BMW on Thursday advised shops to look up OEM repair procedures fresh on every individual vehicle rather than referencing a document from a prior repair.
BMW North America collision program manager Jonathan Inzano acknowledged that “it sounds a little crazy,” but a rule of thumb would be “as soon as you print it, its outdated.”
That document should only be used on that specific repair, he said. “It should be freshly printed or researched,” he said.
He called it a bad idea to “pin them up somewhere” for future reference, for “nobody knows now” when those instructions on www.bmwtechinfo.com have been updated. The shop could be working off of outdated repair procedures, he said.
“It’s always good to have the fresh document there,” he said.
Moderator George Avery mentioned a previous Guild 21 guest, aviation and power plant technician Jeff Al-Mufleh, who described a similar requirement within that industry.
Al-Mufleh told an August 2020 Guild 21 call that aircraft technicians must print repair procedures “every day.” Every manual used needs to bear the current date, he said then. “If it does not have that day’s date on it, then you’re out of compliance, more or less,” he said then.
You can’t just print out the documents in advance, Al-Mufleh said then. The procedure could have changed overnight, he said. “You just don’t know,” he said. Al-Mufleh called it a “good practice” to even reprint the document on the second day of a repair that lasted longer than a day.
Inzano said Thursday that procedures could transform for reasons like a vehicle lifecycle update or a technology or supplier change. “You just never know,” he said.
He also argued that this practice of starting fresh “covers you” as a repairer. BMW repair procedures automatically receive a date and time stamp when printed, allowing the shop to prove it used the right procedures at the time.
“It’s also for your protection as a shop,” Inzano said.
The BMWtechinfo.com website is free to BMW-certified auto body shops, who are required to use it exclusively, according to Inzano. However, it’s accessible by anyone.
“That’s always available,” Inzano said. Insurers were welcome to use it too, and moderator George Avery (Avery Knows) encouraged them to do so.
BMW insurance manager Attila Princz said BMW the access was the same for any subscriber, be they insurer or repairer. (Or anyone else with an interest. For example, RDN bought a $30 day pass Thursday to research a story.)
“We want that information to be out there,” Princz said. “… We want safe and proper repairs.” He said some insurers might have centralized information resource for staff, and that hub will have access to the OEM procedure site.
Inzano was asked about looking up BMW information on the popular third-party repair procedure aggregator ALLDATA, Inzano said he had received this question before.
“I looked into this,” he said. “The data’s not the same.”
A body shop couldn’t be sure it was getting the original repair instructions, and he’s seen “even deviations in them.”
ALLDATA licenses OEM repair procedures from BMW and other automakers.
“I don’t think it’s a bad source,” Inzano said. But even an exact copy of repair procedures could grow outdated if the repair procedures change on the BMW site, he said.
Contacted for comment, ALLDATA said in a statement Monday: “ALLDATA publishes the most up-to-date and comprehensive database of unedited OEM repair information in the industry for mechanical and collision shops, covering 44,000 engine-specific vehicles, 95% of all vehicles on the road today. We currently publish new or updated vehicle information daily, including TSBs, vs. quarterly for some competitors, and we’ve increased our publishing schedule to 10+ new or updated vehicle models per week. The process varies manufacturer to manufacturer, which may result in delays for certain types of information on select models. Our Library and Tech-Assist teams are available to help customers in real time with hard-to-find OEM information and procedures.”
The next Guild21 call is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on April 8.
Featured image: A 2021 BMW 540i in Mineral White Metallic is shown. (Provided by BMW)