Archive for November, 2015

A look at self driving vehicles

Posted: November 25, 2015 in Automobile


You can’t stop progress… I remember at least fifteen years ago making minor cosmetic repairs on a Dodge Colt that was converted into an electric vehicle. I remember thinking that there were no way big oil companies would allow Chrysler Motor Corporation or anyone else for that matter to mass produce electric vehicles.

I was wrong. Sleek luxurious Teslas are roaming around our streets and highways as if they were there from the beginning of times. Completely electric Nissan Leaf is a popular addition to our streets. Ugly BMW cousin, i3 model is everywhere on public roads. Every major parking lot in the city of Los Angeles has parking spots where you can recharge your electric vehicle.

“Big Oil” couldn’t stop it; no one could stop it. Electrical vehicles are here and they are here to stay. They are cheaper, as far as energy consumption. They are better for the environment. They are quiet and they are simply the way of the future.


But wait, there is more. Technology giant, Google has been testing and programming vehicles to drive themselves for the past five years. These vehicles have been spotted on the streets of Mountain View, California and Austin, Texas. These vehicles do not have a steering wheel or pedals for brake and acceleration. It is very exciting yet scary. Imagine not having any control over your vehicle. It’s an extremely radical idea, at least for me, but I better start getting used to it.

Tesla is taking it a step at a time. For now they installed an auto pilot with their latest update. Driver who still has control of the vehicle can switch it on auto pilot and observe it drive itself for a while. Tesla owners rave about its ability to learn and adapt to roads and highways.

Apple, who is a little more discreet about their research, is quietly working on their version of self driving automobile. Forget the i-phone; expect the i-mobile on the roads soon. How soon?

Japanese government has ordered Nissan Corporation to have a self driving vehicle ready for 2020 Summer Olympics to transport athletes from the Olympic Village to the events.

Imagine all the possibilities. Imagine self driving automobiles taking care of our senior citizens. Still, for me it is a scary thought to allow computer to operate my automobile. It is a revolutionary idea. However consider that 95% of all accidents on our roads are due to human error. If computer can reduce that number in half it will free up our roads and will take a lot less time for our commute. It will also free up some of our time since during our commute we will have the opportunity to catch up on our phone calls or reading the news.

Aside from revolutionizing Automobile industry self driving vehicles will completely change collision repair industry, Fifty percent less accidents means at least fifty percent less collision repair centers. And those collision repair centers that plan to survive better learn a great deal about information technology.

 It’s an exciting time to be alive. Brace yourselves; get ready for the ride of your life!


Blending adjacent panels

Blending adjacent panels

A long time patron of our establishment who is a professional photographer came by our shop last week to show me his new vehicle, 2015 sparkling silver, grey Honda Odyssey. A proud father of three lovely, young girls he really needed this sleek minivan for his soccer mom duties. He came by to share the joy of this acquisition with his favorite body shop guy, but as soon as he got here, he started to look at his new Honda in a funny, confused way.

“Is there anything wrong with this picture?” he inquired looking intently at the back bumper of his van. Paying attention to details for a living the man noticed that the bumper on his vehicle was a shade darker than the rest of it.” How could this be?” he continued with concern in his eyes:” Did the dealer sell me a new car with a repaired bumper? Did I just buy a lemon car?”

“Take it easy,” I said:” let me see if I can shed some light on your problem.” Actually I found that one of the leading automotive paint manufacturers, PPG addressed this problem in their press release. They cite four causes for color variations.

A color can vary depending on the surface on which it is painted. For example, the evaporation rate for solvent varies over metal or plastic. A longer rate gives a flake pigment additional time to” float” and can darken the face of the color.

The body was painted on the production line at the factory while other parts such as bumpers were painted at another location using a different application method.

Slight adjustments can be made during application creating a darker or a lighter color or causing metallics to lay down differently.

Light reflects differently on curved and flat surfaces causing the appearance of a color shift.



Modern collision repair shops have to be very mindful of this problem because there is nothing like an unhappy customer who thinks he got short changed. Complaints range from – they didn’t use factory paint to paint my bumper to – these guys just don’t know how to match the paint.


In real life it is a complicated process to create a perfect match. At times the same formula paint code could be several different shades depending on where the vehicle was originally painted. Paint manufacturers recommend that paint technicians spend additional time to match colors and to use spray out test panels before spraying a bumper as well as blending adjacent panels to create a perfect match. For example to paint a rear bumper on a candy apple red Toyota we had to spray adjacent quarter panels to get desired match. Please refer to the photo.


Of course, recommended procedures generate additional cost. Consumers and Insurance companies often cringe at additional costs. We hear vehicle owners saying things like I just want to paint my bumper, not the whole car. And we hear insurance adjustors simply telling us that their company policy is not to pay for that.


So what is the solution to this problem? It is to keep everyone involved educated and informed and to let sophisticated 21st Century consumers make an informed decision on how to paint their vehicle based on facts. This article is a first step.