The Year In Quotes: What the industry was talking about throughout 2019

 

compiled by John Yoswick

 

The challenges posed by advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and the need to follow OEM collision repair procedures, dominated much of the discussion within the industry in 2019, but other topics came to light as well.

 

Here’s our annual review of the past 12 months as reflected in some of the most important, interesting or entertaining quotes heard within the collision industry.

 

“There's too much information, too many specifications for them to remember and not confuse between brands when they're making a repair. Each brand has their own methodology, their own procedures and ways they want specific things done. For a technician to say: 'I'm going to fix this [brand of vehicle] today and that one tomorrow...but wait, what rivet was I supposed to use? What size? And where is that 4.2 mil drill bit I need to have?' It's going to be too much. The technicians are going to have to specialize.”

–Shawn Hart of Audi of America, on the increasing need for technicians to specialize

 

“The rules for ASE [test] questions are: It has to be broad-based. If it doesn't apply to every car, it can't be a question. It is getting impossible to write a question for an ASE test because of that exact reason.”

–Porsche's Mike Kukavica agreeing with Hart on vehicle complexity limiting the ability for a technician to know how to repair a broad variety of vehicles

 

“Because a scan has to go out and read every single controller, that vehicle with 50 controllers [versus one with 20] takes longer to scan. There's also some debate on what's included in the time to scan. Does it include time to research the diagnostic trouble codes, or is that a separate procedure? All that's being worked on. We are [working on it] and I'm sure the other information providers are as well. But I just wanted you to know that we get that it's an important issue, but also a pretty complicated one.”

–Jack Rozint of Mitchell International on the challenge for the estimating system providers to develop labor times for vehicle scanning

 

“Because if you put a windshield on a car and didn't recalibrate [a driver assistance system], and three years later somebody dies, you need to be able to go back to the record and find out what happened. My personal opinion is blockchain is going to be used so that every repair operation that happens to a vehicle can be tracked and stored for the life of the vehicle, so we can ensure the vehicle was correctly repaired. Because people's lives are at stake.”

–Mitchell's Rozint on the future of vehicle repair documentation

 

“I could see someone saying to a detailer, 'Hey, plug this in to whatever car you're working on, give [the data] back to me, and I'll give you $15.' That's not unrealistic, I don't think. I think you need to do what you can to try to prevent that.”

–Illinois attorney Patrick McGuire urging shops to take steps – such a check-out procedure for use of vehicle scanning tools - to protect the increasing amount of consumer data contained within vehicles

 

“It's as crooked as a dog's hind leg.”

–Jim Beck in 2018, promising to reduce insurers' influence over Georgia's Office of Insurance as he campaigned to lead that regulatory agency; after winning election, Beck this year was indicted for his alleged role in an elaborate scheme to steal $2 million from his former employer, the Georgia Underwriters Association

 

“But even if it did, would you rather have insurance rates go up, or would you rather have unsafe cars go back out on the road just so we can keep insurance rates down?”

–Ohio attorney Erica Eversman, a consumer liaison to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), responding to insurance regulators' questions about whether requiring insurers to pay for collision repairs based on OEM repair procedures would raise costs

 

“We need to make certain we make our priorities clear and we stick to that. Labor rates are a problem. I get that. But we need to start with safety, the OEM procedures. They get that. The insurance regulators understand safety. And there's no question that it's a consumer issue.”

–Eversman, on the need for the collision repair industry to take a unified approach with regulators, focusing on the OEM procedure issue rather than a number of other industry concerns

 

“It becomes easier to argue against when it gets muddied with other issues. Parts, as an example, have been debated and addressed in almost every state. When that enters into the discussion, it makes it much harder to move something forward. The trend I think this year is that states didn't isolate the [OEM procedure] issue. I think going forward it would be advantageous to do so. Address some of those other issues at a different time.”

–Aaron Schulenburg of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), agreeing with Eversman that too many proposed state laws related to use of OEM procedures failed because they attempted to address other issues as well

 

“Oregon courts do not require that a patient identify a broken bone before the patient can receive an x-ray.”

–from an appeal filed by Leif Hansen seeking to overturn a lower court's dismissal of his breach of contract lawsuit against his insurance company for its refusal to pay for a diagnostic scan for his 2017 pick-up after a collision

 

“From I-CAR on down, everyone says you have to follow the OEM repair procedures, and I completely agree. There is no substitute for following the vehicle manufacturer procedures. The challenge for us right now is getting our hands on them, and being able to navigate them. On average, it takes someone two hours to research [procedures] before they can ever start [repairs] on these modern complex vehicles.”

–Debbie Day of Mitchell International

 

“You would not pay for a scan when a warning light comes on and says, 'Catastrophic failure ahead unless you get this checked out'? You would just say, 'Come back and see us after you've had this fatal accident and then we'll see whether we need to repair this'? That's crazy.”

–a federal appeals court judge trying to pin down an attorney for Geico on when the company does and doesn't pay for vehicle scanning, during review of a lower court's dismissal of a potential class action lawsuit over the insurer's refusal to pay for a scan

 

“We're seeing that we can be anywhere from 20% to 30% lower in repair costs than your standard repair shop.”

–Alex Tsetsenekos of Tesla, explaining in mid-2019 why the automaker planned to open another 15 of its own body shops

 

 

“The ability to have the parts when and where they are needed is something that, quite frankly, other OEMs have a long track record of delivering. Part of it is their dealer networks. Part of it is they have just had years and years to develop that... We're hoping in 12 months to get [our] logistics capability up relative to our competitors.”

–Tesla's Tsetsenekos, acknowledged at an insurance industry conference that weaknesses in the automaker's parts logistics have contributed to delays and added costs to collision repairs

 

“There's an entire facility where all they do is break down the cars and simulate how are we going to [make a repair]. They will pull engineers out of the factory to come down and work with them. In three days, we will turn around a new procedure to fix something that you don't have an answer for. Within five days, we publish it to everyone who has access to our tools.”

–Tesla's Tsetsenekos, pledging to quickly develop any OEM repair procedures for its vehicles that collision repairers don't have

 

“Ultimately, we are choosing to focus on programs and services that are more directly aligned with our long-term, strategic vision for the organization.”

–from a written statement when NSF International in June announced it was discontinuing its certification programs for non-OEM parts, parts distributors, auto recyclers and collision repair shops

 

“I had a lot of faith in aftermarket scan tools until recently when I wasn't paying enough attention to what my techs were doing and we let a car go with two rear seat belt tensioners blown, with no warning light on the dash. When I went back to the [aftermarket tool] scan, it said the car wasn't equipped with rear seat belt tensioners. But when I scanned the car with the Honda tool, it immediately came up with both rear seat belt retractors blown...Aftermarket scan tools can be accurate, and they're certainly a lot quicker and cheaper. But the complete accuracy to protect your liability may not be there.”

–shop owner Tom Elder of Compact Kars in Clarksburg, N.J.

 

“We will see, five to 10 years from now, which one of us passes State Farm first.”

–Warren Buffet of Geico's parent company Berkshire Hathaway, commenting that he sees Progressive (not State Farm) as Geico's only true competitor, and foresees State Farm eventually losing its long-time status as having the largest market share of any U.S. auto insurer

 

“I told GM earlier this year when they asked me how I liked their [shop certification] program that I know of a group of shops that just pass the [required] welder around so they can get approved. That's horrible. Quit telling people when you are going to come inspect them, and limit the sale of parts to people who are doing it the right way. Until that happens, I don't think this situation is going to fix itself.”

–James Rodis, manager of Woodhouse Collision in Blair, Neb.,

 

“I don't have the room, even though I have a large shop, to put up all the targets and do all that. Fortunately, I have a Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Audi dealer within a mile or two of me. So they love us bringing those cars. It's helping us build a great rapport with them. They're sending us work like crazy. Three years ago we got rid of most of our DRPs, and with the OEM certifications [and dealer relationships], we're doing just fine.”

–Dave Carney, owner of Tualatin Auto Body in Tualatin, Ore., on one of the advantages of subletting vehicle system calibration work to dealerships

 

“Let's face it, that first notice of loss, when telematics become full-blown and the certified shop gets notice before the [insurance] carrier does, is going to change the game dramatically. If you sold the car and you get that first notice of loss before the carrier gets a chance to direct or steer it, you think that's not going to change things? I think the next few years are going to be transformational, and I think it's going to be pretty exciting.”

–Darren Huggins, national collision director for Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, which operates more than 30 dealership body shops

 

“When technicians go on a test drive with a scan tool, they are at risk. That is 'distracted driving.' So I really encourage shop owners to protect your technicians. Realistically [such test drives] may require two people.”

–Ray Fisher, executive director of the Automotive Service Association (ASA)

 

“Current law ensures safe repairs while maintaining a competitive market. This bill would increase the cost of auto insurance premiums by limiting the ability of insurers to negotiate what is reasonable in the repair process.”

–from a written statement by Republican Governor John Sununu of New Hampshire explaining why he vetoed a bill passed by state lawmakers there that would have required insurers to pay for claims based on the repairer's use of OEM repair procedures

 

“If PartsTrader was so awesome, it should be allowed to stand on its own, without anyone being forced to use it. Travelocity, eBay and other sites like them are awesome; we as consumers choose to use them because they add value for the user. PartsTrader doesn't add value to the shop. It adds considerable administrative time to the parts procurement process.”

–comment from an Oregon shop owner in responding to a CRASH Network survey of 244 current users of PartsTrader that found that two-thirds (66%) of those shops use PartsTrader only on jobs paid for by an insurer that requires PartsTrader

 

“We had calibrated it, and the [aftermarket] scan tool said we had done a successful calibration. Thankfully, our people were sharp enough to road test the car. The adaptive cruise control system did not [work]. [A dealer] found exactly the same thing: No fault codes, and it said it calibrated properly, but they road tested it and it still didn't behave properly. So [we] pulled the bumper off, started doing some close measurements, and found out the radar mounting bracket was tweaked. Not significantly, just a little bit, but that's all it takes. So in this case, it said it calibrated properly and said there were no fault codes. That emphasizes the importance of that road test.”

–Darrell Amberson of LaMettry's Collision, which operates 11 shops in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota

 

“I ask them, 'What's the criteria? When do you pay for it and when do you not?' Often, they struggle to answer that. For us to come up with standards on our own, by our own assumptions, frankly just doesn't make sense. When it comes to electronics, the only way to look at a system is through a scan tool. So under what circumstances do I look at it and when do I not? They struggle to answer that. So for our company, we have the philosophy that whether we get paid for it or not, we do a pre- and post-repair scan on every car. If nothing else, I can sleep at night by doing that.”

–Darrell Amberson of the Minnesota-based LaMettry's Collision chain, on trying to address when an insurer says that decisions about whether they pay for vehicle scanning are made on a “case-by-case basis”

 

“It was a Toyota van that was a handicap conversion. They had put in heavy-duty springs in the back of the vehicle. There was no data from Toyota in terms of how we should calibrate it. We reached out to the conversion company, and they admitted they just performed the conversion and didn't do anything about the ADAS. We found that situation scary and just stepped aside and didn't perform the repairs because there was no way we could know how to properly calibrate that vehicle. It was probably fixed by someone who probably didn't do anything with the ADAS systems.”

–Amberson, on his company's position that it won't release a car until calibrations are completed, even if that means declining to take in a particular job

 

“Prior to a crash, drivers can be easily distracted by an alert from a collision avoidance warning, and we feel this could be a growing problem in distraction-related vehicle crashes.”

–Jung Hyup Kim, an assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering at the University of Missouri, who is researching whether eye-tracking can help reduce instances of vehicle notifications that actually distract drivers who are already aware of a possible crash

 

“My vehicle now has a damage history on it as a result of an incident that never occurred. Somehow, someone is accessing this information from the desktops of our members' businesses. It's one thing if it's real [accident] data. It's another if it's false data, test estimates, maybe a shop owner having a new estimator go out and write a sheet, to 'show me what you can do,' and that sheet ends up on a damage history report.”

–SCRS' Schulenburg, after he had member shops prepare test estimates on his personal vehicle and that “incident” ended up on a vehicle history report

 

“We don't share data with CARFAX, never have shared data with CARFAX, have no intention of sharing data with CARFAX. So If you are writing an estimate in CCC ONE and it shows up on some customer's CARFAX report, you need to do some research on your end: who is pumping data from your system, or if one of your partners that you're sharing data with is sharing it with someone else.”

–Dan Risley, vice president of quality repair and market development for CCC Information Services

 

“You have to photograph the car in the bay, set up with the targets. Sometimes you can photograph the scan tool during the different steps. But if you properly document what the OEM tells you to do and you did, you will get paid. I have yet to be turned down. Sometimes it takes a couple steps up the ladder, but if you have the proper documentation, right from Audi, right from Honda, it's really hard for them to deny it. And when you ask them to deny it in writing, you get the go-ahead pretty quickly.”

–Sean Guthrie of Car Crafters Collision Centers in Albuquerque, N.M.

 

“This wasn't just a series of unfortunate events. This was something intentionally chosen to have been done to the vehicle that impacted everything that happened to us.”

–Marcia Seebachan, speaking at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC)) of a shop's decision to use adhesive rather than welding (as called for by the automaker) to repair a car in which Seebachan and her husband were severely injured in a subsequent accident, leading to their successful lawsuit against the shop

 

“This is really about human impact as a result of bad decisions. Every one of us in this industry is in a position to make decisions. Those decisions impact people and their vehicles and their families and their safety. So I think it's important that we start to think about the decisions we make, that we always consider those people who put their lives in our hands when we repair vehicles. We all, in every segment, have a role to play in these decisions.”

–CIC Chairman Jeff Peevy, following his onstage interview with the Seebachans at CIC in Las Vegas in November

 

“At our shop, we take the wire out of the welder after the repair. So when a tech pulls up the procedure, he has to start from square one and not make the assumption that the welding wire that's in the machine is for that job. It's a process you should instill in your shop, even though it might take a little extra time. They could be getting a poor weld because they're using the wrong material.”

–Kye Yeung of European Motor Car Works in Costa Mesa, Calif.

 

“Insurers thought they were becoming too powerful, having too much of a stronghold over them. So insurers didn't put much work their way. Now [the company] is looking to reduce the number of shops and just keep the key areas.”

–Shelley Cheshire, CEO at Repair Talks, a U.K.-based business networking platform, on the largest MSO in the U.K., scaling back its shop count based on insurers' perception of their growing market power

 

“The position statement is just to guide you to the repair information. If you pull up our service information, it doesn't say 'require' or 'recommend.' It is just our repair procedures, simply how we designed the car to be repaired if it is in a collision. If you're using just the position statement, you may get into that semantic argument with an insurance company. If you're using the actual repair procedures, that's no longer part of the conversation.”

–Scott Kaboos, chief collision repair instructor for American Honda, suggesting that shops concerned about whether OEM repair procedures are “recommended” or “required” should rely on the actual procedures rather than just on automaker position statements