We sometimes will get a new Mercedes-Benz vehicle in the shop. Do we have to be certified to attempt repairs on it?
Question answered by Jason Stahl, editor of BodyShop Business, and Gary Wano, executive vice president of G.W. & Son Auto Body in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Jason Stahl: The answer is no, technically you don't have to be a certified Mercedes-Benz shop to repair new Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The Mercedes police aren't going to come by and bust you. But…you would be a fool to try if you haven't had any training or don't have access to Mercedes-Benz repair recommendations. You open yourself up to a whole lot of liability if you lay a finger on the car prior to referencing the recommended procedures via the automaker. Chances are the vehicle has numerous advanced metals in it that are sensitive to heat that require spot welding (or perhaps a combination of welding and adhesive bonding, or just adhesive bonding; check the Mercedes-Benz repair procedures), not to mention sophisticated electronics that you could mess up if you're not careful. Unfortunately, many shops that are not qualified to repair Mercedes-Benz vehicles attempt to do so, screwing up the car, potentially endangering people and most definitely pissing those people off, and forcing another shop to attempt a re-repair.
Gary Wano: There is nothing that will prohibit anyone from repairing new Mercedes-Benz vehicles, UNLESS they're one of the new models that incorporate aluminum substructure design. Due to engineering specs requiring 9606-2 aircraft aluminum welding certification and a greater understanding of repairability per Mercedes-Benz design, it's my understanding that Mercedes-Benz is going to require this certification and Mercedes-Benz training before releasing specific aluminum structural replacement parts.
I am of the belief that every vehicle owner should have a choice in who repairs their automobile, but when it comes to tried and true aluminum structural repairs backed by millions of dollars of R&D, process updates and crash tests, an untrained facility can do nothing but produce an unsafe repair.
I agree you would have to be a fool to try repairing late-model Mercedes-Benz products without the proper equipment and training. There are several complex repair procedures, even on steel body vehicles, that need to be performed so that pre-engineered crash resistance is restored. Repairers beware if a secondary incident occurs and the Mercedes-Benz crash avoidance system, passive restraint system or the ill-repaired area fails and an occupant becomes injured! Remember, Mercedes-Benz has supporting data on how a properly repaired auto reacts in a crash. This data will help a shop if the repair was right, but it could bury a shop that didn't follow the procedures.