Civic Improvements

How Honda’s new steels and safety systems will impact collision repairs.

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The 2016 Honda Civic, available since November 2015, was recently named AutoGuide.com 2016 Car of the Year. According to Colum Wood, AutoGuide group editorial director, “A car that’s this good, with Honda’s reputation for quality, reliability and durability, just doesn’t come along every day.”

While the engine, styling and premium features played a role in Honda winning the award, there also are a number of advanced vehicle systems that factored in. The advanced vehicle structure, along with other advanced vehicle safety systems, has some important collision repair implications that collision repair professionals need to be aware of for complete, safe and quality repairs.

Body structure

Similar to other Honda and Acura vehicles, the 2016 Civic uses Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure in the front of the vehicle. According to Honda, “ACE is a Honda-exclusive body design that utilizes a network of connected structural elements to distribute frontal crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the vehicle. This helps reduce the force transferred to the cabin and more evenly disperses the forces transferred to other vehicles involved.”

The first significant change in the structure occurred between the 2005 and 2006 model year Civics. The ’05 Civic employed roughly 35 percent use of high-strength (HSS) and ultra-high-strength steels (UHSS). For the 2006 model, that number jumped significantly to more than 65 percent use of HSS and UHSS. The 2016 Civic continues that trend with a body made up of 84 percent HSS and UHSS, including 26 percent UHSS – 980 megapascal (MPa) and higher.

However, if you compare the types of steel found on the Civic to classifications from the auto/steel partnership, that number goes up even more as the Civic uses 780 MPa steel for front, lower rails. This strength of steel would be considered by many to be UHSS. Additionally, the Civic uses 590 MPa steel in the floor and a handful of other areas; this is quite close to the 600 MPa threshold for UHSS classification used by many.

Honda has specific welding requirements for its vehicles, depending on the type and location of steel being replaced. For steels with a tensile strength of 440 MPa, or less, Honda allows conventional ER70S-6 electrode wire. However, for steels stronger than 440 MPa, and up to 980 MPa, Honda requires a special electrode wire. The required electrode wire is Bosch DS980J electrode wire. This electrode wire has a tensile strength of 1,011 MPa. (More information on Honda’s electrode wire requirement can be found at http://bit.ly/1NscFq5.)

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The Civic is built with 6000 series aluminum bumper reinforcements and crush caps. Similar to other bumper reinforcements, no repairs are allowed. The aluminum bumper reinforcement is attached to the steel structure, using one-time use fasteners to isolate the steel from the aluminum.

Expanded use of 1,500 MPa steel

Honda’s extensive use of 1,500 MPa steel continues with the latest generation of the popular Civic. However, no other vehicle to date uses this material to the extent that the Civic does. Not only does Honda employ this material for the A- and B-pillars, the front roof bow and rocker panel (similar to other Honda and Acura vehicles), they are also leveraging this steel in the rear rails. This is the first example from any vehicle maker of the use of this level of strength steel in rear rails. More information on Honda steel types, including 1,500 MPa steel, can be found in the “Honda & Acura High-Strength Steel Repair (HON11e)” course delivered exclusively through I-CAR. More information on this course can be found at i-car.com.

The same rules that Honda has for 1,500 MPa steel in other areas also applies to the rear rails. Honda does not allow any straightening or sectioning of these parts. If a 1,500 MPa steel part is damaged, the only option is complete replacement at factory seams.

In addition, squeeze-type resistance spot welding (STRSW) is the only approved attachment method for those areas that are accessible by the spot welding arms. If the spot welding arms aren’t able to gain two-sided access to the spot weld locations, Honda requires metal inert gas (MIG) brazing. MIG brazing should not be substituted for areas accessible for two-sided spot welding.

Depending on the location of the brazing joint areas, either a single plug-weld style or dual-plug-weld style MIG brazing joint is required. Specific information on the locations of each is only available in the body repair manual for the Civic. The Honda collision repair website can be accessed via https://rts.i-car.com/oem-information/honda.html or directly at www.techinfo.honda.com. When MIG brazing, Honda requires a welding machine capable of pulse-spray transfer.

If you are unfamiliar with MIG brazing, I-CAR offers two courses on this repair method. MIG Brazing Theory (BRZ01e) course is an online training program that covers the fundamentals of MIG brazing. It’s a one-credit-hour course that’s applicable to a number of I-CAR roles. The latest I-CAR offering on MIG brazing is the new MIG Brazing Hands-On Skills Development (BRZ02) course. It’s delivered as an in-shop course using the repair facilities equipment. The course reinforces the theory learned in BRZ01e and continues with practical welding exercises designed to prepare technicians for MIG brazing on today’s vehicles.

Additional safety and driver assistance features

In addition to the safety features built into the structure of the vehicle, the 2016 Civic is also available with a number of Honda sensing features. These advanced safety and drive-assistance systems include adaptive cruise control, with low-speed follow, lane-keep assist, road-departure mitigation and the Honda Collision Mitigation Braking System with pedestrian-sensing capability. Each of these systems has additional considerations following replacement.

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If you identify one of these systems that require part replacement, you’ll have to access the Honda service information to identify the replacement procedures. You’ll also need to determine what, if any, recalibration/aiming is required for the systems. The following list is not comprehensive, but is designed to provide you with some basic guidance for dealing with these systems.

• Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure (FCW/LDW): These systems do exactly what their names imply. The FCW alerts the driver if it senses that a collision is imminent with a vehicle ahead. The LDW alerts the driver if the system senses that the vehicle is making a lane change without signaling. The camera for these systems is attached to the windshield and requires aiming if the camera unit is removed or replaced or if the windshield is removed or replaced. Fortunately, unlike some other vehicles, if the aiming is incomplete, there are FCW and LDW indicators that will illuminate and blink, warning the repairer, or driver, that the system detects a problem.

• Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS): Leveraging the same camera as the FCW and LDW, the LKAS is designed to bring the vehicle back into the middle of the lane, if it detects a lane departure being made without the use of the turn signal. Similar to the FCW and LDW, the system requires aiming if the camera unit is removed or replaced or if the windshield is removed or replaced. This system will also illuminate the LKAS warning lamp if aiming is not completed.

• Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Collision Mitigation Braking

System (CMBS): The ACC and CMBS both use a “millimeter wave radar” located behind a plastic cover on the lower left side of the front bumper to detect vehicles ahead of the Civic. The radar cover cannot be repaired and should not be refinished or have any coverings over it.

If excessive paint, coverings or other materials cover the plastic, a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) may be set. The radar cover also requires specific removal and installation procedures found in the service manual. The radar unit must be aimed if it is removed or replaced, or if it has a damaged mounting area. If the aiming process is not completed, the ACC indicator lamp will illuminate.
• LaneWatch: This device uses a small camera located in the passenger side door mirror that’s activated when the driver signals a right turn or lane change. When the driver signals right, the camera activates and displays live video on the touch-screen display area on the center of the instrument panel. This display, according to Honda, “reveals nearly four times more than the passenger-side mirror alone.”

The LaneWatch camera must be aligned if removed or replaced if the door mirror or panel is removed or replaced.

It also must be aligned if the door has had collision repairs performed. Unlike the aforementioned systems, LaneWatch does not set DTCs or illuminate an indicator lamp. Camera aiming is done using the vehicle navigation system and center display “self-diagnostics.”

Conclusion

With sales around 300,000 units per year, the Civic continues to be one of the most popular vehicles sold in the United States. This makes the likelihood of seeing one of these in your repair facility pretty high. Collision repair professionals need the proper information, knowledge and skills required to work on today’s vehicles. Thorough damage assessment, a solid repair plan and the proper tools and equipment are essential for complete, safe and quality repairs.

Editor’s Note: The information in this article is applicable only to the Honda Civic four-door sedan. The two-door Civic coupe won’t be available until later in the first quarter of 2016.

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