IADA Explores Estimates and Appraisals Related to Automotive Refinishing

On June 30, the Independent Automotive Damage Appraisers Association (IADA) hosted its 12th monthly webinar, focused on the automotive refinishing process. AkzoNobel and CSAA Specialized Services delivered training to IADA members to keep them “refreshed and up-to-date on this integral part of the collision repair process,” according to Peter Sheehan, Jr., Executive Vice President of IADA. “Whether you worked in a body shop for years and need a refresher, or you’re new to the game and want a full rundown, it is essential for every appraiser to have a comprehensive understanding of the steps involved in every aspect of the collision repair process.”

“The webinar was phenomenal; our webinars get better and better every month, and this was no exception! We had in-depth presentations about the automotive refinishing process as it pertains to estimatics and appraisal, and we had a great group discussion about some of the complexities of that subject, such as the newly arriving “four stage paint” that we’re starting to see on some vehicles,” Sheehan said. “There was a terrific response to the event – since we started our webinar series IADA Presents last March, our audience has been rapidly growing. We have participation from both within IADA and our growing community outside the association, and it’s only going to get bigger from here!”

Ryan Brown, Western technical manager for AkzoNobel kicked things off with “Paintshop Basics,” an overview of the refinishing process. He began with the first step in the process after the vehicle arrives in the shop: reviewing the repair estimate, which includes ensuring all necessary repair procedures and parts are included, supplementing any missing parts or procedures, and reviewing and collecting unattached parts that may require refinishing, such as mirror covers and handles.

After cleaning the repair area, the third step is checking the body work to avoid reworks later, and then it’s “the perfect time to start our color-matching process,” according to Brown. “By doing the color-matching process early on in the repair, that allows us plenty of time to come up with a good solution if we have to order a special toner or anything that may be needed for that particular car. We don’t want to rush it – we don’t want to wait until the car is in the paint booth because, at this point, it’s too late.”

Brown explained the purpose of sanding the featheredge to “get it ready to accept primer and finish the repair out,” reminding attendees that a surface cleaning is necessary before moving on to the next steps of masking for primer and applying corrosion protection. Finally, primer is applied, and while he noted that this process varies by shop, depending on the products they spray, Brown said, “The same kind of processes follow with al of them; nothing really changes. It’s just how we cure them and how we handle them.”

Next, block sand the primer, and then, final sanding is needed to refine scratches from the previous process before preparing the adjacent blend panels. Brown noted, “Paint doesn’t stick to shine.” Surface cleaning is required yet again, followed by another round of masking to “keep overspray off the car [and] to keep dirt inside from reaching the painted surface outside. Make sure you have a nice tight seal around everything else.”

Plastic masking precedes painting, and Brown identified several steps in the painting process: surface clean and blow-tack, wet bed application, basecoat color application, and clearcoat application. Baking and polishing were the final steps identified in the refinishing process.

During the Q&A segment following Brown’s presentation, Brown pointed out that flaws in the refinishing process can result from temperatures and weather conditions in certain regions of the country. Sheehan agreed, “There’s a million different environmental factors that can come into play, so that really highlights these paint technicians’ skill levels, to achieve high-quality results despite all the things they deal with.”

Next, Scott Myers and Shannon Barber of CSAA Specialized Services discussed blending. “When refinishing a repaired panel, matching the new color to the existing color presents many challenges,” Barber began, “especially when spraying metallics and pearls in three and four stages. Blending is a technique used to fade the new color into the original color to give you the illusion of a perfect color match; however, the operation of blending which you would see on an estimate refers to when we’re refinishing an undamaged panel. This is usually necessary when the repair area is in close proximity to an adjacent undamaged panel.”

Asking when we blend into an undamaged panel, Barber listed three reasons:

  • The repair area is in close proximity to an undamaged panel,
  • The undamaged adjacent panel is on the same plane as the damaged panel, or
  • The paint has a pearl or metal flake in it. Solid colors are usually looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Explaining the differences between two, three and four stage paint processes, Myers said, “A lot of estimating systems have not recognized four stage yet. Different paint manufacturers even treat these differently, and sometimes, these four stages can be achieved in a three-stage process on a repaired panel.”

Myers explored roping and when it’s appropriate to use, providing examples and discussing several techniques. “The guys that do masking and paint prepping are some of the most skilled technicians you’ll ever find in a shop, and they all have their own special ways of doing it,” he stated, providing thoughts on the process before answering attendees questions. Sheehan closed the meeting by taking a moment to thank our guest presenters AkzoNobel and CSAA Specialized Services, and our sponsors of this event: LKQ, Oxford Millin Insurance, and ClaimLeader.

The meeting was the latest installment of IADA’s “In the Shop” series, which “focuses on providing information on the fundamentals of what’s going on providing information on the fundamentals of what’s going on day-to-day in repair facilities. A firm understanding of actual repair facility operations is one of the big things that separates a ‘photo and scope’ inspector from a true professional auto damage appraiser,” Sheehan shared his thoughts on the series. “The purpose of the series, like all our events, is to do everything we can to promote knowledge and skill among the auto damage appraisal profession.”

Sheehan has been continually surprised by the outpouring of support and interest in our educational efforts, including our webinars. People are hungry for this kind of educational content. People in our industry, particularly the independent professionals in our primary audience, WANT to improve themselves, improve their skills, keep up on the cutting edge of the industry, and be a part of a community of their fellow respected professionals. And I can’t speak to other industries, but in our ‘independent’ corner of the collision industry, there aren’t all that many options out there. There’s a lot of info out there for shops and insurance companies, but relatively few resources or supporting organizations exist for independent claims professionals.”

“That’s what IADA is all about – providing support, advocacy, and resources for all the folks out there without a big corporation or an employer behind them to provide guidance and resources for education and professional betterment,” Sheehan continued. “This year and in the future, IADA will focus on expanding our educational program, and though it only began in earnest last year, we’ve already been able to offer some really fantastic training courses, in addition to our monthly webinars. IADA actively works with our education partners to build a robust training catalogue, ranging from basic auto appraisal to more advanced subjects. IADA’s mission is to promote skill and knowledge throughout the auto damage appraiser profession, and we are making firm strides toward the best way to achieve that goal: ensuring that there are high quality, affordable education resources out there for our professional community.”

A recording is available on IADA’s YouTube channel.

For more information about IADA, visit iada.org.


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