One of the highlights of the 2019 NORTHEAST automotive services show was the OEM repair panel on “The Changing Landscape in Certified Repair and Understanding the OEM Repair Procedures.”
Moderated by Ron Reichen of Precision Body & Paint and Barry Dorn of Dorn’s Body & Paint, the panel consisted of Aaron Clark from Assured Performance, Leigh Guarnieri from Honda, Mark Allen from Audi, Kenneth Park from Volvo, Dave Gruskos from Reliable Automotive Equipment, and Rick Miller from Wadsworth International.
After explaining the purpose of the panel discussion, Reichen jumped right in with his first question regarding how shops manage the equipment required by certification programs.
Gruskos explained, “There’s no magic piece of equipment to keep everyone happy. OEMs do a lot of testing, so you have to get the specific list of equipment from the OEM. Yes, things will change, and more equipment will be required later because vehicles keep evolving, and the equipment has to evolve with the cars. Before buying equipment, do your research. Any hastily made decision is a bad decision.”
Allen agreed, noting that OEMs crash-test around 75 vehicles per model and have a whole subset of engineers responsible for testing collision repair and documenting the procedures along with providing a list of tools and equipment. After the initial repair, the vehicles are crash-tested again to ensure that the repaired vehicle holds up to the OEM’s standards.
Reichen suggested that shops determine which manufacturers they should seek certification from by looking in local parking lots to identify which brands are most common.
“It’s important that you know your market and research the prevalent vehicles in your area. Then, establish relationships with local dealers because many OEMs require dealer sponsorships,” he said.
Reichen also noted that new equipment may be needed as new models and materials emerge.
“Once you sign on, OEM certification is a journey, not a destination,” he said.
Clark emphasized the importance of looking at equipment specifications to avoid redundancies whenever possible, though he admitted that some OEMs require specific equipment.
Allen added, “When we revamp our repair procedures, we try to maintain relevance so new equipment isn’t necessary and we can help keep the budget in line.”