Crawford’s Auto Center’s in-shop slogan that helps our technicians stay focused on how the repairs to our customer’s vehicle should be executed is JLF. It is the basis and premise for our repair methods and the shop’s understanding while moving a collision repair forward and through the repair process. JLF is also how we manage our damage reports. Simply stated, JLF is to recreate what the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the damaged vehicle designed and engineered. As easy as it may sound, the world of auto body collision repairs has many distractions that attempt to redirect our just-like-factory ambition and impede the final objective of a pre-loss repaired automobile.
Let’s take for an example the front windshield of your automobile and recognize that it is not just a panel of glass that is in place to protect you from wind, rain, insects and any miscellaneous debris your vehicle drives through at 40-50 mph. Did you know your windshield is a vital part of your air bag safety and restraint system? In the split second of a frontal impact the air bags are designed to inflate and deflect off the inside of your windshield, filling the void between you and the steering wheel, your occupants and the instrument panel, keeping your bodies secured inside the compartment of the vehicle. Or in the event of an unexpected vehicle rollover, the importance of a proper factory recommended windshield or roof glass installed can be the difference between flying out of the vehicle or staying safely inside as the vehicle’s dangerous ride comes to an end. The windshield is designed to be a structural component of the vehicle by stabilizing the right and left A-pillars that are welded to the roof and front crossbeam. Your OEM windshield is specifically manufactured to protect the occupants of the vehicle with a sheet of safety plastic laminated between two panes of safety glass so in the event of an accident the glass stays intact rather than splitting into a million pieces that become slivers and daggers forced into your body.
The original manufacturer of your vehicle spends millions of dollars a year on intense crash testing to make sure every component of your automobile performs under the extreme conditions of an accident. The OEM’S obligation to you is a safe driving machine that protects you and your family against the perils of highway driving.
The U.S. Federal Government mandates automobile crash testing to safeguard the American driving community. Auto manufacturers crash test to assure their products sustain impact and perform in the manner they are designed.
Prior to purchasing a vehicle new or pre-owned the buyer will take the time to research the vehicles reliability, its design and its ability to protect its occupants under crash situations. You purchase a particular automobile with the mindset that it is the safest vehicle to operate on the highway. Why then would you allow an aftermarket or imitation part to be installed or placed into your vehicle so your insurance company can save a few bucks? The significance of our Just-Like-Factory slogan resonates throughout our windshield explanation whereas every factory designed part and component on your vehicle has been crash tested to respond in a particular sequence of a collision impact.
Now envision this: Take that same windshield we mentioned earlier and replace it with a non-original, non-factory non-crash tested windshield using the insurance company’s contracted glass installer who utilizes an inferior non-crash tested urethane adhesive for their installation. Your insurance company has saved a few hundred dollars for the cost of the windshield install. However, in an extreme accident like a head-on accident at 50–60 mph, the inferior bonding adhesive can’t hold the aftermarket windshield in place. This is due to the cheap glass disintegrating around the vehicle’s windshield frame when the airbag deploys, which rather than a designed deflection off the glass, the airbag travels through the windshield cavity to the outside of the vehicle. What happens to the person sitting in the seat hoping to be protected by the airbag deflecting off the windshield? Now all of those original manufacturer’s safety tests become a reality. The vehicle fails to perform under extreme conditions and the occupants are placed into a life or death situation because the insurance company was able to save a few bucks replacing your windshield with a cheaper aftermarket panel of glass and cheaper bonding adhesive that appears to be the same but was not crash-tested to withstand a head-on collision.
The energy forces absorbed throughout the vehicle in an automobile accident generates a chain of events that send collision signals throughout the entire blueprint of the modern automobile. The unibody frame is designed to absorb impact forces and will crumple at designated built-in crunch zones. Crumple zones work by managing crash energy, absorbing it within the outer parts of the vehicle, rather than being directly transferred to the occupants. As these crumple zones absorb impact, they signal the airbag deployment restraint system and the seat belt retractors to react automatically protecting the vehicle’s occupants. All of this energy is dependent upon the force of the impact and speed at which the accident occurs. During our damage analysis and restoration process of these types of vehicles we see little resistance from the insurance industry to reimburse the cost of structural parts or safety related airbag and restraint components that become compromised during an accident and require replacement. However, any of the exterior parts such as windshields, fenders, hoods, bumpers, bumper reinforcements, wheels, trunks, glass and lights that are attached to the very same structural components become damaged, insurance companies insist that aftermarket, imitation parts will work just fine as per that is the insurance policy they sold you, that is all they owe.
It is our opinion that your auto body / collision repair service has an obligation to repair your damaged vehicle to the same specifications recommended by the vehicle’s original manufacturer. Same parts, following the same refinish guidelines, same repair procedures and utilizing the same torque specifications. Allowing a third party payer such as an insurance company to interfere and dictate the repair and restoration process of your automobile investment is inviting them to take advantage of you. Permitting the individual or company that is legally responsible to pay for your claim, to establish the amount they are willing to pay is like asking the fox to watch over the henhouse. Choose your collision repair facility carefully. Make sure your repairs are handled by a consumer-oriented, independent repair facility that will not compromise your safety and automobile investment to preserve their insurance company Direct Repair “D R P” relationship.