Let’s get straight to the facts: there will never be a time where your vehicle’s damaged quarter panel can be replaced with a used quarter panel. Doing this will only give you an unsafe repair and can cause the advanced safety features your car is built with to longer work properly, along with a world of other problems. And yet, even with all that, many body shops will still replace the damaged quarter panel with a previously used one. These technicians put their faith in how long they’ve been repairing cars and will ignore the strict repair procedures laid out by your manufacturer, known as OEM repairs. Although there is no law requiring auto repair technicians to follow these procedures, they are designed to have your car correctly and safely repaired. Merely going on “experience” is no way to repair a vehicle, especially when it comes to complex repairs such as quarter panel replacements.
Additionally, technicians at these shops will cut corners in other parts of the repair process to keep the insurance companies happy, especially when an insurance company refuses to pay for certain critical repairs.
According to Vehicle Collision Experts CEO Mark Olson, “how the OEM built the vehicle and how you fix it might not be the same, and a repairer can’t assume that duplicating what they saw on the vehicle will work.”
A technician who “assumes” in the repair process is putting your life at risk. Quarter panel replacement is a necessary repair, especially for modern vehicles that are embedded with different technology. We at Mid Island Collision Center are here to tell you why we advise against used quarter panels in collision repair.
Approaching Repair On Quarter Panels
The Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM for short) of your vehicle has specific repair requirements for technicians to follow. OEM repairs for any car manufacturer would instruct a technician to use an entirely new panel, not a donor/used one, filled with existing weld nuggets from whatever vehicle it came from. Approaching this type of repair on quarter panels, a technician needs to go through the following checklist:
-What’s it made of?
-What’s it attached to?
-Attachment methods (such as remove and replace)?
-How do you remove the panel?
-Required tooling and equipment?
The Controversy Behind Quarter Panel Repairs
You may be wondering what the commotion is over quarter panel repairs? For starters, the IIHS considers this a “cosmetic” repair, even though quarter panels are vital to the overall structural integrity of your vehicle. Also, cars that are made out of metals beyond steel will often require welding (i.e., heat). If technicians replace the quarter panel on your car with a used quarter panel, the plug weld will be too big.
Olson also stated, “any holes drilled in a used quarter panel might be 10 mm, perhaps 10.5 after deburring. As the OEM wants only 8 mm plug welds, it’s officially impossible to deliver the repair with a used quarter panel.”
When it comes to collision repair and welds, bigger is not better. Some technicians might argue that bigger welds will never break if you get involved in another accident, but it’s not about that. It’s about repairing the vehicle exactly how the OEM said to do it.
What you may not realize is used quarter panels have been tempered with or heated multiple times in the welding process, more than you’d ever see on a new quarter panel. It doesn’t take a well-trained technician to see used quarter panels can’t provide the same level of safety a new quarter panel would.
Other Reasons Why Used Quarter Panels Won’t Work
As stated in Repairer Driven News, a second reason why used quarter panels wouldn’t work is because of the inability to follow OEM repair procedures. Repairer Driven News also stated, “…the idea of producing holes (such as spot welds on a quarter panel) outside of OEM tolerances also means the repair would be a nonstarter.”
A third reason would be due to something known as “work hardening.” What this means is some quarter panels are installed with rolled hem flanges that have eventually been work-hardened. This happens when the metal is unrolled and rerolled to the point where it can’t be rolled back out. It’s like twisting a paper clip over and over until eventually, it weakens, and the metal clip is destroyed. This is the process of work hardening on used quarter panels.
To learn more about what’s wrong with used quarter panels, check out this video from Collision Hub that goes in-depth about these repairs.
Who In New York Knows How To Perform Quarter Panel Repair The Right Way?
With how complex car repair has gotten over the past few years, it’s important you take your car somewhere that knows what it means to repair your car the right way by following OEM repair procedures. These repairs aren’t just to make sure your car is restored to pre-accident condition, but rather, ensure everything (including the advanced safety features) is working the way it’s designed to.
Here at Mid Island Collision Center, we are New York’s premier choice for collision repair. Not every autobody shop knows what it means to perform a quarter panel repair, but we do because we only perform repairs exactly as the manufacturer tells us. There is no shortcut to proper collision repair, no matter how experienced a technician or body shop might be.
We look forward to hearing from you!