Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has issued a release urging drivers to be vigilant about inferior vehicle repairs in the wake of damaging hailstorms in late 2018.
With over 60,000 vehicle insurance FCAI initiative Genuine is Best has developed a six-step ‘Instant Expert’ guide for the thousands of owners of damaged vehicles. The guide advises owners on how to check repairs before accepting a vehicle.
FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said that where parts are being replaced, genuine parts were the best way to maintain the original integrity of a damaged vehicle.
“Australian motorists could have their cars returned in far worse condition following a repair,” said Mr. Weber.
“We are in a fraught smash repair environment. Drivers are sometimes unable to choose their repairer and many are signed on to insurance policies that encourage the fitment of parts that are unapproved and untested by the car’s maker. These issues are only compounded by a surge of thousands of simultaneous claims.
“A repairer who strictly follows OEM repair methods and uses genuine replacement parts will help to ensure your car will be restored to its original level of performance and protection. OE dealers are the only suppliers who can guarantee the supply of genuine parts made for the Australian market.”
The most commonly replaced parts following hail damage are glass, roofs, doors, bonnets, boot decklids and fenders.
Genuine windscreens are a necessity for many new vehicles. Manufacturers calibrate glass for the function of crash avoidance, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist and SRS systems. A non-genuine windscreen may inhibit or suppress these vital safety systems.
In 2017 Genuine is Best analysed steel bonnets repairers were regularly fitting to vehicles originally equipped in the factory with aluminium items. Testing showed a risk of the bonnets flying open at high speed. The non-genuine bonnets also increased the likelihood of pedestrian head trauma in a collision and overwhelmed gas struts, leaving mechanics at risk of being struck by a falling bonnet.
Non-genuine fenders and doors may have different material compositions which have not been tested with the car. Changes to the strength of the steel used in the components can impact or negate the deployment of supplemental restraint systems.
Paint & Panel asked Suncorp and IAG to comment. Suncorp’s Head of Motor Claims, Paul Sofronoff said: “Our repairers are doing a great job in delivering a high-quality and safe response to the Sydney hail storm. Fearmongering by the FCAI doesn’t help customers. Suncorp customers have trusted our Life Time Guarantee for over 20 years. It goes well beyond what is required by consumer law, and what is offered by OEs on their parts. It covers the parts used and all of the repair work done to the car. With over 20,000 vehicles to be repaired for Suncorp customers in the Sydney hail storm it’s a big commitment we stand by 100%.”
An IAG spokesperson said: "We received more than 42,000 claims following the December hailstorms that impacted Sydney and the central Coast. We setup 11 sites for our specialist hail repairers to triage and repair damaged vehicles.
“These repairers are experts at assessing and repairing hail damage and their sole focus is customers impacted by the December hailstorms.
“Our repairers use the latest technology to identify the hail damage and will use paintless dent removal or re-spray vehicles if required.
“We also have our claims teams at the centres to help explain the process to our customers and ensure we’re doing everything we can to give them peace of mind while we repair their vehicle.
“Our repairers will inspect the vehicle and speak with the customer about the repairs we’ve undertaken.
“Whether we’re repairing one vehicle or a thousand, we’re dedicated to ensuring our customers step back into their vehicle that’s been repaired to the highest safety and quality standards.”