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How correct words ensure efficient auto-body repair

Don Stec, Coachmaster, author photo, myoutdoorbuddy.com

t is important to use the correct words when describing a problem with your motor vehicle. Words used incorrectly may result in incorrect repairs. For example, many people do not use the word “New” properly. A new part is unused, factory fresh. It has never been installed on another vehicle. A “Used” part is a part that came off another vehicle, usually from a wrecked vehicle at a salvage yard. Used parts are also often identified as “Recycled” parts. This acknowledges it is a used part.

It is very common for owners to do partial repairs on their vehicles, only to discover the vehicle still has a problem. In one such case the owner said, he already put in a “new” steering gear and tie rods. He just needed a wheel alignment. Our inspection revealed the parts were used and the steering gear was worn out, as were other original parts. This involved phone calls and a waste of time explaining why the “new” parts were worn out.

The used part may be new to the owner’s vehicle but from a mechanic’s standpoint it is a used part and may have wear that is not consistent with the problem the owner has. It should be identified as “used” so a correct diagnosis of the vehicle’s problems (now at least two) can be made. When incorrect information is given it can result in longer analysis time and a larger bill to the vehicle owner.

Another vehicle was involved in a collision and brought to the shop. The owner said he slid off the roadway during a snow storm and wrecked the front suspension. The information I got from the Insurance Company was, the entire front suspension was “newly replaced”… but the vehicle didn’t steer properly. The insurance company asked us to inspect it. Our inspection revealed the entire suspension was not new because the parts were covered in old baked-on grease and dirt and every part showed excessive wear.

It was later explained the vehicle was in a remote area when the collision occurred. The local mechanic replaced the entire suspension from a used vehicle from a salvage yard. The parts may have been new to the vehicle but they were not new as interpreted by our estimator because of the incorrect use of the word “new.”

Because of a word incorrectly used there was a delay while the insurance company inspected the vehicle, then investigated if a fraud had been committed or a mistake made.

In this case the mechanic’s paper work did list “used” parts (from a wrecking yard.) There was not a fraud here but there was poor judgement by the mechanic and the vehicle owner. The parts he installed were extremely worn out. The owner authorized the repair and the repair was completed without insurance company oversight. (The insurance company would not have approved worn suspension parts to be installed.)

The problem now was the owner paid the mechanic and the owner wanted to be reimbursed. The insurance company did not want to pay for an improper repair, only to have to pay again to replace all the worn parts with new factory parts. The vehicle sat on the premises for several days. Eventually it was removed. I have no idea how the problem was resolved. I do know there was a great deal of inconvenience to all the people involved.

In conclusion: “New” means recently purchased from a part supplier and recently installed. It is not new if the part has been installed on the vehicle for a length of time.

Used is “Used” even if it came from a vehicle in which the part looks newer than the rest of the vehicle or has only been used a few hundred miles.

A large portion of our work is correcting improper repairs. It is much more difficult when other people have attempted repairs that did not solve the problem but instead have added another problem. It is one thing to look for natural wear or bent parts from an impact. It is much more time consuming to locate a problem when we do not have all the correct information.

Coachmaster is a full service collision repair facility, also specializing in the collision repair of RVs. We can be reached at 530-243-1310 or at the business at 6851 Eastside Road, Redding California.

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