The process takes longer, but results in a vehicle that performs exactly as it should.
With so many specialized materials—from high-strength steel to aluminum, and metal composites, as well as plastics and carbon fibre—it’s imperative to document every step of the vehicle repair when it comes to high-end vehicles.
“After we document the damage to the vehicle, we put the VIN into the manufacturer portal and pull the build data. It will tell us what options are on that vehicle,” explains Jeff Pabst, General Manager, Pfaff Autoworks. “We also do a pre-scan on the vehicle, and the checklist goes into the file that stays with the vehicle.”
Pfaff Autoworks uses a colour-dot system to identify which parts need to be replaced, repaired or refinished. The vehicle is pre-dotted before it goes into repair planning. When the technician gets the vehicle into the bay, he or she can start to disassemble it based on the dots.
The tech will disassemble the car and arrange the parts—red dots on the ground, green dots on the parts cart, etc., and once the repair planner writes the estimate, any additional parts identified to replace or repair get added to the process. This way, the repair planner can go through it and document exactly what has to be replaced or repaired. From there the repair planner will document as much as possible, including part numbers and photos. For structural damages, markers are used to highlight the area.
“We then go to the parts system and verify the parts before we order. We actually go in with the part number and identify the exact parts required. The repair instructions are also printed at this time.” says Pabst.
The repair procedures are with the car at all times. “Some can be as much as 40 to 50 pages long. Others are only two or three pages depending on the repair,” adds Pabst.
Before the parts are ordered, the repair planner will go through the repair procedures to identify and order any factory materials such as hardware, including rivets, bonding agents and anything else the manufacturer specifies for that repair.
Another consideration is all the glues and bonding agents have three- to six-month expiry dates.
“The last thing you want to do is order a tube of bonding agent that only has a month to expiry left on it and you won’t have a car that needs that glue for another five or six weeks,” says Pabst.
“With aluminum, following procedure is huge because Porsche, Audi, and BMW all have separate ways of prepping it—how they want it cleaned, bonded and riveted, how many rivets, where to place them, and what type of rivets to use,” explains Pfaff Autoworks’ Shop Foreman, Robert Cargaro.
“In OEM crash testing, following procedures is huge, so the car can react in the exact way it was originally designed to. Without the procedures, you are putting people’s lives at risk.
Knowing how they want it cleaned, how many rivets in certain areas, is critical.
“We are fortunate at Pfaff Autoworks to work on race cars, so I can almost do my own crash testing. When I repair them, I can see how they react to a high-speed impact. We have had a few come back, and I was impressed at how the repairs held up,” adds Cargaro.
“I repaired a Porsche Panamera a few years ago, and I put a whole rear end section in it,” says Cargaro.
“The car was hit again by a truck in the back end, so I was able to go back and see how everything held up. Not one rivet popped, nor bond cracked. Everything held up as it should have. Everything performed as it should have in the collision.”