For the majority of drivers, going to an auto body shop in Summit is a mysterious experience, a scary encounter with the unknown.
Once you hand over your key, you instantly feel uneasy; will your car be returned as good as new, or will the repair specialists do a shoddy job?
How will you know? How will you be able to figure out if you hard-earned money is just being tossed down the drain?
The best way to know if you are receiving excellent service and professional care is to find a reputable Summit Auto Body shop and then build a relationship with that shop.
However, most people who take their vehicles in to the Auto Body Shop are doing so for the first time. So, how do you know whether or not you can trust an auto body shop?
First of all, it is important to know that most auto body shops are reputable businesses. The majority of Summit Auto Body owners are just struggling to make a living like most small business owners – they want to do a great job on your car so you will return or refer others to their shop.
However, there are a few bad apples that spoil the whole bunch, and you need to be diligent when selecting a shop.
The first thing to do is get a referral or locate a shop online using reviews and testimonials.
What makes auto body shops so difficult to heat during the cold season? To shop owners, the answer is obvious. Auto body shops are characteristically dusty, breezy, high heat-loss environments. To make the indoor air more breathable and safe for workers, fresh air must be introduced through use of exhaust fans and/or raising overhead doors to help dissipate and eliminate contaminants. The problem is, as contaminants are pulled out, so is the heated air. Seemingly a "no win" scenario right?
So what's the most effective and efficient way to heat body shops?
Answer: Infrared radiant tube heaters.
To help answer that question, let's review what "infrared" is and how it works.
Infrared (IR) is electromagnetic wave energy that travels at the speed of light until it strikes an object. Upon striking an object, the IR energy converts to heat and is either reflected or absorbed. Dark and opaque objects (i.e. asphalt, concrete, etc.) readily absorb radiant IR heat energy, whereas highly reflective objects such as chrome and polished aluminum are poor absorbers and tend to reflect that energy away.
The most familiar IR emitter (heater) is our own sun. The sun radiates its IR energy through our atmosphere to the earth's surface, uninhibited by wind. As the earth's surface absorbs that energy, our air becomes warm.
During our North American winters the sun's rays are less dense due to the angle of the sun in the sky and our air temperatures are much cooler. But by summer solstice the sun's rays are at their peak angle and absorption is at its highest, resulting in warmer air temperatures.
Why use infrared tube heaters for your body shop?
1) Ceiling suspended infrared tube heaters mimic the warmth of the sun by warming up tools, machinery, floors and people directly, thereby warming the air indirectly.
2) Unlike forced air heaters, infrared tube heaters do not blow air throughout the space. That's a big plus in body shops where dust in painting areas is a problem.
3) Quicker heat recovery. As infrared energy absorbs into floors, tools, vehicles, etc., heat is recovered much more quickly when overhead doors are opened and closed again or when exhaust fans are cycled on and off periodically. That's because surfaces in the direct path of the infrared rays become a "heat sink". In other words, stored heat in objects re-radiates to warm the surrounding air.
4) Energy efficiency - an infrared tube heating system can save as much as 50% or more in fuel savings compared to conventional forced air. This is especially true in body shops where air exchanges are very high.
5) Infrared heaters can increase production. A carefully designed infrared tube heating system can be used to decrease drying times and enhance paint job quality. Placing vehicles in the path of infrared radiation warms cold metal surfaces. Paint applied to warm metal surfaces is less likely to run or drip than when applied to cold surfaces. And because infrared heaters don't move air around, there is less opportunity for dust particles to mix with newly applied paint.
We should note that gas infrared tube heaters are NOT to be used inside paint booths or paint mixing rooms. Tube heater emitters can reach 900 to 1100 Degrees F, well above the flash point of solvent-based primers and sprays. Spraying should be contained in a designated paint room with a filter bank and exhaust system to carry away potentially explosive fumes. Once spraying is done and the booth is ventilated with fresh air, vehicles and components can then be moved out of the spray booth to an isolated drying area where the infrared heaters are located.
Are some infrared tube heaters better than others for heating body shops?
That's where you need to do a bit of homework. A thorough review of the various infrared tube heater manufacturers can turn up some surprising differences between brands and product offerings. In your search, ask about burner design (are controls isolated from the air stream? They should be.), emitter tubing (heat-treated aluminized or cheaper hot-rolled steel?), reflector efficiency (50% efficient or 100%), and warranty (10 years is better than 5 years).
Create a list and call each shop to see how well you are treated on the phone.
Select three or four shops that sound good and are in close proximity to your location, and you are ready to take your vehicle in for an estimate.
You should get at least three estimates from three different shops.
The estimate may vary because Auto Body Shops may use different estimating software, but they should all be in the same ballpark. If an estimate differs by a great deal, you should ask why.
The body shop expert should be able to explain all prices on the estimate, including all price quotes and labor charges.
When you get the estimate, you should also be evaluating the Auto Body customer service:
How quickly were you acknowledged?
How efficiently were you helped?
Were all members of the staff polite and friendly?
Did the staff seem knowledgeable?
Be observant during the estimate and you will have a good idea of how you will be treated during the entire repair process.
If the customer service seems lacking, move on to the next place even if the estimate seems reasonable.
If you decide to leave your car, and the shop contacts you later to tell you about additional charges, this may be a sign that it is not a reputable and honest repair facility.
Though additional charges can happen occasionally, it is not a common practice for a reputable shop.
If you do your homework, have some patience, and get a few estimate, the odds are good that you will find a reputable auto body shop.
Once you have found one, it helps to direct all your business to them, and refer them to others.
If you do this, you will have established a good relationship, and you will no longer need to worry about finding an honest auto body shop.
The Results Are In – Who Do You Think is the Best Summit Auto Body in the Area?
>> I'm Chad.
I'm a second-year student here at DCTC.
I've been an apprentice at ABRA inBloomington for just about a year, now.
Doing some frame damage,here, repair on a 2005 Ford.
Three door, got hit here,and this here was the main impact.
We've already cut the reinforcementand impact bar off.
Now, we're going to be pulling onthis frame here, to get it straight, using the three-dimensionalmeasurement system to make sure that everything else is inline where it should be.
>> I'm Gerry Rainford.
I'm a second-year instructor here,at Dakota County Technical College.
Chad's a typical second-year student, wherewe get into different levels of repair needs, from just simple door repair to, well, you cansee here, is a full unibody reconstruction.
Mechanical aspects, as well.
Getting into the air conditioning andother mechanical systems on the vehicle.
This is kind of the way that once we havethe vehicle anchored on our frame rack.
We come through and we can actually do pull out.
We're going to be doing a light pull,this morning on the unibody structure.
We're going to see if we can't repair the rails.
Typically, when they're kinked to thispoint, we would do a replacement procedure.
But we're going to see ifwe can't repair them, today.
So, we'll just kind of talk as we go through it.
And we'll see if we can getthe rails to come out.
So, Chad, please take over from here.
>> All right.
I'm going to be using these towers, here, thatare capable of pulling 10,000 pounds apiece.
Try to get this mash come outon this left frame rail, here.
>> So, once again.
We're going to be pulling at a constantlevel that's going to be straight out, to try to replace the height, thelength, and width of the rail.
So, we're going to keep the directionstraight and at a straight pulling distance.
>> And all I'm doing here, now, is justwatching as I'm pulling, going slowly to find out how the metal's going to react.
Everything reacts different,not any accident is the same.
Everything needs to be takenon with a different viewpoint.
What I'm going to do now, isjust hit this metal, here, to try to relieve some of this stress.
[ Hammering Sound ] And always while you're pulling,what you're going to want to do is check your anchoring points, again, tomake sure that the car is not going anywhere.
Make sure all your chainsand clamps are still tight.
As you'll notice, I'm staying above,not standing behind these chains, just in case anything would happen to let go.
[ Hammering Sound ] >> Let's work the backside of the railthrough here a little bit, as well.
[ Hammering Sound ] [inaudible] target.
One of the things we don't want to do, is we don't want to do additionaldamage as we're pulling.
Looks like we're pulling morefrom the bottom of the rail.
>> Than we are from the top.
So, at this point in time, I think we shouldstop, rehook, and grab a hold of the top of the clamp support and pullmore on the top of this rail.
>> All right.
Both these dozers here are run by the same pump.
So, as I pull it's going to pull them equally.
Let's get some pressure on there.
[ Inaudible Comments ] [ Hammering Sound ] >> Just trying to relieve this stress.
Move the metal where I want it.
>> So, let's get a couple ofhits with this on the backside.
[ Hammering Sound ] Right now, we're concernedwith overpulling on it.
And so, I think we're going to stop.
And we're going to regrab ontothe rail at a different location.
Once you've overpulled and it distortsthe rail, then we've got an issue.
>> We're going to cut this outsideof this rail, here off, this cap.
Just a piece of the sheet seal,here, out of high strength steel.
We're going to pull this out here, sothat way we can get inside here, too, and make proper welds and getthis metal straight, again.
I'm just going to be countered along,drill out these spot welds, here.
And then, cut it here at the seam.
I'll run a line, section it out.
>> Why don't you show them how we know how farwe need to pull by using the measuring system? Then, to explain the measuringsystem, real quick? >> All right.
As we pull out on this stuff here, toget this rail out to where it should be, these targets here measure with this beamunderneath the vehicle, measures the vehicle at all kinds of different points.
Four in the middle of the vehicle, twoat the rear of the vehicle, and then, these here in the front closest to the damage.
This vehicle, this chart here for thevehicle is specific for this vehicle.
What this does here, is it hangs targets fromthe vehicle at specific manufacturing locations.
It measures the vehicle throughout there.
You can tell that our centersection here, is good.
And the back of the vehicle is good.
But up here, we're dealing with offmeasurements on the front end from the impact.
>> We're going to take and when we getthe rails pulled back into a location by the manufacturer's specifications, we'lltake, we'll hammer and dolly all this straight.
And we'll take, we've got new components.
We've got a new reinforcement barthat we'll be welding into place, to replace the structure of the vehicle.
But we'll come through, replace the.
You want to come around over here.
You can see that the radiator condenserhas been damaged in this accident.
And it's completely, we've lost all the Freon.
So, we'll be doing an R and Rprocedure on the condenser assembly.
Then, we're going to evac andrecharge the air conditioning system.
And then, move forward with the restof the mechanical repairs at this time.
In some situations, when you getcomposite intake manifolds, like this, components can come back and dodamage to the intake manifolds, starters, alternators, AC compressors.
We have additional damage deeper in the vehicle.
And this one, we've simplygot a condenser to replace.
What's so, how long will ittake you to do this repair? >> This repair here, will take me probablyabout two weeks to finish, to complete.
Done quite a bit already.
Already had all my parts ordered.
Those have already been checkedin and identified, and made sure that they are the rightparts, so I'm not scrambling at the end of the project to find the correct parts.
I'd say about two weeks; two to three weekswould be a good timeline for this vehicle.
>> Well, thank you, Chad.
I appreciate it, taking your time withthe students and this is what we do here at Dakota County Technical College.
It's a two-year program.
We try to get you ready with the latesttechnology and the latest equipment to make sure that they're ready for the industry.
And so, they can be productive and profitablein today's unibody reconstruction world.
Thanks, very much.
Secrets of the Auto Body Shop
Without knowing what to look for, choosing a quality auto body shop is tough. It's important to select the right auto shop to ensure the vehicle is fixed correctly the first time. It's also the best way to make sure the shop is honest and reliable. There are many important features of a good shop, including an experienced staff and certifications. It can also help to read customer reviews before making a selection.
A Certified Shop
A good body shop is certified by the largest auto organization. Facilities that gain the approval of the organization have proven their abilities as certification is often a lengthy process. To become approved, an auto shop must demonstrate it has the latest equipment, qualified technicians and a proper facility. It must also show it offers above average training to its employees. Larger associations always collect feedback from prior customers as well before issuing an approval. Auto shops can also receive certification from parts manufacturers and organizations like Autobody Alliance, which requires the shop to meet certain qualifications.
Qualified and Experienced Staff
A good auto body shop has qualified staff with a number of certifications. Certification from ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) is especially important. ASE is a non-profit organization that offers certifications to automobile technicians that show proficiency in their trade. Technicians may also have certification from car manufacturers like GM, Chrysler, Toyota and Nissan, showing their knowledge and experience dealing with particular car brands. Some auto technicians also receive aftermarket training from Bendix, Moog, or NAPA. Most training requires a great deal of knowledge and experience and demonstrates a technician is a professional in their field.
Positive Customer Reviews
When possible, former clients should be consulted about their experience with the shop. Some resources to find reviews are online, making it easy to decide if a body shop has good feedback from the public. Reviews should mention that the vehicle was fixed properly the first time and work was completed in a timely fashion. Positive reviews should also discuss whether a warranty was offered by the body shop and if the facility was clean and orderly. A facility that has the approval of a large automobile association has shown a history of positive feedback from customers, although it's always a good idea to check into a shop as much as possible.
Accepts All Insurance
Another important aspect of a good body shop is its acceptance of all forms on insurance. An auto body shop that accepts all insurance providers demonstrates it has experience working with insurance companies to settle claims quickly. A shop that is hesitant to accept major insurance providers is a red flag that something may be wrong. This is also a matter of convenience and makes it easier for the vehicle owner to select a shop they feel comfortable with.
Selecting the right auto body shop requires a bit of patience and consideration. For example, choosing the first shop available can be a disaster if the employees aren't trained properly. A good auto shop is clean and up-to-date with a friendly and knowledgeable staff. The shop should have positive reviews and a range of certifications for both the facility and technicians. It should also accept all forms of insurance, making repairs easy and convenient.