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Tag Archives: car body repair

Tip 9. How to grow Bodyshop revenues by providing vehicle undercarriage protection ?

I have to admit that these tips series for Etalon Refinish Blog is my favorite. I am happy with idea that a bodyshop somewhere could earn extra buck by offering profitable and beneficial to customers services. The key is to identify untapped demand for additional services, other than common auto body refinishing jobs. In this post I suggest yet another potential earner – application of anticorrosive and sound-deadening coatings.

Who needs undercarriage protection?

In fact, most of the car owners need this service, depending on the climate, vehicle age and road conditions in the area. I would identify the following vehicles as potential market for underbody treatment:

– All vehicles in areas with harsh winters.

Snowy weather

If your bodyshop is located in the climate zone with heavy snowfalls and low temperatures, most certainly the roads in the region will be treated with special snow-melting agents or salt. Those agents and salt virtually ruin underbody surfaces exposing them to air-induced corrosion.

– All vehicles in the areas close to the sea.

In the regions close to the sea or ocean, the air is very humid and enriched with salty water, which corrode even well-protected new vehicles within a few months.

– Vehicles, which are driven in the rural areas and regions with poor road conditions. Most common problem in such areas is rust starting from stone chips.

– Older vehicles (five years and older) with high mileage usually incur rust spots on undercarriage surfaces

– Vehicles for resale. It is a well-known fact that a potential buyer most probably would like to check the vehicle’s underbody condition. Rust will be a big turn off, and, therefore, the value of the vehicle will be significantly lower.

– Old-timers. Vintage vehicles are subject of pride for its owners. However, those cars are in need of frequent inspection for corrosion, and underbody protection is necessary for those vehicles.

 Salt on the road

What about OEM anti-corrosion warranty?

The common misconception about the newly acquired vehicles is that they are fully protected and covered by anti-corrosion warranty. Unfortunately, most of the car owners do not pay attention to the warranty exemptions and terms. In fact, most of the OEMs refer to anti-perforation warranty, which covers in reality only, holes caused from corrosion inside out the part, and strictly under the condition that a yearly anti-corrosion inspection is performed by authorized repairer. The cost of the inspection will be chargeable to the vehicle owner.  So, if you forgot to take your car for such an inspection, forget about warranty. In addition, the rust caused by outside parameters like salt or stone chips will not be covered. Below you can find a typical exclusion case from a big car brand:

“The exhaust system, petrol tank, mechanical components or corrosion on or originating from exterior surfaces, including seam corrosion or damage caused by stone chipping, scratches, abrasion or paint failure. Exterior paintwork damage is readily visible and should immediately be rectified by the user”

 

What type of materials to choose?

I would distinguish to main categories of underbody coatings: stone chip protection and sound-deadening.

ETUC-1000BSound-deadening Etalon

Stone chip protective coatings could be water-based or solvent-based. These coatings are usually sprayed with UBC gun, but you can also find them in aerosol sprays. Typically black, grey and white colours are available.

Sound-deadening coatings are of higher viscosity. Usually this coating is applied by brush or roll in thicker layers to achieve better sound-deadening properties. Also, if diluted, sound-deadener can be sprayed.

What is very important in every type of underbody jobs – proper surface cleaning. It is strongly recommended to follow the material’s technical data sheets for proper application techniques.

 underbody coating

How to market your offering?

First of all, you need to identify the target market. Owners of the relatively new vehicles are less inclined to pay for extra protection of their vehicles. It would be wise to prepare a short informative leaflet explaining all the pitfalls of OEM anti-corrosion warranty.

Secondly, if the you have the vehicle for a body repair paint job, take time to examine the vehicles places prone to be affected by rust. In case you spot rust or paint bubbles, take pictures. Nothing will be the better argument than a visual proof of the undercarriage poor condition.

Third, ask a customer if he is happy with his vehicle’s sound proof condition? Apparently, there are many vehicles, especially in smaller categories, which have very poor soundproofing.

Finally, have some photos or even better videos of the application process and treated surfaces conditions before and after underbody coating has been applied.

 

Be a craftsman, not just a guy who paints cars!

craft

Have you ever thought why some, at first glance, ordinary bodyshops never lack customers, while some others struggle? Well, there could be too many reasons for that, you could say. Nevertheless, putting aside external factors, it is down to the owner of a place or the painter, whether he or she will succeed or not. Apparently not all professionals in the industry were born equal, just like in any other business, be it a gardener, a carpenter or a baker. Car paint sprayer’s success depends on the perceived value customers assign to his job. This perceived value depends on painter’s attitude to his job, experience and, very importantly, reputation. In Etalon we call a car painter with high perceived value – the craftsman. Why is this important? Well, usually the real craftsmen prosper. They are respected and are very well paid.

So, what are the characteristics, which distinguish craftsman in car refinishing business?

I came up with ten:

  1. A real craftsman will never skip steps in repair process. Whether he repairs his brother’s car or complete stranger’s one, the quality of the job will not change. This car sprayer will make sure that the repair will be invisible, clearcoat will be blended properly, seam sealer will be applied just like in OEM, body will be properly protected from corrosion. The vehicle is handed clean. Most of the customers will never know or understand these steps, but for craftsman it doesn’t matter. All that matters to him is that fulfilling feeling of satisfaction after a properly done job.
  1. He provides a warranty on his job. No “ifs”, no poor excuses, no blames on a third party and materials, no “small letters” behind. Period.
  1. He is a good payer. All his suppliers are happy and fight to get his business.
  1. He is paid well. In order to be a good payer, you must be paid on time by the customers. A true craftsman won’t work on ridiculous payment terms imposed on him.
  1. He charges fair prices. A craftsman is never cheap, but he is not overpricing either. Competition is irrelevant.
  1. A real craftsman is the Boss in his shop. Neither customers, nor insurance companies, or suppliers would tell him what to do.
  1. His bodyshop is neat, tidy and ergonomic. A craftsman’s place may not be fancy with luxurious reception and all the dust is in the customers’ eyes, but it is appropriate.
  1. A true craftsman has his tools in tiptop condition. Spray guns are clean, always in place, spray booth is tidy, mixing room reminds a surgery room. And don’t you dare touch this special edition spray gun!
  1. Real craftsman knows how to choose materials he works with. Paint, clear or any other consumable he chooses solely on its performance, not on the price or brand alone. He has his own opinion based on tests and experience. No use of sales pitching.
  1. Finally, a real craftsman shares his knowledge with apprentices, he teaches and guides the new generation through the maze of refinishing craft, helping them to avoid mistakes and pitfalls. He will be called “master” or “teacher” by his successors.

And what is your definition of a car refinish craftsman?

Etalon – a real craftsmen’s label.

11 steps a healthy paint sprayer never overlooks

It has always astonished me how many articles, white papers, presentations and videos have been made about spraying techniques and correct usage of refinishing materials in a bodyshop. On the other hand, I still don’t understand why so little is said or written on painters’ health-related issues. Simply Google about this subject, and you will find just a few quality articles. While the majority of the information comes from the government organizations, written in a rather incomprehensible manner.

From my point of view, the lack of coherent information reveals the ignorance all paint suppliers show towards their products’ end users. Whether we like it or not, but spraying automotive coatings, especially 2K materials is very dangerous for health. Asthma, breathing problems, allergies, fatigue, weakened immune systems, isocyanate poisoning and  dermatitis are among numerous health problems that a car painter faces throughout his career. Nevertheless, in contemporary world, if properly trained and informed, the collision repair professional can avoid all of the above-mentioned dangers by following certain steps every single day.

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Personal protection equipment

  1. A health conscious painter always uses respiratory protection while painting. Supplied-air respirators are the most effective to protect a sprayer from isocyanates, which all 2K urethane coatings contain. Half-masks with A1 or even better with A2 protection level are second best choice. The problem with visors is that many sprayers find them bulky, with limited visibility, yet it is all about your habits and getting used to it. Simply push yourself and in a couple of weeks you will easily sleep in it.
  2. A responsible sprayer always uses safety glasses while he is painting. Droplets of base or clear coat may easily penetrate through eyes causing irritation and sight problems (supplied-air visor protects eyes anyway, thus one more reason to use it).
  3. An educated painter on every occasion wears protective overalls, preferably category III, type 5 or 6. There should be no exposed skin in a spray booth.
  4. A professional painter uses nitrile gloves when mixing or spraying paint. Nitrile is the only affordable material to withstand solvents and isocyanates. Note that cheaper latex gloves do not provide adequate protection!
  5. An experienced sprayer wears disposable masks throughout the preparation process. Filler dust and other aerial particles have no place in your lungs!

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Equipment maintenance for healthy working environment

  1. A serious-minded collision repair professional keeps a spray booth well-maintained and filters clean. Without mentioning quality problems when the spray booth filters are loaded up, by failing to keep them clean, you do not have enough air flow. As a result paint overspray is not exhausted as it is designed by spray booth engineers.
  2. A serious car body sprayer keeps his equipment in uttermost condition, because a spray gun with excessive overspray or a sanding machine with high noise and vibration levels do not help to keep the working place safer.

No-nonsense tips on personal well-being

  1. Take a real break for lunch, so that you have the possibility to eat decent food. Many of us just grab a sandwich and drink plenty of coffee, while overeating in the evenings. Bad habit for health, especially for those who struggle with the bodyweight.
  2. Drink a lot of water. Physical work, going in and out of spray booth dehydrate your body. Plain bottled water or water from the cooler is an inexpensive way to stay healthy.
  3. Visit regularly your family doctor or physician. Let her know the hurdles of your work. Frequent blood tests, screening your liver and lungs are the best ways to prevent serious chronic illnesses.
  4. Exercise and keep fit. I know that being a car painter is physically demanding job, however a lower intensity exercises like cycling, jogging or walking will help you recover. Stretching and yoga are very good for professions where you spend a long time in one body position.

 

healthy-habitstop-10-healthy-habits-1036632-flash

The above list is not all-inclusive, of course. To stay healthy for yourself and your family requires discipline and good habits. Remember that there is nothing in this world more precious than your health. Take care of yourself!

Why thinner is no good for surface cleaning before painting?

By Alexandros Aslamazis

Some of you may be even surprised that such a question is posed anyway. However, my eyes have seen a good deal of car sprayers using whatever solvent they find available in their body shop to treat the surface prior coating. This is why it makes no harm to repeat certain refinishing axioms one more time. Hence the main points why NOT to clean the surface with automotive paint thinners are as following:

 

1. The main problem with acrylic (or any other type) of thinner used in a body shop, is that it dries too fast. A good silicon cleaner or grease remover needs to stay wet on the surface long enough for floating contaminants to be picked up by a subsequent clean wipe.

 

2. Another problem with lacquer thinner is that it can melt dirt down. Even ones that do not show signs of melting may be softened enough to penetrate the surface.

 

3. Also, some thinners used for spray gun cleaning are made from recycled solvents, and many of them may contain some impurities.

  

Tip: Use dedicated non-woven wipes for degreasing purposes, not paper. Non-woven wipes will not leave any lint behind, unlike common paper sheets or cotton rags. Right cleaner and wipe will save you a lot of money and time for expensive reworks!

 

 

 

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