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19 News, WOIO reports on improper repairs in Ohio

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Business Practices | Repair Operations
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A collision repair customer claims he could’ve been killed as a result of improper repairs to his vehicle.

Ryan Weiss told 19 News, out of Ohio, that his Jeep Wrangler began violently shaking while he was driving and he eventually lost steering control. Weiss blamed Crash Champions.

“Your negligence could have killed me,” he said. “I could have hit one of the other cars as I was trying to maneuver off the highway.”

Crash Champions told Repairer Driven News the work was completed by a sublet vendor.

“Our company prides itself on the trust we place in our work and the work of our third-party vendors,” Crash Champions wrote in an email. “For this specific repair, we enlisted an expert third-party suspension vendor. Unfortunately, in Mr. Weiss’s case, the third-party business we relied on did not meet our standards, leading to the customer’s frustration.

“We take this matter very seriously and have terminated our relationship with that vendor. We have since reconciled with Mr. Weiss and compensated him for the repairs. We apologize for the frustration this has caused and are committed to making things right.”

The work was completed after a hit-and-run in September 2023, according to Weiss. He said he took his Jeep to a different shop to have it looked at.

“It’s clear this part was recently just replaced. It was installed wrong by whoever did it. They show where the track bar was installed wrong and completely snapped off,” said Weiss.

This incident demonstrates the consequence of improper repairs and the liability and reputation risk for repair businesses when relying on external solutions for critical repair operations.

From a business insurer’s standpoint, shop owners need to always make sure their vendors have a certificate of insurance and carry at least liability insurance, according to SPARK Underwriters. Liability insurance would typically be the primary coverage of sublet vendor work, according to Vehicle Specialty Market Underwriter Shaughn Kennedy.

SPARK Chief Underwriting Officer David Willett Willett said shops should take it a step further and use certificate tracking software to ensure vendor insurance coverages are up-to-date, especially for shops that use several vendors.

The collision repair industry is not the only trade that has made headlines highlighting the importance of following OEM repair procedures.

In January, a Boeing 737-9 had an in-flight separation of a mid-exit door (MED) plug from the airplane, adversely affecting the pressurization performance of the airplane, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

During a March interview with MSNBC, Ret. Capt. Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger discussed the risks of not following procedures.

“As ultra-safe, as we have made commercial aviation, we can’t forget what an unforgiving endeavor aviation ultimately is and how unforgiving it is of any discrepancies, any non-conformances; so much has to go right all the time,” he said. “It’s the human factor that always saves the day, but we need to give them planes that we can trust in every situation and meet every requirement of parts in that airplane. There are thousands and thousands of parts that need to be made a certain way and documented so that we can prove that. With this case, that didn’t happen.”

The interview with Sullenberger came after a scathing report was published by the New York Times that makes allegations of cutting corners, rushed production, quality control lapses, and improperly qualified manufacturing personnel working in plane production.

Sullenberger said he wasn’t surprised by the allegations.

“It happens in every industry, not just in this one,” he said. “What a compelling business case there is for quality and safety. Whatever domain you’re in, it’s always ultimately better and cheaper to get it right up front than to get it wrong and have to repair the damage after the fact. And when lives are lost, there’s no way to repair that damage.”

Boeing whistleblowers have also come forward about safety concerns with the company’s 787 Dreamliner models, including testifying before a U.S. Senate panel, and sharing that Boeing’s largest factory is “in panic mode.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has since implemented Boeing oversight measures which the agency discussed with reporters last week. FAA grounded 171 Boeing 737-9 Max planes in January and launched an investigation into Boeing’s production lines and manufacturing practices.

FAA’s cap on production of the planes will remain “until we’re satisfied,” FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker said. Every 737 Max plane manufactured will continue to be certified by FAA before being put into service.

The FAA ordered Boeing to create a comprehensive plan to fix quality control problems. The plan was reviewed during a three-hour meeting last week.

Boeing is now required to have a safety management system and has agreed to increase employee training and communication as well as strengthen its anonymous reporting system for employees.

Whitaker said Boeing will also boost supplier oversight and ensure things happen in the right sequence at every step of production. FAA will continue its oversight of Boeing, he said.


Featured image credit: andresr/iStock

More information

Aviation and collision repair: Boeing speaker shares similarities, importance of OEM procedures

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