the process of aluminum panel repair requires a technician to weld's aluminum studs, which requires a different process than steel and usually takes additional time. Although some of the tooling is the same as with steel, a separate aluminum stud welding / pull system may be required as well as an aluminum clean room to avoid contamination per OEM requirements.

Robaina also addressed how a vehicle’s corrosion protection is best maintained during a repair.

“Whenever you remove a factory part, you are disturbing that factory seam,” explained Robaina. “It’s very difficult to replicate it in its entirety because of the inability to access backside points where the panels are joined. By repairing a panel, for example, you are not disturbing the factory seams; therefore, the original corrosion protection will be maintained.”

He then asked attendees what method of collision repair they believe provides the fastest cycle time opportunity overall; nearly 70 percent responded that doing the repair is by far the fastest. Robaina concurred and said that in most cases, repairing a part is the fastest cycle time opportunity.

“We all know that it’s much easier to get an authorization from an insurance carrier for repair rather than it is for replace,” said Robaina.

If a shop takes into account the additional effort required to obtain approval to order a part and receive it, especially if it’s on back order, the decision to repair (while meeting OEM requirements to do so) can increase a shop’s gross profit. This is primarily due to the fewer number of days a vehicle sits on the premises waiting for a new part to arrive. By doing the repair, Robaina said it not only improves cycle time, but CPO status is maintained according to the manufacturer’s program. There is also a lower length of rental time and CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) is improved.

For more information about Robaina Direct, visit, contact Bryan Robaina at or call 949-945-2163. For training information, email

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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