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Friday, 25 May 2012 17:54

Larry Montanez Talks OEM Procedures and Repair Standards

After listening to Larry Montanez III of P & L Consultants discuss OEM procedures and repair standards at AASP NORTHEAST™ in March this year, I wanted to know more about him and his company.

First, a little personal history. As a teenager, Montanez was all but obsessive about cars, both in real life and on TV. Enamored with the Batmobile, he remembers that fast American muscle cars were—then and now—“where it’s at.” It’s became a lifelong fascination.

To view a pdf file of this article with photos, click HERE.

As an adult, he became involved in the auto body industry as a fabricator and welder focused on customizations and restorations. Around 2000, Montanez became an I-CAR instructor, and about six months later, he and his mentor, Peter Pratti, decided to begin a consulting business aimed at teaching both sides of the business to both sides of the business, auto body shops and insurance agencies, in an effort to prove that everyone should be able to get along and to work together to figure out how things should be done. Montanez and Pratti strive to teach the same material in the same exact way, regardless of their audience.

Montanez and Pratti began by teaching classes on estimating as well as the triaging/blueprinting process, providing two aspects of the same subject. Additionally, they offer classes on damage analysis, welding, structural repair, airbag knowledge and safety information. P & L Consultants currently offers a dozen classes, six of which have been approved for the Rhode Island Training Certification program.

OEM Procedures
In discussing OEM procedures, Montanez reasons that they exist to provide OEMs with liability protection and because of component failure as supported by testing, in addition to the pressure from government regulations, consumer advocates, IIHS crash testing and NHTSA investigations, lawsuits and court decisions and defects attributed to design flaws. OEM position statements were created for the purposes of or because of OEM liability protection, components failures supported by case studies, lawsuits and court decisions, re-engineering design flaws, ensuring safe repairs and product, copyright and trademark protection.

Repair Standards
The desire for repair standards results from the influence of outside entities, or according to Montanez, “repair standards are made up by people who are trying to appease a different group of people who have no business being involved in collision repair, who are looking to save money on it.”

Montanez notes that collision repairers want repair standards because they are untrained and are reluctant to search for them on OEM websites. MLO shop owners want them to make insurance “partners” happy since insurers desire repair standards because they want to save money. Aftermarket suppliers are also driven by greed and the desire to make sales, while many industry associations are influenced by insurers. Still, Montanez does not believe that the idea of creating repair standards is not completely wrong; he is just not comfortable with the parties involved as their reasons for wanting repair standards create a biased view.

If repair standards are created, Montanez insists that it should begin with the formation of an independent group comprised of OEM representatives, collision repairers, engineers, physicists, metallurgists, industry experts and I-Car Tech Center’s Jason Bartanen and Steve Marks. Additionally, repair standards should only be created where none currently exist and only after a request letter to the OEM has failed. They should also be supported by crash testing and computer animated drawings, and they should be reviewable every six months. Montanez points out that this process should not include insurance companies because “no one cares what the insurance companies think.”

Specifically, both OEM and aftermarket parts should be tested to prove that the aftermarket parts work just as well as OEM parts before their use is encouraged.

Montanez lists the pros of creating repair standards as follows: more available procedures, lower insurer costs, lower severity, fewer totaled vehicles, more repaired vehicles, better insurer relations, more use of used parts, more sectioning procedures and more parts options.

He also notes the following cons: more improper repairs, more liability exposure, more fatalities, more injuries, more diminished value lawsuits, more shop lawsuits, dangerous to motorists and more bad business decisions. The use of damaged components or inferior parts can lead to more injuries in collision because the vehicle will not react the way it should, and this can lead to catastrophic separation which becomes a hazard to the general driving public.

In the case of improper repairs, even if due to the parts requested by the insurance company, liability falls on the repair facility, the shop owner personally, the technician (in some states) and sublet jobbers. The supplier can also be sued, but the insurer will never be called to the courtroom for an improper repair. Because the shop is potentially liable, shops should inform the customer or the insurance company if they cannot repair cars that way to avoid liability issues. In the instance of liability, safety factors are important, so only the OEM guidelines matter.

Because so much time, money and effort goes in to creating OEM procedures, these should always be adhered to. The goal behind their multiple engineering principles is to keep the occupants safe, therefore it is very important not to change the parameters of OEM guidelines. In order for repair standards to be made, a comparable amount of time, money and effort should be utilized. When OEM procedures are not available, a panel needs to collaborate to create repair standards to form a consensus that enhances the safety of collision repairs for all drivers and protects collision repair facilities from issues of liability.

Montanez reminds repairers that it generally takes three to four years to develop a vehicle,  and manufacturers have spent many millions of dollars on designing and testing, using crash tests, CAAD drawings, algorithms and so forth, and their instructions need to be taken seriously.

Though some aftermarket parts are not very different from OEM parts, a problem arises if the OEM changes the substrate of their material which can change corrosion rates and multiple other variables. For example, using an aftermarket radiator that does not meet OEM standards can cause overheating which will not be covered under the OEM’s warranty.

These standards can be referenced at i-car.com or nastf.org which both provide links to OEM websites. Alldata.com and autoepi.org also offer information on some OEM procedures. Some OEM guidelines follow to give you a minimal reminder on specific OEM cautions, processes and procedures.

ACURA/HONDA
Aftermarket/Alternative Components: not recommended, use voids warranty for that part of vehicle.
Replacement of Structural Components: recommends OEM parts to restore vehicle to pre-crash condition.
Salvaged/Used Airbags: not recommended, recommends use of new OEM airbags.
Salvaged/Recycled Components: not recommended, use voids warranty for that part of vehicle
Steel & Aluminum Wheels Repair: major repairs not recommended/no metal work, repairs should be limited to minor cosmetic sanding/polishing that removes only the finish.
Sectioning Frame Components: not recommended, collision specialists should follow repair manuals for sectioning frame components.

AUDI
Spot Welders: recommends use of specific spot welders.
Bench Systems: recommends use of specific bench systems.
Specific Repair Equipment: recommends use of specific repair equipment.
Specific Training for ASF: specifies training to repair ASF.
Specific Training for Steel: specifies training for repairing steel.
Specific Welding: specifies how to complete welding repairs.
Specific Repair Procedures/Parts: specifies parts and procedures to use when repairing vehicle.
OEM Components/Wheels: recommends replacement parts to be OEM parts and wheels.
Definition of Structural Repair: specifically defines structural repair.

BMW
Spot Welders: recommends use of specific spot welders.
Bench Systems: recommends use of specific bench systems.
Specific Repair Equipment: recommends use of specific repair equipment.
Specific Training for Graf/Combo: specifies training to repair Graf/Combo.
Specific Training for Steel: specifies training for repairing steel.
Specific Rivet-Bonding: recommends use of specific rivet-bonding.
Specific Repair Procedures/Parts: specifies parts and procedures to use when repairing vehicle.
OEM Components/Wheels: recommends replacement parts to be OEM parts and wheels.
Body Filler Thickness: specifies thickness of body filler recommended/required.
Specific Steering Gear Damage: specifies how to repair steering gear damage.
Specific PDR: recommends specific PDR procedures.

CHRYSLER/JEEP
Weld Bonding Procedures: recommends specific weld bonding procedures to be used in repairs.
Reconditioned Wheels: major repairs not recommended/no metal work, repairs should be limited to minor cosmetic sanding/polishing that removes only the finish.
Aftermarket/Alternative Components: not recommended, use voids warranty for that part of vehicle.
Salvaged/Used Airbags: not recommended, recommends use of new OEM airbags.
Seatbelts: all need to be replaced after accident; new seatbelts should be intended specifically for vehicle in which they are installed.
Replacement of Structural Components: recommends OEM parts to restore vehicle to pre-crash condition.
Use of Heat During Repairs: specifies how heat should be used during repairs to keep parts working in best condition possible.
Specific PDR: recommends specific PDR procedures.
Clipping/Sectioning: disapproves, voids warranty for that part.

FORD/LINCOLN
Aftermarket/Alternative Components: not recommended, use voids warranty for that part of vehicle.
Reconditioned Wheels: major repairs not recommended/no metal work, repairs should be limited to minor cosmetic sanding/polishing that removes only the finish.
Salvaged/Used Airbags: not recommended, recommends use of new OEM airbags.
Open Blending: specifies procedure to use.
Clipping/Sectioning: disapproves, voids warranty for that part.
Seatbelts: all need to be replaced after accident; new seatbelts should be intended specifically for vehicle in which they are installed.
Specific PDR: recommends specific PDR procedures.

GM
Salvaged/Used Airbags: not recommended, recommends use of new OEM airbags.
Aftermarket/Salvaged/Recycled OEM Components: not recommended, use voids warranty for that part of vehicle.
Wheels Repair: major repairs not recommended/no metal work, repairs should be limited to minor cosmetic sanding/polishing that removes only the finish.
Panel Bonding Procedures: specific procedures are specified.
Clipping/Sectioning: disapproves, voids warranty for that part.
Specific PDR: recommends specific PDR procedures.

HYUNDAI/MAZDA
Aftermarket/Salvaged Components: not recommended, use voids warranty for that part of vehicle.

JAGUAR
Spot Welders: recommends use of specific spot welders.
Bench Systems: recommends use of specific bench systems.
Specific Repair Equipment: recommends use of specific repair equipment.
Specific Training for Aluminum: specifies training for repairing aluminum.
Specific Training for Steel: specifies training for repairing steel.
Specific Welding: specifies how to complete welding repairs.
Specific Repair Procedures/Parts: specifies parts and procedures to use when repairing vehicle.
OEM Components/Wheels: recommends replacement parts to be OEM parts and wheels.

LAMBORGHINI
Spot Welders: recommends use of specific spot welders.
Bench Systems: recommends use of specific bench systems.
Specific Repair Equipment: recommends use of specific repair equipment.
Specific Training for Aluminum: specifies training for repairing aluminum.
Specific Training for Steel: specifies training for repairing steel.
Specific Training for Carbon Fiber: specifies training for repairing carbon fiber.
Specific Welding: specifies how to complete welding repairs.
Specific Repair Procedures/Parts: specifies parts and procedures to use when repairing vehicle.
OEM Components/Wheels: recommends replacement parts to be OEM parts and wheels.
Definition of Structural Repair: specifically defines structural repair.

MERCEDES BENZ
Spot Welders: recommends use of specific spot welders.
Bench Systems: recommends use of specific bench systems.
Specific Repair Equipment: recommends use of specific repair equipment.
Specific Training for Aluminum: specifies training for repairing aluminum.
Specific Training for Steel: specifies training for repairing steel.
Specific Welding: specifies how to complete welding repairs.
Specific Repair Procedures/Parts: specifies parts and procedures to use when repairing vehicle.
OEM Components/Wheels: recommends replacement parts to be OEM parts and wheels.
Specific Steering Gear Procedure: specifies procedure to repair steering gear.

NISSAN/INFINITI
Specific Repair Equipment: recommends use of specific repair equipment.
Specific Training for Aluminum: specifies training for repairing aluminum.
Specific Training for Steel: specifies training for repairing steel.
Spot Welders: recommends use of specific spot welders.
Bench Systems: recommends use of specific bench systems.
Specific Welding: specifies how to complete welding repairs.
Specific Repair Procedures/Parts: specifies parts and procedures to use when repairing vehicle.
OEM Components/Wheels: recommends replacement parts to be OEM parts and wheels.
Salvaged Components: not recommended, use voids warranty for that part of vehicle.

PORSCHE
Spot Welders: recommends use of specific spot welders.
Bench Systems: recommends use of specific bench systems.
Specific Repair Equipment: recommends use of specific repair equipment.
Specific Training for Aluminum: specifies training for repairing aluminum.
Specific Training for Steel: specifies training for repairing steel.
Specific Welding: specifies how to complete welding repairs.
Specific Repair Procedures/Parts: specifies parts and procedures to use when repairing vehicle.
OEM Components/Wheels: recommends replacement parts to be OEM parts and wheels.
Definition of Structural Repair: specifically defines structural repair.

TOYOTA/LEXUS/SCION
Specific Repair Procedures: specifies procedures to use when repairing vehicle.
OEM Components/Wheels: recommends replacement parts to be OEM parts and wheels.
Salvaged Components: not recommended, use voids warranty for that part of vehicle.
Specific Repair Equipment: recommends use of specific repair equipment.
Specific Training for Aluminum: specifies training for repairing aluminum.
Specific Training for Steel: specifies training for repairing steel.
Spot Welders: recommends use of specific spot welders.
Bench Systems: recommends use of specific bench systems.
Specific Welding: specifies how to complete welding repairs.
VW AUTO GROUP
Spot Welders: recommends use of specific spot welders.
Bench Systems: recommends use of specific bench systems.
Specific Repair Equipment: recommends use of specific repair equipment.
Specific Training for Steel: specifies training for repairing steel.
Specific Welding: specifies how to complete welding repairs.
Specific Repair Procedures/Parts: specifies parts and procedures to use when repairing vehicle.
OEM Components/Wheels: recommends replacement parts to be OEM parts and wheels.
Definition of Structural Repair: specifically defines structural repair.

 

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