What Happens To Your Car During A Collision Repair

From the consumer's viewpoint, getting a car repaired after an accident has become easy. You take your car in to your insurance-approved shop that does auto body repairs and a few days later, you pick it up looking new. What happens during that time are a number of steps with a dozen repair technicians working against manufacturer specifications. Here is how a collision repair job is experienced from the perspective of your car.

The Second Inspection

During your first visit to the auto repair shop, you received an estimate of the damage repair based on the estimator's experience with such accidents. They plugged their numbers into a computer program which tells them which parts need to be ordered. You leave your keys with the manager and catch a ride home.

Once the work begins on your car, the damaged area is taken apart and each part examined. The initial estimate may cover the entire repair, but the auto shop like Convoy Collision and Auto Body may uncover other problems that need to be addressed. The estimator tries to be as accurate as possible, because they don't like calling to say there is more work to do. But it does happen.

Fixing Structural Damage

After the damaged section of the car is disassembled, the car's frame is examined. If bent or twisted, the shop will attempt to straighten that section. This must be done so the new parts will fit properly on the car. A bent frame can also affect the safety when driving the car.

Repairing Body Panels

With the frame straightened, the panels that make up the body are repaired. Dents are hammered or pulled out of metal panels. Then the metal is sealed and sanded. Composite body panels are replaced in whole sections. Once the damaged body panels have been repaired or replaced, your car is ready to go to the paint booth.

Painting Stage

Your car is now washed and the repaired area is cleaned with a chemical wash to remove any oil or grease that prevents the paint from adhering to the panels. Parts of the car are now masked to prevent paint over-spray from marring the original painted surfaces. Your car is placed in a paint booth that is shielded from the rest of the auto shop. The actual painting is done by spraying layers, often with sanding between coats of paint. The sanding is necessary to get the high-gloss look of a new paint job. After the paint dries, the masking is removed and any touch ups to the pain are done.

Other System Repairs

Your car may now get sent out to another specialty shop for repair of other components, such as:

  • front end alignment
  • seat belt and air bags
  • moon roof and sun roof
  • auto stereo components
  • seats and upholstery

Final Cleanup and Inspection

Before your car is signed off on the repairs, it is washed, vacuumed and inspected against the original work order. When the shop manager approves the work, you're called to come pick up your car.

Your car goes through a number of steps and is worked on by a number of people. It may even visit different auto shops to complete the repairs. The next time you wonder why it takes several days to finish a car repair, consider all of the work that must be done to return your car to you, like new.