By Mike Bryan, UCR President (from Provinz February 2015 page 31)
There was insufficient space in December’s Provinz to publish the full article I wrote on the subject of our November Social’s presentation.
This additional article will help you understand:
• Some simple, precautionary steps to be taken in preparation for a collision you hope will never happen;
• Why Porsche and other vehicle manufacturers are introducing certified collision repair programs and what that could mean for you;
• How and why you should choose a collision repairer today (even though you have no intention of having a collision); and
• The benefits of understanding your options and rights, and of having a plan.
December’s article provided some facts about the collision repair industry and some reasons for its contraction and consolidation.
But the big issue and game changer is vehicle complexity and advanced technology. How is this affecting the collision repairer and, potentially, its ability to repair your vehicle correctly and safely?
The task of the collision repairer is to return damaged vehicles to pre-accident condition. For many years there were evolutionary developments in vehicle design and the better-run collision repair facilities were able to take these in their stride, adjusting to new repair products and techniques.
However, some of the latest developments in Original Equipment (OE) technology are making this more difficult due to the increasing rate of change and the high cost of equipment, tools and training required in order to carry out correct and safe repairs. In some cases, prior experience provides no help at all when it comes to knowing how to carry out certain aspects of the repair process, for example, when bonding new advanced technology materials.
Why are vehicle manufacturers introducing new technology at a rate the collision repair industry at large cannot match in repair capability?
The reasons behind these latest technology developments are: • Regulatory pressure on vehicle manufacturers to improve fuel economy is resulting in weight reduction, through the use of high strength (thinner) steels, carbon fibre and aluminum. For example, Canada’s best selling vehicle, the Ford F150, has just shed about 700lbs through the switch from steel to aluminum for most body panels and other parts.
Another gambit is the use of different motive power–electric or hybrid. • Pressure on vehicle manufacturers to increase safety through computer technology—ABS, stability con trol, TPMS, collision avoidance, telematics and more. • Competitive pressure to provide desirable features like connectivity, infotainment, and potentially driverless cars.
Why vehicle manufacturers are taking an interest in collision repair
Vehicle manufacturers are conscious that not all collision repairers (independent or dealer-owned) are created equal in terms of skills and equipment. Since the manufacturers have a vested interest in safety, value retention, customer satisfaction and brand image, some are feeling the need to have a say in how their vehicles are repaired after a collision.
In some cases, including Porsche, they are creating standards for the collision repair facility, its equipment, tools, training and customer satisfaction. They are then seeking collision repairers willing to invest, become certified and submit to regular audits.
It’s worth noting that the collision repair industry has come to accept that the only logical source for the setting of repair standards is the vehicle manufacturer, since it was the one that designed, specified the materials and assembled the vehicle in the first place. While the better-run collision repairers will do their best to follow the vehicle manufacturers’ standards, only a relatively small number will become certified by those vehicle manufacturers who run such programs.
Porsche certified collision centre program
In line with these developments, the vehicle manufacturer closest to our heart has been taking steps to ensure that Porsche owners can locate specific Porsche certified collision repair facilities with the ability to correctly and safely repair their vehicles.
At our November Social John Evers of Porsche Cars Canada explained he has been busy identifying suitable repairers willing to make the investment in training, tools and equipment to meet Porsche’s high standards and join its network of Porsche Certified Collision Centres. Some are dealer-owned, while others are independent collision repairers affiliated with particular Porsche dealers. John added that this is a factory-driven program with certified repairer networks across Canada, the USA and worldwide.
Why and how you should choose a collision repairer today
Few vehicle owners would be able to recognize the difference between a correct, safe repair and one that may simply look OK, for no other reason than the paint is shiny and the colour matches.
However, unless the precise materials, including original equipment parts and processes defined by the vehicle manufacturer’s repair standards are followed, a non-compliant repair may not become evident until a second collision highlights any weakness of the original repair when a similar impact results in greater damage and safety risk.
Put bluntly, that could mean the first front end crash is able to absorb the impact as per the design and original construction, and therefore keep the occupants safe. However, if the repair does not correctly and precisely follow the vehicle manufacturer’s repair standards, it is possible the impact of a subsequent front end crash may not provide the same degree of protection for the occupants.
Another downside of substandard repairs is diminished value. Imagine trading in your Porsche and the dealer offering thousands less than you expected because he can see that your car has been repaired, but not by a certified or top class repairer. Clearly, “repaired to pre-accident condition” must mean much more than shiny paint! Pfaff Autoworks and 427 Auto Collision are two of the five Porsche Certified Collision Centres appointed by Porsche Cars Canada in Ontario. At our November Social Jeff Pabst of Pfaff Autoworks and Lorenzo D’Alessandro of 427 Auto Collision talked about the rigorous process they had gone through to become certified, adding that their collision centres were also certified by other vehicle manufacturers and approved by all the leading insurers.
Turning to the question of what to do in preparation for the possibility of a future collision, the main thing, said Lorenzo, is to do your research in advance and decide which collision repairer you would want to carry out collision damage repair for you. The criteria you might use would include factory certification, warranty offered, staff training qualifications and the answers to questions you may ask about their equipment and customer satisfaction scores. Once you’ve decided, keep a note of the repairer’s contact details in your glove box or in your phone.
Having a plan helps you stick to it
What should you do if you’re involved in a collision on a highway, when a tow truck appears out of nowhere and the driver tries to sweet-talk you, while you’re in a state of shock, into signing a form and letting him tow your vehicle to the repairer of his choice? It’s easier to decline if you already have a note of your plan, whether it is to call your chosen collision repairer, your insurer, or a reputable tow truck company. If in doubt, or if under pressure from a police officer wanting to clear the road, ask the tow truck driver for a firm price to tow your vehicle home or to a trustworthy location, so that you can clear your head and do further due diligence before deciding to whom you will entrust its repair.
You may have read about new regulations in Ontario that are designed to reduce what might be termed “predatory towing”. However, it is still recommended that you have a plan so that you can exercise control of the situation… the one we all hope will never happen.
Here are contact details for the two Porsche Certified Collision Repair Centres represented by our presenters at November’s social plus another within UCR that is affiliated with Porsche of London:
427 Auto Collision
395 Evans Ave, Etobicoke, ON M8Z 1K8
Tel: 416 259 6344
(Affiliated with Downtown Porsche)
214 Courtland Ave, Vaughan, ON L4K 4W9
Tel: 905 715 7383
Burwell Auto Body
485 York Street, London, ON N6B 1R4
Tel: 519 438 5175
(Affiliated with Porsche of London)