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The importance of following OEM guidelines

( 11/07/2017 ) Written by: Douglas Craig

by Douglas Craig, Structural Adhesives Applications Engineering Manager & Collision Repair Industry Liaison, LORD Corporation and Dennis Beardsley, North American Training Manager for Saint-Gobain and I-CAR Instructor

Before starting a new collision repair job, it’s critical for technicians to understand where to obtain proper repair information and product instructions and how the use – or misuse – of these products can affect the repair’s final outcome and integrity of the vehicle.

Roughly five years ago, the collision repair industry as a whole decided that the repair standard for any particular car would be the information provided by the vehicle manufacturer.

This puts manufacturers on the hook for providing all the information when not all of them may have been on board with doing it. It also makes the assumption that a repair technician is able to understand and even find the information. Any shop technician who is going to make a repair really needs to understand what it means to truly fix the vehicle. At the root of it is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) guidelines and repair standards.

The intent of setting OEM guidelines and repair procedures as the standard was to make sure that any shop technician performing a repair really understands what it means to correctly fix the vehicle.

However, each OEM has its service information in a different format, which creates a challenge. There is not always an explanation as to why a particular material should be used or not used on a specific substrate or why a bumper cover shouldn’t be fixed in a certain area.

Misinformation, lack of knowledge in collision repair and not knowing where or how to find the proper OEM repair guidelines can lead to the wrong product being used because it is handy or deemed sufficient. When the term equivalent’ is listed in service publications from some manufacturers, not all collision repair technicians may know what is considered an “equivalent.”

Strictly adhering to OEM guidelines should be a body shop’s golden rule when it comes to collision repair, but it’s not always as simple as it sounds. When a repaired vehicle goes back into service, you need to make sure the owner is getting it back with the same structural integrity. Sometimes figuring out how to access the information itself can be difficult.

This is when the collision repair product manufacturers need to collaborate with OEMs to create a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that takes the attributes of other guidelines and compiles them into one document. With all available information at hand, testing can be done to develop a product that meets OEM standards, and then may likely be OEM recommended for collision repair.

We need to create a culture based on this mentality – looking at what the OEM wants first and then making a repair decision based on that must be embraced. It’s critical to reinforce this mindset for both veteran repairers and those that are new to the industry that proper training is needed.

At the end of the day, the repair procedure or product specified isn’t our call, and OEM recommendations must be respected.

The bottom line is that the OEM is the expert. We must follow their guidelines and continue educating and training on their recommended procedures and products for successful collision repair.

For more information on collision repair adhesives and for OEM bulletins on repair recommendations, visit www.Fusor.com.

For information on training, visit www.i-car.com.

Douglas Craig

In his structural adhesive technical service role at LORD, Doug is responsible for providing guidance and repair solutions to repairers, OEMS and insurers which incorporate the proper materials and methods. Doug's previous role, as the Collision Repair Manager at Fiat Chrysler Automobile, was focused on all topics related to collision damageability and repairability.

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