Collision Repair Jargon
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Collision Repair Jargon

Are you having trouble following the work that needs to be done after an accident? Do you feel like your insurance agent is speaking another language? Here are some of the most common terms used by the collision repair industry and what they mean.

Parts and Repairs

OEM: This stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer.” These are made by the same company that made the parts your car was built with at the factory. These are built by the car company themselves, or by a supplier they work with. For example, a body panel for a Camry may be made by Toyota, but the tail light might be made by Denso. OEM parts are available to all shops, not just dealers.

Aftermarket: These are parts made by a third party unrelated to the vehicle manufacturer. While you might not think twice about using a different tire or oil filter than what your car came with, the shame of aftermarket body panels can be quite a bit different from OEM parts. That means it can take more work to install and match up with the rest of the car, increasing labor costs.

LKQ: “Like kind and quality” parts are used parts that are still structurally sound and in good condition. Body shops will often choose these over aftermarket parts if they’re available because they’ll be a better fit, and insurance companies prefer them because they lower the overall cost of repair.

Benches, Frame Racks and Frame Machines: These three terms all refer to a device used to straighten out structural components. The car is tied down onto the rack, then chains, clamps, and winches are used to pull the vehicle back into shape.


Corrosion: When metal combines with oxygen, it forms rust on steel and iron and aluminum oxide on aluminum parts. All corrosion must be removed before a part can be painted. Deep rust must be cut out and replaced with new metal to restore the structural integrity of the part.

Paint Prep: This includes sanding, cleaning, removing oxidation and sometimes adding a base coat to create a surface for the paint to adhere to. Good paint prep can make a huge difference in the quality of a paint job.

Primer, Base Coat and Clearcoat: Modern automotive paint is applied in three layers. The primer bonds to the metal, creating a surface the paint can adhere to. The color of the car comes from the base coat. This coat is covered with clear paint called “clearcoat.”

Curing: Paint is mixed with a solvent before being applied so it flows evenly out of the paint gun. This solvent has to evaporate out to solidify the paint. There are three ways to cure paint:
Air dry – Left to sit without any temperature intervention. This can take several days.
Force dry – Placed in a heated area, shortening the cure time to a couple of days.
Baking – Placed in a high heat area. This can damage some car parts, so it’s typically limited to body panels that are off of the car.

Edge-to-Edge: The entire body panel is painted instead of just around the damaged area.

Block Painting: A body panel is painted with subtle shading differences to help it blend in with surrounding panels.

Backsanding: Sanding a large area of a panel to blend in fresh paint. This technique is used when the paint is only applied to a small area.

Common Abbreviations

VIN: The Vehicle Identification Number is a unique number applied to your vehicle at the factory. This number includes information about the car model, paint and options, making it a useful tool for getting parts and mixing paint that matches your vehicle.

FEA and 4-W: These are abbreviations for “front end alignment” and “four-wheel alignment” used on repair estimates and orders.

R&I and R&R: These stand for “remove and install” and “remove and replace.” Even if a part isn’t being replaced, it takes time to remove and reinstall, requiring extra labor charges.

Insurance Terminology

Repair Authorization: The vehicle owner’s approval for having work done, usually contingent on approval by the insurance company.

Betterment: If you’re putting new parts on your car, you’re making the car better and therefore more valuable. In rare cases, the insurance company may pro-rate repairs, requiring you to pay the difference.

Adjustment: If hidden damage is discovered after repair begins, these new repairs need to be added to the estimate and approved by the insurance company.

Understanding Collision Repair is Hard. Getting Good Service is Easy

When you need your car fixed after an accident, go to Merton Auto Body. Chances are, you’ve already seen our work: we’ve helped people in the Lake Country area get their cars back on the road for over 70 decades. Our shop is a few miles northwest of Pewaukee, just up the road from Ironwood Golf


Book your appointment now!

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