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By John Mouser

The seven-step automobile collision repair process

In 1910, automobiles had only been available to the public for a few years. So when there was a collision, the owner would simply take it to a shop for a few coats of shellac. This is the way they painted panels after repair. Shellacking was a very long process, though. Two coats of shellac would require a car to sit for three days just to dry.

A decade later, lacquer paint made its debut, completely revolutionizing the collision repair industry and car sales in general. The introduction of lacquer kicked off an era of customization. For the first time, you could paint your car something other than black.

Now, we have acrylic paint. To apply this acrylic basecoat, a high-velocity, low-pressure gun is used. With this system, the base coat dries within minutes. Following the base coat is an additional layer called a clear coat. With proper application of the acrylic paint, the car's exterior should last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, that also means you can no longer just get a good shellacking to repair your car after an accident. If your car sustains body damage and you must take it in for repair today, here is the process it will go through.

Day 1: Tear down. We will thoroughly examine your car to find the extent of the damage and determine which part will need to be replaced.

Day 2: Parts ordering. Now that we know the precise damage, we can easily order new parts. Some parts are easily available, but other parts take 4-5 days to get. Let's focus on another step while we wait for your parts.

Day 3: Panel repair. More than likely there is damage that will require the car to be ground to the metal and filled with putty. This can take a full day to complete. While this is going on – and we're still waiting on the parts – let's look at the other side of the shop.

Day 4: Paint preparation. Once the painter sees your car moving through this process, he will look up your paint code. The painter is the last one to touch your car and make sure it is flawless, including a perfect match on the paint.

Day 5: Reassembly. Your parts have finally come in, and the painter has returned each part to the appearance of factory condition. These parts are now ready for installation.

Day 6: Detail. Your car is looking good again with the repairs. The newly painted panels will need to be buffed and polished so they are free from any imperfections. Once that's complete we will clean the interior and detail your car.

Day 7: Quality control. This is the most important department of a shop. Here, we make sure everything is done and you are ready to be back on the road safely.

As a customer, waiting a long time for your car to be repaired can be frustrating. Now that you know the process, it will give you a better understanding of what's involved in getting your car back on the road.

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