Repair estimates can oftentimes be anywhere from a few dozen line items to hundreds of line items, so it wouldn’t be surprising if you missed one line item called “destructive weld testing.” You may be wondering why you would want anything with the word “destructive” near your vehicle you are trying to get repaired. In fact, this test is a crucial one you should look for on your repair estimate.
All too often, we take our cars to a body shop and trust that their staff is fully trained and won’t cut any corners when it comes to your safety. Unfortunately, not all body shops will perform a destructive weld test because it’s a time consuming process. These shops often are put under pressure from the insurance companies to get the repairs done faster and cheaper.
What is destructive weld testing and why do you need it?
Newer cars being produced are made with varying types of metals and steel. From high strength steel to aluminum none of these metals will interact the same when heat is applied which complicates things if you are trying to merge two differing metals. This of a destructive weld test as a practice run to see how your car’s metal and a new part will interact and hold up when welding them. It requires some different fine tuning of the weld machine to ensure the weld is accurate, precise and most importantly, consistent.
A truly experienced welder knows they need to dial in their welder in order to get a consistent, high quality weld on new parts. In order to achieve this they must perform destructive weld testing, where scrap materials are cut off the vehicle, and a few test welds are done. They will then perform both a “peel test” and a “twist test” where they will try and peel or twist away the metal to make sure the welds hold. Once the technician is satisfied with the weld, they can move on to your car and make as many welds as necessary on the new parts knowing that the welder is set up correctly.
This is a crucial step in protecting your car’s structural integrity. If this step is skipped, your car may no longer function the right way to protect you and your passengers in the event of another accident.
So, what does that mean for your car?
Without performing a destructive weld test, the technician has no sure way of knowing how those two different metals will react under heat and how they well they will form together. “Each welding machine manufacturer may have its own unique configurations and setup processes” (CCC P-pages) and the shop may have more than one brand of welder being shared among the staff. This makes it all that more important to perform a test to ensure the equipment is dialed in properly. Without this test, the shop could be doing more damage to your car and potentially risking your safety.
Why would a shop skip destructive weld testing if it is that crucial? As we already covered, some shops are under the gun by insurance companies to get cars in and out fast. Destructive weld testing is a time consuming process. It is also a “not-included procedure in all three estimating systems…” (Repairer Driven News). A less skilled estimator may not even know to put it as a line item on the estimate, and a high production shop may not include it as a way to cut costs for an insurer.
A shop should perform destructive weld testing not just for spot welding or MAG plug welding, but also for another common bonding procedure called weld bonding. This involves the use of intensely strong adhesives instead of melting metal. It is equally as important to do a test when using this method to ensure that the adhesive is correct and properly mixed. Since not all shops will perform the tests, it falls on you to research body shops and take your car to a reputable repair center.
A repair shop that takes the time to follow Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) repair processes and take the necessary steps like a destructive weld test will ensure your car is a safe as the day it was made. Here at Mid Island Collision Center we never skip steps and always follow the manufacturer repair procedures. We take safety very seriously so will always be your advocate to get the best most accurate repair.