In nearly all of our blogs and social media content, we stress two important points: The importance of safe repair and the fact that not every auto body shop performs safe repairs. For us at Telesis Collision, we feel that this is one of these areas where you don’t know what you don’t know and it is why we make the effort to educate you, our customers.
In automobile manufacturing, and in auto body repair, we use the same type of welder. It is called a squeeze type resistance welder. With this type of welder, we are able to replicate the factory spot welds exactly, but only when the welder is properly maintained and the tips are kept clean.
The welder can still be used with dirty tips, but the welds are not guaranteed to be structurally sound. In a high volume or high production body shop, these welders get used all day long every day. So you can imagine many shops may neglect to stop and perform maintenance on these welders, especially when under the gun to perform repairs as fast as possible.
And just how important is a clean weld you ask? Well, just recently Subaru detected that it had a problem with one of its squeeze type resistance welders, and the welders were allowed to continue making bodies for a little over a week affecting nearly 2,000 cars.
Rather than re-weld your vehicle at a dealership, Subaru is offering to buy back the car regardless of condition or mileage. It is almost unprecedented for a manufacturer to buy back a whole car rather than fix it, so that tells you just how important a proper structural weld is.
As a potential customer of Telesis Collision Center, we want you to know that we are aware of the importance of an OEM structural weld, and we follow the manufacturer’s repair standards to a T, and that includes proper cleaning of the squeeze type resistance welders prior to welding your vehicle.
Recently, Subaru issued a recall affecting over 2,000 vehicles due to a faulty factory weld. This could cause the vehicles to not hold up as designed in the event of a crash since the overall structure is not as safe or strong as it should be.
Typically when a car manufacturer issues a recall, the dealer would repair the issue as the nearest dealership for free. However, because these poor welds were made by the robotic welder that wasn’t properly cleaned, it’s not as simple as taking it to a dealership for a quick fix. Subaru is actually offering to replace a vehicle instead of a repair it. According to Consumer Reports, “owners will have the option of exchanging their vehicle for a new one, having Subaru buy it back, or taking back their vehicle after it has been repaired at the factory.”
This problem, along with other incidents from 2018, has stressed the importance of proper repairs. Specifically, welding-related repairs. Subaru states that the spot-welder tip is cleaned and re-shaped by a dresser (grinding machine) during the manufacturing process. What could have caused the affected parts is the dresser might have been blocked by excess metal chips/powder, “…thus reducing the effectiveness of the welder.” (Subaru) Because this happened, the factory weld tips weren’t as clean as they should be.
How Common Is It?
It’s actually pretty common to see improperly prepared or selected welder tips as the reason why there are faulty squeeze-type resistance spot welds (such as the ones in the Subaru recall). What’s also incredibly common is just how many auto body repair shops used the welders on a daily basis but didn’t know how to properly maintain them. You would think with it being considered the “most abused” piece of equipment in a body shop that it would be treated with more care.
What’s interesting here is this is not an uncommon issue with welds. In fact, back in 2017, a panel of collision repair experts spoke about the importance of properly prepared welds in a Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) video. Despite welders being used on a daily basis, panelist and former SCRS chairman Barry Dorn talked about how body shop managers don’t regularly check on the condition of the tips. Nor do they know how frequently they should be replaced. Welding courses held by I-CAR had extremely low participation from technicians. Without proper training on not just the repair, but the tools used for the repair, more problems like the recent Subaru recall are bound to happen in auto body shops across the USA.
What Happens Next?
Despite its namesake of “grinding machine” as stated in the NHTSA recall, SCRS panelist Toby Chess stated that typical grinders aren’t enough to prepare tips. Simply checking to see if the tips are clean and there’s no build-up of excess metal chips or powder in the dresser also doesn’t suffice. An auto body shop will need to do more. Technicians are advised to use a fresh tip during any major repair and treat tips like they are any other consumable part in auto body repair. This keeps it clean and ensures the best quality repair every single time.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen as often as one would think. Many times, technicians will cut corners to perform faster repairs to meet insurance deadlines. It can also be because they’re not educated on the latest OEM repair procedures. These procedures are laid out by your car’s manufacturer to ensure your vehicle is being repaired exactly as the factory instructs. If some spot welds are missed by a body technician, the overall strength of the vehicle can be reduced. If this happens, your risk of injury in an accident significantly increases. This is why OEM procedures are laid out for technicians to follow so this doesn’t happen.
How Can You Be Sure Your Palmdale Auto Body Shop Performed A Proper Weld On Your Vehicle?
We at Telesis Collision Center are always looking at what is the latest in collision repair procedures and current recalls. There may be some information in this article that you may not understand. We do, and we are committed to helping you with any of your auto repair needs. This is what separates us from our competition.
We have been serving the Antelope Valley for nearly 25 years. At Telesis, each one of our technicians is I-CAR Gold Class certified and up-to-date on the latest OEM Repair procedures. We know that these repair procedures change frequently, and that’s why we are always checking what the most recent requirements are for your car.
Feel free to give us a call at (661)-952-4732. We look forward to hearing from you!Get Online Quote Free Estimate