The Database Enhancement Gateway, which allows repairers and insurers to make inquiries and suggestions of the Big 3 estimating providers at no cost, was augmented in 2015 to offer weekly tips for repairers on the Audatex, Mitchell and CCC programs online and through the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ email list.
If you haven’t used the free service before to submit questions about estimating collision repair work or just browse responses to other carrier and shop questions, check it out. It’s a good way to find IP best practices and help write the most accurate estimates or appraisals possible.
Here’s some areas spotlighted as tip-worthy by the DEG. To receive the tips as soon as DEG releases them, like/follow the DEG’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. (It also posts videos to a YouTube channel once in a while.) Or just browse the more than 10,000 inquiries and responses in the database and see what else you learn.
CCC, Mitchell: Not-included masking operations
MASK INTERIOR, ENTRYWAYS, ENGINE COMPARTMENT AND TRUNK OPENINGS
Interior masking may be necessary when refinishing exterior surfaces to stop overspray damage that is not prevented by adjacent panel perimeter masking which includes back taping or application of foam tape. Interior masking may also be used when exterior panels (door, hood, etc.) are removed while applying refinish material. The performance of this operation is NOT INCLUDED in the Mitchell refinish labor time. (Emphasis Mitchell’s.)
A Mitchell illustration offers not-included interior masking locations and labor times for them, explaining, “Labor time includes all pillars, jambs, weatherstrips, edges, entryways and openings as necessary. Deduct .1 hour overlap for each interior masked adjacent panel and/or opening.”
“As always, Material cost are NOT INCLUDED in labor times,” the DEG stressed. It offered this guidance about CCC labor times as well.
A variety of CCC entries involve not-included masking, according to the DEG.
The “Bagging (Cover Entire Vehicle Exterior)” section states, “Published refinish times include time necessary to mask exterior surface adjacent the refinish area to a perimeter of 36 inches, or 3 feet. When the process of perimeter masking is substituted for an entire vehicle bagging procedure, then no additional time should be added.”
If the body shop needs to mask the perimeter and bag the entire car, CCC states a formula of “Add 0.2 each time a cover is applied and removed” for applying and removing the vehicle cover “may be considered.”
The “Basic Color Coat Application” entry breaks down other masking that is and isn’t included, according to the DEG.
Included items include “Back tape opening (handle, lock cylinder, mirror),” “Mask adjacent panels (3 foot perimeter),” “Mask / close gap between adjacent panels up to foam tape (over spray),” “Mask glass opening,” “Mask / protect grille radiator opening (over spray),” “Mix paint (color with necessary solvents)” and “Remove masking,” according to CCC.
Not-included items include “Cover mask engine / compartment to prevent overspray,” “Cover / mask entire exterior of vehicle to prevent overspray damage,” “Cover / mask for prime and block,” “Cover / mask for cut-in,” “Cover / mask recessed edges / jambs,” “Cover / mask trunk / compartment to prevent overspray” and “Cover / mask interior of vehicle to prevent overspray damage,” CCC states.
The DEG also reported that the “Color Blend (Adjacent Panels)” and “Three-Stage Color Blend (Adjacent Panels)” CCC entries both declare “Masking of attached parts” not-included. Interestingly, CCC lists “Cover / mask recessed edges / jambs” as not-included in the “Color Blend” entry but included in the “Three-Stage” section.
Finally, the DEG explained what to do regarding “roping” in what might be a quote from CCC:
In the event a facility decides roping or “lifting” window seals are best repair option for the vehicle repairs, Published refinish times are for one color applied to new undamaged OEM replacement components, without exterior trim, interior trim or other attached components. Roping or lifting seals would require an on the spot evaluation for labor time if required.
Audatex: Refilling, topping off or draining
The DEG in May called repairers’ attention to how taking care of a vehicle about a quart low would be a not-included operation in certain cases.
Audatex’s labor exclusions include “Drain, refill and/or top off engine oil”; “Drain or refill fuel tank”; and “Drain, refill and/or top off transmission fluid.”
“An example would be vehicle with oil, transmission coolers built into the radiator or separate cooler requiring to be disconnected, drained and refilled using the appropriate fluid,” the DEG wrote.
The estimating service also excludes “Bleeding of brake, cooling, or hydraulic systems (‘Additional Labor’ for brake bleeding).”
“An example would be having to bleed or purge air out of a cooling/ radiator during the refill process, or filling and bleeding a brake system after opening the fluid lines to disconnect,” the DEG wrote.
Mitchell: Refinishing the underside of a truck bed
The word “Complete” in the Mitchell operation “Refinish Complete Bed Assy Including Tailgate” can be misleading, for it doesn’t include the underside, according to the DEG.
“’Refinish Complete Bed Assy Including Tailgate’” does not include labor to refinish the underside bed assembly,” the DEG wrote of Mitchell in a May tip. “A separate refinish selection needs to be added from the Mitchell database.”
“Depending on the paint manufacturer, the underside refinish may require a flattened or matte clear to be used over the underside color for additional protection. This is not an included operation and the clear coat labor for the underside would need to be manually entered following the clear coat formula in the CEG guide under page 28 Refinish Section.”
Audatex, CCC, Mitchell: Labor times don’t include researching procedures, diagnosing
“OEM information website access cost is NOT INCLUDED in developed labor times in all three estimating systems,” the DEG wrote. “OEM technical information sites offer multiple subscription options available to end users depending on their specific needs and time. Research and disgnostic labor time is also not included in published labor times.
“Both labor and subscription cost would require and on the spot evaluation to be added on the repair plan/work order.”
Audatex: Sometimes you need more tinting time
You get a single “standard tint” operation included within Audatex’s two-stage refinish setup, according to a P-Pages entry shared by the DEG in June.
The estimating service defines “standard tint” as “the initial mix, check, one tint cycle, and check.”
Sometimes, that won’t be enough time, Audatex agrees.
“Audatex’s studies revealed instances where additional time was required for the tinting process,” Audatex wrote in its Database Reference Manual. “The range of this additional time was commonly between 0.1 and 1.0 hours with an average of 0.5 hours per estimate per color.
“The appearance of color match can be difficult enough to require both color tint (tinting to adjust the color) and blending. I-CAR Finish Matching (Module 2, Topic 3) recommends planning and preparing for blending before the work begins. Per I-CAR, tinting should be done only to achieve a blendable match.”
Have a question?
Have a question about AudaExplore, Mitchell or CCC? Submit inquiries to the DEG here. Inquiries, like answers, are free.
Audatex’s labor exclusions include “Drain, refill and/or top off engine oil”; “Drain or refill fuel tank”; and “Drain, refill and/or top off transmission fluid.” (Ratanapon Sangounsiritham/iStock)
A Mitchell illustration offers not-included interior masking locations and labor times for them, explaining, “Labor time includes all pillars, jambs, weatherstrips, edges, entryways and openings as necessary. Deduct .1 hour overlap for each interior masked adjacent panel and/or opening.” (Mitchell image provided by the Database Enhancement Gateway)
Any time you spend accessing OEM repair procedures — as well as the cost to subscribe to each OEM site — isn’t included in any of the three estimating services’ labor times, the DEG explained in May. (Screenshot from www.oem1stop.com)