Collision Repair and Refinishing: What you Need to Know
Getting into any kind of car accident, no matter how small, can be traumatic. And after settling the matter, taking care of yourself, and all that, there is always your vehicle to think of. That is where collision repair and refinishing come in.
Collision repair technicians take care of repairing vehicle bodies after an accident. They can do repairs as minor as replacing a cracked windshield or fixing up a dent to something bigger like replacing an entire door panel or other parts that can’t be fixed anymore. They can also work on body customization or minor repairs like fixing up parts with corrosion damage or scratches.
Collision Repair vs Restoration
Oftentimes, these two can be confused with each other. In the world of automotive repair and restoration though, these two words, “repair” and “restoration,” mean two completely different things.
Collision repair is like cosmetic surgery for cars. It takes care of the more obvious meaning of the physical, visual, and cosmetic damage of the vehicle. It fixes up whatever physical damage the collision caused and makes sure that all the obvious corrections are made to make the car worthy for the road again.
Restoration, on the other hand, is internal surgery for the car. In this process, technicians sweep over the entire vehicle, in and out, to detect any underlying damage that may be hidden from view. More often than not, these damages are difficult to detect but they are the key to fully getting a vehicle that looks and works as it did before the accident.
After a collision, most people will only show concern for the obvious visual damage to their vehicles but it is important to also pay attention to the less obvious parts of the car. Even a minor collision can cause serious damage that can be a threat to the driver and passenger’s safety.
The Collision Repair and Refinishing Process
For those who aren’t familiar with the entire auto body repair process, it can be pretty confusing. After all, there’s more that goes into it than just a team of overall-clad technicians getting to work. Here is how the process works.
Every vehicle is different and each accident can affect different vehicles in so many ways. That’s why the first step in the whole repair process is to assess the damage. Technicians will have to see if the vehicle can still be economically repaired to a safe and drive-worthy condition. However, if the structural damage is extensive, the vehicle may be irreparable.
Estimating the Repair Cost
After assessing the damage, technicians will discuss with estimators or use computer software to create an estimate that they can forward to your insurance company. Take note though, most first estimates will only cover the visible damage. As the technicians start looking under the exterior of your car, you can expect them to find additional damage that will mean additional repair costs which they’ll immediately alert you and your insurance company of.
Blueprint or Teardown
Before starting the repair, technicians will come up with a blueprint to act as their guide to be able to repair your vehicle in a systematic way. In coming up with the blueprint, they’ll have to further tear down parts for further examination. This is where additional damage can also surface.
Some insurance companies will also request taking the vehicle apart to document the damages and make sure there are no further adjustments needed in the future before they act on your insurance claim. It’s also their way of ensuring that the claim is valid.
Metal and Frame Repair
Collisions can warp car frames beyond recognition and one of the first things most technicians take care of is the framework of the car. Using frame machines and other frame diagnostic systems to produce accurate shaping, they remake your car’s framework into its pre-accident condition. Depending on the extent of the damage, this part of the process can take days at the least and weeks at the longest.
After the framework, the metalwork comes next. Here, every part of your car undergoes intense scrutiny to ensure that everything is in line with the factory standards. Damaged parts are immediately repaired if not replaced altogether.
Reassembly and Refinishing
After all the repairs are done, the vehicle is ready for reassembly. First, it will be sanded and primed. Next, a base coat same as the original will be applied. Then, it will be topped with a clear coat and a glossy finishing to give it that minty shine. Once every part is nice and dry, technicians will restore all of it to its proper locations. This is a delicate process given that they have to ensure that even the smallest screw is in the right location otherwise the car might not be completely safe to drive in. Lastly, the vehicle will be washed and cleaned, and re-polished.
Testing and Hand Over
Before the car is released, it will undergo one last round of inspection and testing to ensure that every part is in place and that the car is safe to drive. Every tiny detail will be rechecked and all minor glitches will be taken care of. Technicians will also take the car out for a short road test to check that everything is functioning as it should be.
Once the car is ready, the technicians would meet with the owner to explain the repairs and to ensure that they are satisfied with the repairs. Reports will be made and the accounts department will prepare the final invoice for the insurance company.