The Best Body Shops' Tips: Pre- and Post-Scanning, Recalibration---What Shops Can Expect
Written by Stacey Phillips, Autobody News
Published January 19, 2018
As new vehicles are introduced to the market, often equipped with complex technology, the collision industry is challenged with keeping up-to-date with repair procedures.
As a result, Jake Rodenroth, director of industry relations for asTech, said that staying current as much as possible is crucial to the success of a collision repairer’s business.
“Collision repairers are facing brand new models, sometimes on the first tank of gas,” he said. “I think every shop needs to have some path to resolution. We’re the first line of defense.”
Rodenroth and Doug Kelly, CEO of Repairify, spoke about the importance of pre- and post-scanning and recalibration during a Guild 21 podcast sponsored by Verifacts Automotive in January. Repairify is the company that created the asTech device.
Many body shops across the country wonder what new technologies their employees should be aware of and how to work them into their daily workflow.
“There is a lot of buzz out there right now about emerging technologies---not just on the electronic side, but on the metal and substrate side,” he said. “From a process perspective, it starts with identification. As repairers, we can’t get on the same page with identification until we have product knowledge and stay up-to-date with modern vehicles.”
Rodenroth said that identification can include ADAS and frequency-reducing technology, which can be hidden behind windshields, glass, mirrors and grills; structural identification maps of the different substrates on a vehicle; hybrid and EV powertrains; and special tool requirements.
Throughout the Guild 21 call, attendees were asked to give feedback. When asked how many of their customers know what equipment options are on their vehicles, 87 percent answered “no.”
“I think you will see a shift in those responses in the coming years as more millennials enter the workplace and start buying cars,” said Rodenroth. “They are not intimidated by technology. In fact, they embrace it.”
As a result, they are known to buy vehicles that contain an abundance of technology and spend time understanding how every feature operates.
Those who participated in the call were also asked how their staff stays up-to-speed on current model vehicles. The majority (75 percent) said they did so through secondary sources such as the Internet, OEM sites and dealers. Only 15 percent answered they did so by looking up build data, and the remainder said they use another method.
During the presentation, Kelly stressed the importance of obtaining authorization from customers to perform work diagnostics, road tests and potentially conduct off-site calibrations.
“It’s important that consumers understand what information is being pulled and how it might be shared,” said Kelly. “When doing diagnostics, whether it’s with a third-party or your own diagnostic tool, you’re not pulling crash data. You’re pulling all of the stored trouble codes.”
This includes the possibility of revealing things that are wrong with the vehicle unrelated to the accident.
Many consumers are concerned about the information shared with their insurance company.
“Consumers don’t intentionally misrepresent loss, but they are not always aware of when certain systems go offline or how,” said Kelly. “It’s good housekeeping to let consumers know what you are doing, explain the process to them and get their permission.”
A sample authorization form is available on the SCRS website, www.scrs.com, and asTech website at: https://astech.com/resources. A document is also available for repairers to hand out to customers to educate them about some of the systems available on today’s vehicles. This not only reminds them how complex vehicles are, but Kelly said it also reinforces why diagnostic services, such as pre- and post-scanning and recalibration are important.
“If you don’t know what’s on the car, you can misdiagnose certain issues,” he said. “Sometimes false positives indicate an issue when in fact that vehicle didn’t come equipped with that item in the first place.”
Knowing the build data, understanding the tools and services being used, and ensuring they are up-to-date will all help in the repair of the vehicle.
Rodenroth said that some parties don’t think pre-scanning a vehicle is necessary, and suggested that those shops consider the following:
- The role that trim levels can play
- How a pre-scan can help determine damage to the electronic components
- Potential unrelated electronic issues like maintenance and warranty concerns
- Airbag deployments are unique and can depend on many factors such as the number of occupants, their seat position, weight and if they were wearing seatbelts
- Specialized concerns with hybrid and EV vehicles
- Repair procedures that require scanning based on an operation being performed
- Scheduling off-site ADAS calibration requirements proactively
Rodenroth recommended addressing the vehicle owner’s expectations up front so he or she understands how the vehicle is equipped and what’s required to make it whole again.
“Consider repair vs. replace decisions very carefully, as many modern vehicles are constructed of non-repairable substrates and there is often limited reparability around ADAS components,” he said.
When it comes to parts utilization and the decision to purchase OEM or aftermarket, he advised listeners to watch bumpers and windshields very carefully.
“A lot of aftermarket windshields will have a plastic bracket that comes on that glass that is not serviced and can’t be transferred,” said Rodenroth. “If you are going to use aftermarket glass, you’ll want to confirm all things are in place.”
During the call, attendees were asked if a shop should interpret, implement and audit OEM repair procedures into ALL repair activity on a damage report. Nearly 90 percent answered yes.
“The key words are ‘all repair activity,’” said Rodenroth. “Some shops will look up structural procedures and airbag procedures, but won’t look up how to take a fender, hood or bumper cover off.”
Recently, General Motors surveyed 827 collision repair shops and found that 80 percent didn’t pull repair information on every vehicle. Those who attended the Guild 21 call were asked why. Almost 45 percent said they rely on technician experience, 20 percent said the damage was minor, 15 percent said the information was hard to find/interpret, 10 percent answered that they didn’t have the time, and 10 percent answered other.
In the field, Rodenroth said he has observed that shops don’t have time to pull the repair information for a variety of reasons---including having too much work or insurers putting pressure on them to get vehicles uploaded in a certain amount of time.
“We always have time when something is wrong, whether it’s when the customer comes back and pays for a rental, or you have to deal with them when they are upset. Let’s take the time up front and make a good repair plan and communicate efficiently,” Rodenroth said.
In addition, he said information is often hard to find and interpret.
“I think that is mission number one for OEMs---to try and make that a little easier to find and even offer day passes to the repair info that a shop can purchase,” he said.
Post-scanning and calibration
When it comes to post-scans and calibration, Kelly said, “You haven’t seen anything yet.”
“What we’re going to enter into with this calibration piece will dwarf any sort of discussion you’ve had to date on a pre- and post-scan.”
Kelly used the example of a Toyota Camry, reportedly the best-selling passenger vehicle. The 2018 model comes standard with an auto breaking feature. With the vehicle’s front-facing camera, any time a windshield is replaced or work is being done on the front of the Camry, a calibration is required.
“It’s doubtful to me that many in the industry really fully understand the full scope of this,” said Kelly. “Our defense as an industry is partly that the OEs themselves haven’t really come to terms with how it is to be done.”
Kelly recommended reading through the calibration repair procedures from each of the manufacturers to understand their differences and procedures. He noted that they are all “wildly different” and the recommended procedures sound like something from the Stone Age with plumb lines, string and measuring tapes.
“Add to that the space requirements, and you set yourself up for a pretty complicated process,” said Kelly.“I know there are a lot of people in the industry, and certainly the dealer network who are trying their hardest to do their best to recalibrate these cars after an accident. Many, if not most, are not doing it correctly and they don’t even know it.”
He said it isn’t an issue of people being mischievous or doing anything fraudulent.
“They just don’t know,” he said.
In addition, some of the repair procedures for today’s systems that are coming on vehicles are still being written while the cars are on the road.
“There are certain safety systems out there that have a certain progression to them that the OEs themselves haven’t quite figured out how to test in real-world circumstances,” said Kelly. “As you go forward and you think about pre- and post-scans and where it fits in the continuum of us having to evolve as an industry, that’s just the table stakes---that’s just to understand what’s going on with the vehicle.”
Kelly cautioned shops about what could happen if instructions aren’t followed.
“My concern is that you’re going to be misrepresenting and potentially delivering back to the customer a car that’s not safe for the road,” he said. “At the end of the day, we all have the same goal in mind: to return back to the consumer a vehicle that is fit for use and is going to perform as planned. And heaven forbid, if it gets in a second accident, those systems will operate as designed.
“The problem with the collision segment is that we get the newest cars in the worst possible condition. With the advent of all of the new electronics on cars and safety systems on cars, it’s hitting us harder than it is the general population.”
Kelly encouraged collision repairers to talk to peers and local associations to help get the word out.
“We owe it to our trading partners [insurers and vendors] and consumers to educate them on what car they have, what they bought, what the technology is, how it works and how it has to be repaired in the process of fixing those cars,” said Kelly. “If we don’t spend time educating folks, we are going to continue having these difficult conversations about who will or won’t pay and who will and won’t recognize certain repair procedures. Once we can have an open dialogue and talk to people about what’s involved in fixing a car, I think a lot of friction and issues [will] tend to go away.”