In my experience, the No. 1 reason for a vehicle not being delivered on time is usually something related to parts. I’m going to share some helpful websites that you might consider using to write a more accurate estimate.
This free website allows you to look at the same parts graphics as your Datsun/Nissan dealership by vehicle make and model. You’ll also gain access to part numbers, parts quantities, etc.
Once you register on this website, you gain access to all the same OEM parts diagrams that dealerships look at for Porsche, VW and Audi. You have to pay to join, but it’s well worth it.
Search for parts in the U.S. on this free site based on part numbers or descriptions. Can’t find a part to get the vehicle delivered on time? Use this site and then check with the paying party to see if they’ll pay the overnight or shipping costs.
This free site allows you to decode all BMW VIN numbers and also look at all of the same parts graphics a BMW dealership can with complete parts
This free site is Toyota’s factory website, and once you register, you can access and view the same parts diagrams as dealerships. In addition, you can actually place an order through the site, which is then processed through your local dealership. I highly encourage you to get your local Toyota dealership to install PartsBridge for you, which is a data pump that will scrub your estimates for VIN and
This site allows you to get radio codes directly from Honda or Acura when you need them after the power has been disconnected.
This site is pay-to-use only if you want to utilize its airbag software or determine what airbag or SRS system components require replacement. However, you can review airbag crash videos and research vehicle recall bulletins for free.
This site will give you information on child safety seat regulations.
This site gives you access to all of the OEMs’ websites. Most are pay-to-use; however, I’ve found that the domestic manufacturers offer their information for free. Register for free on Ford, Jeep, GM, etc. You have to pay for access to most of the European OEMs’ sites. About half of the Asian OEMs’ sites are free.
This site allows you to input a vehicle make and model and see all paint codes for that specific year as well as the color to determine color codes. It also has motorcycle and RV colors.
ALLDATA Collision is the single source for manufacturers’ auto collision repair information. It has features such as advanced easy search, “article pinning” where you can open multiple windows and keep procedures and diagrams available while working on the vehicle, and “YMME lookup” where you can quickly select vehicles by year, make, model and engine. You must pay for a subscription.
In addition to offering a collision estimating parts and labor database, Mitchell International also offers diagrams that show OEM vehicle dimensions and unibody and chassis dimensions for domestic and import vehicles.
For a free listing of more than 75 other websites, visit www.collisionadvice.com and go to the “Tools and Forms” section.
Write It Right
To also write it right, consider the following tips:
Utilize dual monitors when writing an estimate. Look at the estimating system on one screen and the OEM parts graphics on the other. It’ll make a world of difference.
Take a quick 3- to 5-minute video of all the broken parts with you narrating or explaining what you need and e-mail it to your parts vendor
Ask your parts vendor to set up a Skype account (it’s free) and use a webcam to transmit a live video feed to them showing them what parts
Take advantage of line notes on your estimate or on your parts order to send to your parts vendor. Make your estimate “tell a story.”
I hope you find the above websites helpful. Remember to check out www.collisionadvice.com under “Tools and Forms” to gain free access to over 70 websites you might find useful.
Mike Anderson is the former owner of Wagonwork Collision Centers in Alexandria, Va., and current owner of CollisionAdvice.com, a full-service collision consulting company. He’s also an executive facilitator for DuPont Performance Services as well as a facilitator for its Prestigious Business Council 20 Groups. He can be reached at [email protected] or (301) 535-3333.