CARSTAR celebrated Earth Day on April 22, 2022, by showcasing CARSTAR owners who lead the industry in “green” repair practices.
In the Bay Area, hybrid and electric vehicles are as common as cable cars and tech moguls, but that doesn’t mean there are just as many qualified collision repair facilities ready to restore them after a collision.
Jason Wong, a multi-store CARSTAR owner with locations throughout San Francisco, says being a “green” repair facility requires much more than just hanging a “We Recycle” sign in the shop. It demands advanced training, technology, tools — and a commitment to continual learning.
“Repairing electric vehicles requires many more safety precautions due to the high-voltage systems that power them,” says Wong. “You have to have a thorough safety plan in place to protect your team members and the vehicle. And, you need special education and tooling like high-voltage gloves, insulated tools and a battery charging station.”
Wong bought a Tesla several years ago so he could see through the customer’s eyes when his facilities began repairing electric vehicles. He has used his car to educate team members about the differences between electric and gasoline-powered vehicles.
“Many electric and hybrid vehicle owners don’t think about being in an accident, therefore they don’t have a repair plan in mind if one occurs,” Wong says. “But if you drive in San Francisco traffic, there are ample opportunities for a fender bender to happen.”
Wong recommends that hybrid and electric vehicle owners research collision repair locations that specialize in these complex vehicles before taking their car to just any body shop.
“Look for facilities that are certified by the vehicle manufacturer in their specific repair processes,” says Wong. “That means they have the correct tools and training to restore your vehicle to pre-accident condition. They will also have access to original equipment manufacturer parts, which are important in these repairs. Also, inquire at the facilities you are considering if they are ASE-certified in hybrid and electric vehicle repairs.”
Wong credits CARSTAR with providing the guidance and resources to help develop his hybrid and electric vehicle repair program.
“The team at CARSTAR helped us determine what was needed to repair the primary makes and models we see on the road today and earn the OEM certifications for each one. They also provide the training and education needed to keep our team members up-to-speed on this quickly changing technology. Today, we have dedicated hybrid and electric vehicle repair areas in our locations to handle the growing demand for these vehicles.”
While hybrid and electric vehicles do have lower maintenance and operating costs due to no engine maintenance or oil changes, limited brake wear and less wear on parts, Wong notes that collision repairs for these vehicles are complex.
“An electric vehicle requires a completely different disassembly process and repair procedures as you work around the high-voltage battery,” says Wong. “Many times, we are replacing panels with OEM parts rather than repairing them to maintain the integrity of the vehicle. It also requires thorough pre-and post-repair scanning to ensure all of the vehicle technology is performing correctly.”