Nature of the Work
Automotive body repairers straighten bent bodies, remove dents, and replace crumpled parts that are beyond repair. They repair all types of vehicles. Each damaged vehicle presents different challenges for repairers. Using their broad knowledge of automotive construction and repair techniques, automotive body repairers must decide how to handle each job based on what the vehicle is made of and what needs to be repaired. They must first determine the extent of the damage and decide which parts are repairable and which parts will need to be replaced.
For heavily damaged cars, an automotive body repairer might start by measuring the vehicle's frame to determine if there has been structural damage. The technician would then attach or clamp the vehicle to a structural repair machine that uses hydraulic pressure to align damaged components. They must restore "unibody" vehicles (designs built without detachable frames) as well as "full frame" vehicles (designs built with a detachable frame under the body), to precise factory specifications for the vehicle to operate correctly.
Refinish technicians prepare the vehicle for refinishing by applying corrosion protection materials and various body repair materials. The body repair materials require power and hand tools to sand and shape the damaged panels for preparation of topcoats. The repairer then uses vehicle-specific colors mixed at their shop or by a local vendor. These colors are used with special techniques to ensure the color matches the existing finish. Usually the final top coat will be a protective clear finish to protect the color and optimize appearance.