What Is A Pre And Post Repair Scan And Why Does My Auto Body Repair Need It?

Pre and Post repair scan

What is a pre and post repair scan and why do I need one?

In the old days (even as far back as about 5 years ago), to do a “proper repair” on an accident damaged car, all you had to do was get the cars’ structure straightened and within tolerance, replace parts too damaged for repair, do a great paint job, get the car aligned, wash it, vacuum it and give it back to the customer. Those were the good old days.

Today in order to fix a car properly, you have to consider what kind of on board diagnostics and crash avoidance features it has. Cars equipped with such features require a pre-and post repair scan of the on board systems.

The problem for repairers right now is that some shops are not equipped to perform such repairs, or they might not even know they need to do them. Secondly, the Insurance companies are not familiar with these systems, nor the time required to properly scan and calibrate them and will sometimes refuse to pay for this step.

So what exactly are pre and post repair scans?

Modern car’s onboard computers systems called ECM’s operate systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Change Assist, Vehicle Stability, Collision Avoidance, Blind Spot Detection, Back Up Cameras, Front and Rear Radar, Side Impact Pre-Tensioners, Heads Up Display and Self-Parking. When involved in a collision your vehicle will store “fault codes” in the computer that may or may not show a warning light on the dashboard.

A pre-scan happens before repairs start ad searches for these fault codes to look for issues with the system components that might have been damaged in the accident, or might need to be “flashed” or re-calibrated.

Post- Repair scans happen once the vehicle is fully repaired and are performed to insure that all codes have been identified and cleared if needed. Most collision repair shops do not even look unless there is a code showing on the dash and this can and can compromise you and your families’ safety as the systems will not work as expected.

What happen if a post-scan is not performed

Take this real life example:
A body shop has just completed a collision repair and is road testing the vehicle prior to performing a wheel alignment and final scan of the electronics. There were no dash warning lights illuminated. The vehicle appeared to perform correctly and rode fine. The steering wheel was centered and the front end did not pull to the right or left.

As the car is traveling in the right lane, suddenly another car comes up in the left lane, at a faster speed and is about to pass. As the accident avoidance system detected the other vehicle, all of a sudden the steering wheel turned to the right into the path of the on coming car!

The body shop’s technician returns to the shop performs a scan and finds a fault code indicating that the steering angle sensor was not properly calibrated. He performs the calibration and the wheel alignment. The problem is fixed. The out-of-calibration sensor was causing the module to believe that the vehicle was headed to the left and it turned the steering wheel to the right to avoid the oncoming car. Scary situation. Thank goodness it was detected before returning the vehicle to the customer, as one could only imagine the potential consequences.

This is an example of many potential issues related to not adequately diagnosing and calibrating the complex electronic systems on today’s vehicles. More and more, industry experts and OE manufacturers are at least recommending pre- and post-repair scans. Some are even stating that the process should be mandatory.

Nissan recently declared that every vehicle must be scanned after a collision repair. Honda and now General Motors have all declared that a Pre and Post repair scan is mandatory to consider a vehicle safe to drive after a collision repair.

“It is also recommended that, where appropriate, a pre-repair scan also be completed for reasons mentioned above. The safety of our customers is our number one priority, and we believe these pre- and post-repair scans are more and more integral to a safe, quality repair. We ask the general repair industry to adhere to these strict guidelines going forward.”

When selecting an auto body repair shop to fix your accident damaged car, it is important to educate yourself and know what questions to ask. O’Rielly Collision Centers In Tucson and Green Valley AZ is an I-Car Gold repair facility and performs all scans on all repairs as mandated by the manufacturers.

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