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Estimate

Once a vehicle has been turned over to a collision repair center, after the police reports are finished and all insurance photographs are taken, repairs do not start right away.

The first step in the process is to write up an estimate. The estimate indicates which parts should be repaired, replaced, and/or painted. It also indicates what type of parts should be used, how much the repairs will cost, and approximately how long it will take to make the repairs.

More than one person may write an estimate. It may be written by an estimator/production manager from the collision repair facility, an appraiser/adjuster from the insurance company, or an independent appraiser/adjuster for the insurance company. Before the repairs can begin, the insurance company, collision repair facility, and customer must all agree to the estimate.

Note: It is always the customer’s choice, where (at which collision repair facility) he wants his/her vehicle to be repaired.

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Parts

Once the insurance company, collision repair facility, and customer must all agree to the estimate, the claim is authorized. Then only are parts ordered as estimated on the quotation.

Repairs on a vehicle can only start when all the necessary parts have arrived at the repair facility.

Note: When a part is on “back-order”, the client will immediately be notified – this lengthens the repair process.

 

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Client deliver vehicle

The service advisor will contact the client to schedule a suited date to bring in the vehicle for repairs.

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Repair process

4.1 Panel beater, strip & fit

4.2 Paint preparation & paint shop

4.3 Paint shop

The refinishing process is when spray guns are used to apply coats of primer, basecoat (color), and clear-coat to the vehicle. The refinish technicianmay apply the paint and coatings to the parts on or off the vehicle. If parts are refinished on the vehicle, adjacent areas are masked off using paper and tape.

A paint code on the vehicle is used to identify the paint formula (colour) that the paint maker recommends. Many different tints are used to make the colour that is sprayed on the vehicle. Often a process called blending is used to create a uniform colour appearance. Paint distributors and paint system manufacturer representatives supply the collision repair facility with the necessary refinish materials and offer technical support.

The graphics and pinstripes on a vehicle may be painted or applied as a decal. Painted graphics are applied free-hand, or they are applied in a series of masking steps. Decals are applied after the paint has dried.

The vehicle is protected against corrosion before, during, and after the refinishing process. Corrosion resistant primers, seam sealers, and anti-corrosion compounds are used to help prevent the repaired area of the vehicle, as specified by manufacturer from rusting.

4.4 Panel beater / Assemble

The first area that will be repaired if necessary is the frame of the vehicle. Once the structural integrity of the vehicle is assured, the repair technicians move on to the non-structural parts of the vehicle. This includes door panels, bumpers and other exterior panels.

Non-structural repairs:

Almost every vehicle brought to a collision repair facility has some type of non-structural damage. A collision repair technician (panel beater) repairsdamage to plastic, aluminum, and steel exterior panels. Major damage generally requires part replacement, but minor damage is typically repaired with hand tools and shaped to contour using body filler and sanders. Paint-less dent repair (PDR), which is removing damage without using body filler or paint, is another option for repairing minor damage.

Structural repairs:

Vehicles are built to certain specifications and repaired to tolerances ranging from 0-5 mm. A structural repair technician uses specific locations and three-dimensional measuring equipment to determine if the vehicle frame or unibody structure was damaged during a collision.

A vehicle that requires structural repairs is placed on a frame straightening rack or bench. Additional disassembly may be required to protect adjacent parts from damage or to access areas that require repair. The vehicle is anchored, and chains and hydraulic rams are used to accurately pull the frame or unibody structure back to specifications.

If structural parts cannot be straightened, the parts are fully or partially replaced following vehicle maker recommendations. Most steel structures are welded, but aluminum structures may be joined using a combination of welds, rivets, and adhesive.

Non-structural parts:

Including trim, it may be bolted, clipped, adhesively bonded, riveted, or welded onto the vehicle. To reduce the noise, vibration, and harshness, some vehicle makers use foam fillers between the panels. The headlamps are also aimed before the vehicle is returned to the customer.

4.5) Polishing

Collision repair paint are usually polished.

4.6) Cleaning

Customer’s vehicle are properly cleaned from front through to back – interior and outside.

4.7) Quality Control

The vehicle and repairs are also inspected and compared to the estimate.

 

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Client notification

“After the repairs has been done, the vehicle is properly cleaned and inspection done on the repaired work and compared to the estimate. Then only is the client notified that the repairs done on the vehicle is complete and the vehicle is ready for the customer/client to collect his/her vehicle or either the vehicle is delivered.”

 

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Vehicle delivery

Customer inspects the repairs done as per quotation carried out. A clearance certificate must be signed, and if necessary, the excess needs to be paid, before the vehicle can be released. If no excess needs to be paid, only the clearance certificate to be signed and then the customer can take his/her vehicle.