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Smart Repair Madness!
A Smart Repair can often give you a huge cost saving over traditional forms of repair but this can be false economy if carried out on damage which isn't really a good candidate for smart repair techniques.
Sometimes it seems like the whole automotive and fleet industry has gone smart-repair-mad! If there is any defect in a car, they want to throw a smart repair at it!
"While good quality smart repairs can save some cash, be warned, if they are done poorly they can cost you hundreds to put right or wipe that amount off the value of your vehicle.
In the long run, poor repairs can end up costing you more than the original issue would have."
Mike Walters - Head of Market Analysis - Arval
So what's the problem?
Fleets have seen a 9% increase in the costs of end-of-contract charges over the last 18 months -- "In the old days some inspectors would shrug their shoulders and ignore minor faults. These are now listed out in detail and priced up", says Damian James in Business car Magazine.
Fleets have moved to counter this trend with smart repair, however our advisors have noticed a sharp rise in vehicles carrying repairs which would not pass the BVRLA's standard for repair[a].
A poor repair will count against you when you come to sell your car or return it to a lease company. We are seeing a lot of cars repairs that are not 'fit for purpose', but rather than just a lack of skill, most commonly its a case that a technique which is designed for use on a small area is used on a larger areas. We have to ask ourselves if this is due to smart repair technicians biting off more than they can chew because times are hard, or if they are having their arms twisted by driver desperate to cut cost? We suspect it's a bit of both!
S.M.A.R.T. repair is no good?
Smart repair is very good! And is suitable for any type of vehicle because it is a proper repair, so you can use it on a Bentley or Aston-Martin without the fear that you are somehow doing things by half. In fact, we have a Ferrari in our workshop at the time of writing which has had repairs to small areas -- you cannot see them because they were done on small areas.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for, 'Small-Medium Area Repair Technique'.
How to determine if a smart repair is appropriate.
As a general rule of thumb, exterior smart repairs cannot be done on larger panels such as bonnets, roofs and midway up a door. Interior repairs on fabric cannot be done on wear areas, repairs to leather and plastics are often better carried out over larger areas.
The best solution it to find companies who you can trust to advise you. Here are some general pointers:-
- Get a recommendation for the company you are going to use from somebody who you trust. A good smart repair technician will be making regular referrals to good body shops... so ask the good body shops.
- Find a smart repair technician that's willing to guarantee their work for at least as long as your body shop. Belonging to trade associations like RMIF or VBRA is always a good sign.
- If possible, find a company with a workshop if you are unable to provide one yourself. This means that in poor weather conditions you will get consistent results.
- Don't ask your smart technicians to overstretch themselves. If they don't seem to have confidence that they can get acceptable results, don't push them. You should ask questions before they undertake any work. Don't say, "I wan t you to repair that" -- some will try because they don't want to let you down. Instead you should ask, "Can you repair that, how good will the results be?".
- If in doubt, get a second or third opinion.
- a. The BVRLA Fair Wear & Tear Standard - "Obvious evidence of poor repair is not acceptable" and "All work must be completed to a professional standard.
- Tristan Young : Business Car Magazine - 10/08/2009
- Damian James' Blog : Business Car Magazine - 20/07/2009