Auto Body Welding: Look Before You Weld

Auto Body Welding: Look Before You Weld

Don’t just grab and go; are you looking up the OEM procedures before welding?

These days, we often hear, “This isn’t your father’s industry anymore,” when the topics of vehicle electronics and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) come up. But the phrase could also be used when referencing the mixed materials found in vehicles today.

Not So Simple

Even welding isn’t so simple anymore. Now, before you start the repair, you have to look up the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) repair procedures to know what type of metals the vehicle has and what type of welding (MIG brazing, squeeze-type resistance welding, etc.) is recommended (if it’s recommended at all — it might be rivets and adhesive). You won’t know unless you access those procedures.

Let’s look at the machine. You could have the latest and greatest welder, but it is only as effective as the person doing the welding. We trust our technicians because of their experience and training, but when was the last time you destructively tested their welds?

Trust But Verify

“Trust but verify” comes up a lot now too when it comes to ADAS, but it can also apply to the welding you do in your shop. The good news is that a recent survey conducted by Collision Advice indicated that 29% of shops are now being paid to set up and perform destructive weld testing “always” or “most of the time” by the eight largest national insurers — up from 12% in 2015.

But the reality is that, whether you’re paid or not, you should always destructively test your welds, as your customers’ lives may depend on it. You’re not just testing your tech’s skills but also whether the welding machine is working properly. We don’t need to go on a long dissertation about welder maintenance, do we? Also, when we get that sparkly new toy (the new spot welder, for example) that everyone wants to use, does the manufacturer offer training on that specific machine? Don’t just assume your guys will “figure it out.” Utilize the training that comes with the tool.

Metals of Today

Because the advanced metals of today —aluminum, high-strength steel, ultra-high-strength steel, etc. — are more sensitive to heat, automakers are recommending welding methods that control that heat. But each OEM has different recommendations. Don’t just assume that because Honda recommends one welding method, Ford will recommend the same. In some cases, they may recommend weld bonding or adhesive bonding. That is why you can’t just grab the nearest welder and go anymore. You have to have a repair blueprint that covers everything — including the welding — before you repair. Keep in mind too that the OEM recommendations change often; sensitive electronics have changed the game too now as they relate to how and where you weld a vehicle. The OEM is the authority now; it may even require a specific welding machine because of the capabilities it has, especially if you’re pursuing OEM certification. If you doubt that the OEM is the authority, two words come to mind: John Eagle.

The welding machines of today have gotten more technologically advanced and smarter; individual techs can program in their own personal settings now, if you have more than one tech who will be using the welder. This may give you a false sense of security that all is well — but training is still important.

Summary

There is so much more to welding today than in the past. Everything is changing. Keep up on your training and today’s vehicles to ensure you’re producing the best quality repair.

You May Also Like

New Welding Technology: Good or Bad?

Welding technology in the collision industry has advanced tremendously. But is the industry allowing techs to avoid the “why” in welding?

In the highly competitive automotive industry, change is inevitable. Manufacturers are challenged to meet new government standards in fuel economy as well as improve safety in their vehicle designs. Engineers consider many factors when developing materials to be used in the manufacture of their vehicles, including safety, fuel efficiency, manufacturability, durability, quality and environmental friendliness. 

Plastic Repair: A Solution to the Parts Shortage

If you can’t get parts, then it makes sense to repair them. So maybe it’s time to dust off the old plastic welder and two-part bumper repair adhesives.

Vehicle Structures: A Mixed Bag

By now, we all should know that vehicles today are made from an amalgam of different materials that require identification and research.

STRSW: From Terminology to Technique

Plug welding and spot welding are not the same, but many use these two terms as if they’re interchangeable.

Aluminum Panel Dent Repair: Training is the Key

For a complete, safe and quality repair, it’s important to understand the considerations involved with repairing aluminum.

Other Posts

Vehicle Scanning & Calibration Technology

Scan tools and calibration equipment have come a long way as far as ease of operation and ability to access the vehicle.

Welding on a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle

As more and more HEVs and EVs roll into your shop, there are considerations to take when welding.

Is Auto Glass Replacement Right For Your Auto Body Shop?

With ADAS features, required calibrations for auto glass and the variety of repairs currently being done in shops, glass seems an obvious fit to today’s business model.

Vehicle Calibrations and Mechanical Repairs

Whether you’re replacing a radiator or repairing collision damage, deviating from OEM requirements will make a shop a target for blame should something go wrong.