Counteracting the Unknown
June 13, 2022—Vehicles are made up of entire populations of intricate components, and with each component comes an element of complexity that contributes greatly to the way in which a repair is performed.
Some repairs are much more straightforward than others. The more unknowns that come up during a repair, the more difficult it can be to find the right place to start. Not only that, but even once the necessary information is obtained, it can be tough to decipher the right direction to go from there.
The Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair has taken some of the guesswork out of this phenomenon by establishing their Repairability Technical Support system. Essentially, this system grants access to vast repair information and procedures that may ordinarily take hours of research to find.
Scott VanHulle, Manager of RTS and OEM Relations for I-CAR, believes in the power of this system because he knows there is a need for it.
“We developed it because the industry asked us to,” VanHulle says. “Back in 2013, the industry came to I-CAR and said there are a lot of information gaps out there that we need help filling, and we think I-CAR needs to be the one to do that.”
VanHulle describes the RTS system as an opportunity to find and close any gaps of information that someone conducting a repair may face.
“We're not going to be your only stop, but we should be your first stop because we're going to point you in the direction of the information that you need,” he says.
The system is open to the public, and no login is required. VanHulle notes that, in the future, there may be some advantages to logging in with an existing I-CAR ID. But for now, that step is not in place.
By visiting the RTS website, individuals can conduct searches and ask questions regarding their specific repair needs, and I-CAR will provide OEM service information to support these requests.
“Our main focus is to identify those pieces of information that are scattered all over the place and really direct people to understand the exact information they need to repair that vehicle,” VanHulle says.
I-CAR prides itself on having up-to-date information throughout this system, which is crucial given the current climate of the industry. Advancements in technology are happening rapidly, and it is important to stay on top of the various procedural shifts that come along with those changes.
“In the last few years, with all the advanced driver assistance systems out there now, something as simple as putting in a windshield or maybe during a wheel alignment now totally changes what else needs to be done,” VanHulle says. “There might be calibrations and things like that that need to be done.”
VanHulle notes that ADAS plays a big role in many of these situations, and it is imperative that ADAS components are not overlooked, regardless of their complexity. It is important to do the necessary research, and RTS aims to help achieve just that.
“If it's not done, a lot of these advanced driver assistance systems are not going to work, and that's going to be something that could cause an accident or poor customer satisfaction because you missed a step in the process.” VanHulle says.
VanHulle notes that there are some circumstances where missing a step simply can’t be an option. Electric vehicle repair is especially complex. Because so much of the technology is new and requires specific sets of knowledge to conduct, mistakes can be made.
“If you don't know what you're doing on electric vehicles and you have a really bad day, there's no coming back from it.” VanHulle says.
VanHulle is referring to certain instances wherein technicians have been seriously injured or even died as a result of an EV repair attempt. He wants to help avoid anyone from getting anywhere close to a situation like that, and he believes that RTS could hold the key.
This is because RTS gets many questions revolving around EVs, ADAS, calibration and more. From these questions, the RTS team has been able to develop better guidance for its user base.
“A lot of the different sections of the website were developed off of that industry feedback based on the questions that we were receiving.” VanHulle says.
If someone can’t find the information that they are looking for, there are still options available to them. They can utilize the “Ask I-CAR” feature to ask the I-CAR team directly about their needs, and I-CAR can reach out to OEMs for answers.
“We've had it where the OEMs have updated repair procedures. They have developed procedures based on some of the questions that we've submitted,” VanHulle explains. “Sometimes, [OEMs] can just add some clarification as well and help get a little bit more of a definitive answer when something's not clear.”
Regardless of the need, VanHulle is confident that RTS can get people pointed in the right direction, and help to save some precious time while they’re at it.
“So you're not going to come to the RTS website to pull repair procedures, but we will get you to that repair procedure instead of looking for something for three hours,” VanHulle explains. “We can direct you to it and you can find it in about five minutes. So that is a really big time saving on the research side."