Is repair the same as replace?

Although it has been proven wrong many times since Nowlan and Heap did their fundamental work on reliability analysis in the 1960s, many asset managers are still operating with the erroneous impression that older assets have higher bankruptcy rates. This mental paradigm, while correct for approximately 11 percent of the failure modes of a sufficiently large group of assets, is not accurate for the remaining 89 percent of the failure modes of that same group of assets. To decide if it's time to repair or replace an asset, you must compare the current value of the asset with the cost of the repair. Simply, when the cost of the repair is lower than the value of that equipment, you must repair it.

When the cost of the repair is higher than the value of the asset, you must replace it. They suffer from repair fatigue, the effect of heat and cracking in the same way as structural parts; therefore, such a part, even with minor damage, may not be suitable for repair. Most of the time, stress relief is done by vibrations (often during hammering repairs) or by heating the repair area. No discussion of the replacement or repair of structural parts can be complete without mentioning the responsibility for the repair.

It's also vital to know and use the manufacturer's recommendations during repair, follow standard repair procedures in the shop, and maintain accurate repair records. You're now ready to compare the cost of the repair with the current (remaining) value of the asset to decide if it's time to repair or replace it. It would have been nice to see a broader evaluation of subjective values when making such an important decision and evaluating the likelihood of failure when repairing the vehicle rather than repairing it. You can't offer a warranty for end-of-life repairs to something that has far exceeded its normal lifespan, so you've likely paid for a full replacement with a handful of repair calls.

The end result is that you have a better comparison between repairing and replacing, so you can make a more informed decision regarding the uncertainties and risks involved in repairing. It's not enough to say that, since you've been in the collision repair business for years, your repair technicians have the right and effective education for the vehicle you're working on. In addition, many estimating programs now indicate structural parts with an “S” and even allow repairs to structural parts to be invoiced at a different rate than other non-structural repairs. Of course, the best way to identify a part is to consult the body repair manual, where the manufacturer can recommend which parts should be repaired and which should be replaced if damaged.

By following the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations, the repair center and technicians can limit their repair liability. Good repair skills, such as finishing metals and applying the right amount of filler, are still an important part of collision repair.

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