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New Vehicle Materials Require New Processes in Repair

Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007
By Angie Kilbourne, AutoInc. Correspondent

How do you teach someone a new process that they don’t necessarily want to learn or believe that they need to learn? You have to make a case for that kind of change, said Steve Marks, a trainer with I-CAR. During his hour-long presentation on “New Design Technologies and Materials” today on the NACE show floor, he explained to attendees that the way they’ve always done things may not be the best way to repair today’s cars.

“Anyone who works with his hands gets in a groove of working a certain way,” said Marks. “They get better and better and faster. Someone comes along and says, ‘the way you are doing things may not be the best way,’ and the first thing they think is that we’re wrong. I don’t want to call it mistrust, but I would say it is human nature to resist change.”

But today’s collision repair professionals need to understand that vehicles are being designed very differently today, and these differences between design and materials are going impact the way vehicles need to be repaired.

THE TOOLBOX

Today’s attendees learned about:
Straightening and replacing parts made from these new high- and ultra-high-strength steels.
How new materials and designs are changing the process of how structures are repaired.
How the joining methods used for production, which also are required for collision repair, are changing and why.

Marks discussed the emphasis all automakers are placing on obtaining that coveted five-star crash rating. Techs need to be aware that a five-star rated side panel is made very differently today than one in the past. Even more importantly, Marks said, techs need to realize that if they don’t make the repairs correctly, it won’t be a 5-star rated panel when the repair is completed.

“I’m afraid a lot of people don’t think about this,” Marks pointed out. “You don’t want the public to think you can’t repair that vehicle to the same level of safety.”

Marks explained the different types of steel being used today in vehicles, from ultra-high-strength to “lightweight” versions, as well as how these different types absorb and transfer energy. He also discussed how to identify the different types by use, and then talked about the considerations techs need to take into account when deciding to straighten or replace a part – from removing parts made with these new steels to replacing with a part constructed from a new steel.

At the conclusion of this fast-paced session, Marks told attendees that the www.ICAR.com  Web site is a very good resource for anything from looking up the web addresses for vehicle information to data on sectioning procedures, as well as for an online training library and I-CAR’s Partial Replacement Matrix.

“This issue of vehicle safety trips my trigger because manufacturers are making vehicles that are so much safer,” Marks told the audience. “I want to make sure the owner who buys a vehicle [today] that is much safer knows that safety level continues through the life of the vehicle.”

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Copyright 2006. Automotive Service Association and AutoInc. Magazine. All rights reserved.
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