If you just go by the included items from your estimating system, the dollars could be flying right by and you won't even know it.
Remove glass before welding
First, you should R&I the glass if you are performing any welding operations (not an included item in Mitchell and CCC, but included in ADP). If you were replacing a door skin on a late model Chevy Camaro, the R&I of the door glass and mirror could add 1.2 to 1.5 additional labor hours to your estimate. Attached moldings, including the belt molding, must be removed and are usually not an included item. How about door mirrors? Nameplates and ornaments?
And what about all the items for corrosion protection? Again, none of these items are included in the repair times. You need to look at the door and the repair process and see what corrosion items are needed on an individual basis. You might need weld-thru-primer, sealants, gravel guard, adhesives (to glue skin to the intrusion beam), foams, self-etch/epoxy primer, and cavity wax. Each of these items should be an individual line item on your estimate because each door is an entity in itself. For example, not every door has a gravel guard. And for heavens sake, please don't lump everything into the term "replace corrosion protection." Another "not included" item is a sound-deadening pad as is the piece of plastic (moisture barrier) between the trim panel and the door shell.
Checklist for door skin repair
We made up this list as we replaced the skin on a 1999 Toyota Land Cruiser.
Did you know that there is a special hammer for door skins? It has a curvature for hard to reach areas and the other side of the hammer is reduced at the end to put all of its energy on the flange. There are two great dollies on the market that prevent the outer skin from being damaged. The first one is made of a hard rubber compound and the second is a "bean bag" (leather covered and filled with lead shot). These two dollies can be used in place of a traditional hammer and dolly and will reduce the amount of damage to the new skin as you hem it.
Another tool that speeds up the repair process is a pneumatic caulking gun. Besides being faster, it produces an OEM like finish. Finally, the price of a resistance spot welder has dropped the last couple of years to where they have become very affordable. They have three benefits over the traditional plug welds. First, they produce an OEM type of finish. Second, they are faster, and lastly there is no clean up of the weld nuggets as there is with MIG welders.
Toby Chess is a frequent presenter and lecturer at NACE and CIC meetings. He has over 25 years of experience in auto body repair.