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A body shop, or collision repair facility , has well trained technicians, specialized tools, and heavy equipment for restoring damaged vehicles to their preaccident condition. There are several ways to classify a body shop. A few of the most common are discussed in the following section.

An independent body shop is owned and operated by a private individual. The shop is not associated with other shops or companies.

A franchise body shop is tied to a main headquarters that regulates and aids the operation of the shop. The shop logo, materials used, fees, and so on, are all set by the corporate headquarters and the franchise must follow these guidelines.

A dealership body shop is owned and managed under the guidance of a new car dealership, such as General Motors, Chrysler, Lexus, Toyota, Jaguar, or Ford. This type of shop often concentrates on repairs of the specific make of cars sold by the dealership.

A progression or production shop often has an assembly line organization with specialists in each area of repair. One person might do nothing but heavy frame repair work. Another technician might be good at building the body, or installing parts and panels. The shop might have a wheel alignment technician, prep people, painter, and cleanup specialists. The vehicle will move from one area and specialist to the next until fully repaired.

A specialty shop performs only specific types of repairs. For example, the body shop might send a radiator with a small hole in it to a specialty radiator shop for repair with specialized equipment.

A body shop that provides complete collision services might do wheel alignments, cooling system repairs, electrical system diagnosis and repair, suspension system work, and other repairs. Today, more and more collision repair shops are offering complete collision services. They have both a body shop area and a mechanical repair area.


A vehicle involved in a collision is first brought into the shop, where a damage estimate is prepared to calculate the cost of repairs. The labor, parts, and materials must be added to find the total cost of vehicle repair.

Estimating involves analyzing damage and calculating how much it will cost to repair a vehicle. It is critical that the quote on the repair be neither too high nor too low. If the estimate is too high, another shop with a lower bid will usually get the job. If too low, the profits may not be enough to cover the cost of repairs and the shop could lose money.

In most shops, a well-trained estimator makes an appraisal of vehicle damage and determines what must be done to repair the vehicle. This person must be well versed in how cars and trucks are made and be good with numbers, computers, and communicating with people.

Minor body damage requires that only a few parts be replaced or repaired before being refinished or painted. Minor damage is often due to a low speed fender bender in which two cars hit at low speed or one car runs into something. Such damage might be as minor as a tiny door ding that occurs when someone accidentally opens a car door into the side of another car, making a small paint chip.


Vehicle measurement helps determine the extent and direction of major damage. If the vehicle has been in a serious accident, vehicle measurement is often done to find out whether the frame/unibody has been forced out of alignment. Specialized measuring tools are used to measure across specific reference points on the vehicle to find out whether body damage exists.

Measurement systems are specialized tools and equipment that allow the technician to check for frame or body misalignment resulting from a collision. Various types of gauges and measuring devices can be used to compare body specifications to actual measurements taken from the damaged vehicle. The measurements will help determine what must be done to straighten any frame or body o the chains to force the frame or body in the opposite di- rection of the collision impact.


A panel is a large metal or plastic body part fender, hood, deck lid, or roof panel, for example. A vehicle body is made up of numerous panels welded, chemically bonded, or bolted together.

Panel replacement involves removing a panel or body part that is too badly damaged to be fixed. The new part has to be properly fit and fastened in place on the vehicle. This takes considerable skill.

Structural panel replacement involves welding a new panel in place of an old, damaged one. First, the badly damaged part is removed by drilling or grinding off its spot welds. Then the new parts are fitted into place while part locations are measured. Clamping pliers or self-taping screws are used to hold the new panel in place while welding. First, a welder is used to tack weld and fuse the part in place. Before final welding, measurements are again taken to make sure the new part is aligned properly.

Panel adjustment involves moving or shifting a part to properly align it with other parts or panels. Accurate adjustment of body assemblies, such as hoods, deck lids, and doors, is often made by the technician on a regular basis. For example, if a door is not adjusted correctly, it may be difficult to close or may rattle when the car is driven over rough roads. The poorly adjusted door might also leak air and water. Such failures by the technician are bound to cause customer complaints.


The vehicle's paint, or finish,performs two basic functionsit beautifies and it protects. Can you imagine what a car body would look like without paint? For a day or so, it would be the drab, steel gray of bare sheet metal. Then, as rusting eats into the metal, the body would turn an ugly, reddish brown. This degeneration, or oxidation, would continue until the body was solidly coated with rust.

The term paint generally refers to the visible topcoat. The most elementary painting system consists of a primer and final topcoat over the substrate (body surface mate- rial). This process can vary considerably and generally is more complex, as you will learn later

Refinishing, or repainting, involves the steps needed to properly restore the vehicles finish. Refinishing is a very important part of the auto repair process.

Damage caused by both minor and major accidents usually requires some painting. However, many older au- tomobiles are repainted to simply enhance their beauty. New and used-car dealers repaint automobiles to attract buyers. Sometimes an owner simply gets tired of looking at the same old color.

his is why you must sandwich a primecoat between the substrate (car body) and the topcoat. Primer- sealers also prevent any chemicals from bleeding through and showing in the topcoats of paint. The terms topcoat and colorcoat refer to the paint applied over the primer sealer coat. This usually consists of several thin coats of paint. The topcoat is the glamour coat because it features the eye-catching gloss. Basecoat/clearcoat paint systems use a colorcoat applied over the primer-sealer with a second layer of transparent clearcoat over the colorcoat. This is the most common paint system used today. The clear paint brings out the richness or shine of the underlying color and also protects it. The resulting gloss is superior to that of standard paint systems.

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