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What's Involved in Repairing Your Car After a Crash?

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No matter how careful you may be when you're on the road, the fact remains that if you drive the typical number of miles per year, you are likely to be involved in a car crash eventually. Some people estimate that you could encounter several of these "mishaps" during your lifetime, which is a rather sobering thought. Of course, if you're unlucky enough to find yourself in that type of situation at the moment, statistics are of no interest to you, but you will certainly want to know how they're going to repair your vehicle when you take it in. What is involved in taking your car in for smash repairs?

The Challenge Ahead

The job of the specialist is known in the industry as "panel beating," but there's a lot more to it than simply hammering away with basic tools. Several different stages are involved and it's much more complicated than it used to be, due to the weird and wonderful designs of the modern car. Manufacturers want their vehicles to stand out, and they will add different touches to the various panels in order to make it look nice. All very well, but it makes the job of the panel beater more difficult.

Step-By-Step Process

To begin with, the technician will want to see the full extent of the damage. The vehicle may have to be put onto a hydraulic lift and inspected closely to see if there is any chassis damage. If so, powerful machines are brought in to straighten everything back out again.

When it comes to the individual panels, these will have to be stretched or shrunk accordingly so that they are back to the original shape. This is where the "beating" comes in, and a blow torch will also be used for reshaping purposes.

Once this general work has been done, more specific techniques are brought in to apply some finesse. The technician will work with a tool known as a "dolly," pushing and pulling gently in different directions according to the very subtle contours of your vehicle. This technique is sometimes known as "planishing."

Now the vehicle will begin to look like its former self, and even more precise work is necessary to fill in the imperfections. This will involve the use of putty and a very precise touch, and when it is left to set, it will harden automatically.

It's almost time to apply the paint, but the surface has to be free of any blemishes or tiny undulations and will therefore need to be sanded first. Different types of sanding pads will be used in wet or dry conditions until it is all perfectly smooth.

Final Touches

Now the vehicle is ready for several layers of paint, which will be applied over the space of a couple of days in order to complete the job.