A Typical Collision Repair Process
Step 1 : Estimate
On drive-able vehicles, the vehicle is raised on a lift in our inspection area and all visible damage is evaluated and entered into our computerized estimating system. This data is compiled into an estimate that determines the cost of repair for the damage that is visible at this time. An initial estimate is helpful when deciding on whether to file an insurance claim or not. However, often there is hidden damage that cannot be seen or accounted for until after the vehicle is disassembled. After the disassembly & blueprinting process, an accurate total cost of repairs can be determined.
Step 2 : Disassembly & blueprinting of vehicle
A drop-off and repair appointment is scheduled. When the vehicle is dropped off at our shop and the damage to be repaired is reviewed again and any non-related damage is noted and discussed with the customer. The vehicle is then dissembled to expose any previously hidden damage. The inner structure of the vehicle is examined and measured to insure that the safety of the vehicle has not been compromised in the accident. All damaged parts are marked showing that they will either need to be replaced or repaired. The repair estimate and parts order is updated accordingly and is now complete. Since the damage has now been fully documented, the vehicle and repair cost estimate are now ready for the insurance or customers review.
Step 3 : Repair Approval
Now that all damage has been identified, most insurance companies will send an appraiser to inspect the damaged vehicle and review our repair estimate. There may be some negotiations regarding replacement part type, labor charges and what repair procedures are required to repair the vehicle properly. The type of repair that will be performed will depend on the insurance company and the customer’s choices. Our estimates are generally written utilizing new factory parts and manufactures recommended repair procedures. Many insurance companies try to reduce the repair cost by only paying for parts that are either not made by the vehicle manufacture “aftermarket”, used parts from salvage yards “LKQ” or previously damaged parts “re-manufactured”. After the negotiation process, we will notify and explain to our customer any differences between our estimate and the insurers. We will also offer any repair options at this time. Once any repair differences are resolved, we obtain a signed repair authorization, the parts can be ordered and the actual repair process can begin.
Step 4 : Receive Parts
Replacement parts are ordered electronically which improves part ordering accuracy and reduces delivery time. Depending on the vehicle make and type of parts needed, complete part orders can be received in a few days. For uncommon parts or vehicle makes with inefficient part supply chains, part orders could take a week or more. Dissembling the vehicle completely before placing the parts order, allows us to receive all necessary parts in one shipment. Having a complete part order on hand speeds up the repair because our technicians won’t have to stop in the middle of a repair to wait for additional parts. Before repairs begin, all replacement parts are verified for correctness and any damage on used parts will need to be repaired.
Step 5 : Structural Repairs
If structural damage has been determined, the vehicle will need to be mounted on a structural alignment machine. It is critical to return the structure of a vehicle back to factory specifications. Most of the vehicle’s safety has been designed into its structure and its safety will be compromised if not completely repaired. All suspension and mechanical assemblies mount directly to the vehicle’s structure and if they are not located perfectly, could cause tire wear or unsafe vehicle handling and control conditions. A sophisticated computer measuring system is used to assure that an complete and accurate structural repair is performed.
Step 6 : Structural Part Replacement
After the vehicle’s structure has been restored to factory specifications, severely damaged structural parts will need to be changed. The structure consists of many individual parts that are welded together to form the structural shell of the vehicle. All replaced welded parts must be installed and located precisely to the manufactures specifications, since all other parts of the vehicle attach to this shell. This is the most critical part of the repair to ensure that the original safety and performance engineering of the vehicle is maintained.
Step 7 : Body Repair
On body parts with minimal damage and on the seams of replaced welded panels, some metal straightening and filler work will be required to achieve the original final fit and finish of the exterior body panels. The distorted metal areas on damaged panels are returned to its original contour, then a filler is used to cover any marks left in the metal from the straightening process.
Step 8 : Prime and Paint Preparation
Paint preparation is a critical step in the refinishing process that assures the proper appearance and durability of the paints finish. The vehicle is cleaned and moved into the refinishing area. Primers are applied to all repaired or bare metal areas to restore the vehicles original corrosion protection. After curing, all repaired or replaced body panels go through a series of sanding preparation steps that are required to bring the vehicle to a condition that’s ready for the color and clear application.
Step 9 : Refinishing
The vehicle is cleaned again and moved into one of our climate controlled paint booths. Due to the many possible color variations from vehicle manufactures, a color analysis is performed and the best matching color formula is selected and is then computer mixed for accuracy. Several coats of color are applied to the repaired and replaced panels. The color is also “blended” into any adjacent panels as needed to achieve an undetectable repair. The refinishing process is complete after several coats of protective clear coat has been applied over all painted and blended panels.
Step 10 : Reassembly
All parts that were removed during the repair including body panels, bumpers, glass, interiors and exterior trim are reassembled to the vehicle. The vehicles electronic systems are checked after reassembly, and any necessary sublet work is scheduled and performed. Finally, the vehicle looks whole again and the repair is almost complete.
Step 11 : Detailing
The vehicle is moved into the detail area and all refinished panels are inspected. Any imperfections in the paint are removed and all refinished and adjacent panels are machine waxed to achieve a uniform final finish. The vehicle is completely cleaned inside and out, then road tested to ensure that everything is working properly. A final quality inspection is performed and the customer is contacted to schedule delivery.
Step 12 : Delivery
Delivery is the final step in the repair process. The complete repair is reviewed with the customer while inspecting the finished vehicle. The final paperwork is completed and vehicle is returned to the customer after being restored to its pre-accident condition.