Consumers

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A Great Place to start is CrashRepairInfo.com: Provides vehicle owners with information they can use to make informed decisions about the collision repair of their vehicle, no matter what vehicle brand they own.

Statistically, consumers will be in an auto accident about once every seven-to-ten years. Given the infrequency of such an event, most consumers don’t know where to turn for information about collision repair. This website—and the websites attached to it from the participating auto manufacturers—is designed to help bridge that gap.


What Autobody Repairers Do

Thousands of motor vehicles are damaged in traffic accidents every day. Research tells us there is an auto accident every 5 seconds in the U.S. Although some damaged vehicles are sold for salvage or scrapped, most can be repaired to look and drive like new. Automotive body repairers straighten bent bodies, remove dents, and replace crumpled parts that are beyond repair. They repair all types of vehicles, but mostly work on cars and small trucks, while a few work on large trucks, buses, or tractor-trailers.

When a damaged vehicle is brought into the shop, body repairers generally receive instructions from a supervisor who determines which parts to restore or replace and how much time the job should take.

Automotive body repairers use special equipment to restore damaged metal frames and body sections. They chain or clamp the frames and sections to alignment machines that use hydraulic pressure to align damaged components. “Unibody” vehicles, designs built without frames, must be restored to precise factory specifications for the vehicle to operate correctly. To do so, repairers use bench systems to make accurate measurements of how much each section is out of alignment and hydraulic machinery to return the vehicle back to its original shape.

Body repairers remove badly damaged sections of body panels with a pneumatic metal-cutting gun or other means and weld in replacement sections. Repairers pull out less serious dents with a hydraulic jack or hand prying bar, or knock them out with handtools or pneumatic hammers. They smooth out small dents and creases in the metal by holding a small anvil against one side of the damaged area while hammering the opposite side. They also remove very small pits and dimples with pick hammers and punches in a process called metal finishing.

Body repairers also repair or replace the plastic body parts used increasingly on newer model vehicles.They remove the damaged panels and identify the family and properties of the plastic. With most types, they can apply heat from a hot-air welding gun or by immersion in hot water, and press the softened panel back into its original shape by hand. They replace plastic parts which are badly damaged or more difficult to repair. Body repairers use plastic or solder to fill small dents that cannot be worked out of the plastic or metal panel.

On metal panels, they file or grind the hardened filler to the original shape and sand it before painting. In many shops, automotive painters do the painting. In smaller shops, workers often do both body repairing and painting. A few body repairers specialize in repairing fiberglass car bodies. In large shops, body repairers may specialize in one type of repair, such as frame straightening or door and fender repair.

Some body repairers specialize in installing glass in automobiles and other vehicles. Glass installers remove broken, cracked, or pitted windshields and window glass. Glass installers apply a moisture-proofing compound along the edges of the glass, place it in the vehicle, and install rubber strips around the sides of the windshield or window to make it secure and weatherproof.

Body repair work has variety and challenges—each damaged vehicle presents a different problem. Repairers must develop appropriate methods for each job, using their broad knowledge of automotive construction and repair techniques. Body repairers usually work alone with only general directions from supervisors. In some shops, helpers or apprentices assist experienced repairers.

To learn more, click on the additional page links in the top menu. There’s a wealth of information available here, including: Find A GCIA Member Shop, documents about your rights, what to do after an accident, and much more.

We hope you have found our site useful and welcome your comments and suggestions on how we can improve our efforts. Contact us through phone or eMail at: 770-367-9816 or gcia@gcia.org.