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Career and Job Search Guide
  

Auto Body Repair Technician

After a car has been damaged in an accident, it can be fixed to appear and operate as if it is new. Automotive body specialists, also known as collision repair technicians, replace panels and remove dents to refurbish damaged car exteriors. The majority of collision repair specialists repair damaged passenger vehicle bodies, but some repair bus and large truck bodies. These specialists work in teams or alone usually under the supervision of a manager. Some specialists enjoy the assistance of apprentices.

Every time a car is damaged, it presents new challenge to collision repair specialists. These specialists rely on their training and knowledge to determine how to repair the body of each damaged vehicle. Before performing any repairs, they must verify how much damage has been caused and what parts will need to be ordered to repair the vehicle's body.

If the vehicle's body has been severely damaged in an accident, a collision repair specialist usually begins a job by realigning an automobile's frame by clamping the vehicle to machines utilizing hydraulic technology. Vehicles without frames, also known as unibody automobiles, must be rebuilt to exact factory instructions if these cars are to drive properly again. When repairing these automobiles, collision repair specialists utilize benchmark systems to get precise measurements and hydraulic technology to reshape the automobile to its original form.

After the frame has been properly aligned, collision repair specialists repair or install new body panels. When specialists replace metal panels, they use pneumatic powered metal cutting tools to remove these sections. Repairable dents are fixed with hand tools or pneumatic powered tools. Collision repair specialists utilize solder or plastic to cover dents that cannot be fixed with hand tools. Metal panels with repairable dents are usually buffed with a media blaster, a device that works like a sand blaster to reshape the panel. The panel is then repainted.

Newer vehicles are usually built with plastic panels, so collision repair specialists spend most of their time replacing these panels. To fix dents, collision repair specialists can place a panel in hot water to reshape the plastic. When plastic cannot be reshaped to appear in its original form, they replace the panels. Some specialists repair fiberglass panels.

Certain collision repair specialists, known as automotive glass installers, replace and repair windshields and glass in vehicles. To install glass, automotive glass installers place a moisture resistance chemical around glass edges and install the glass and rubber seals on each side of the installed glass.

Larger collision repair shops hire specialists who have expertise in different types of repairs. For example, a specialist may repair a frame while another replaces fenders or other parts. The majority of collision repair shops hire painters, but at smaller ones, employees repair and paint automotive bodies. Work environment. Collision repair specialists perform their work inside body shops full of loud noises created by power tools. Since painting occurs in these shops, they are equipped with good ventilation equipment. Doing automotive body work can be physically stressful, and many collision repair specialists contort their bodies in awkward positions to work on hard to reach areas. They must exercise caution to prevent cuts, burns, and problems resulting from toxic paint fumes. Injuries are rare since in 2005 these specialists averaged 4 injuries for every 100 employees compared to 4.6 workers out of 100 in other occupations.

Collision repair specialists usually work 40 hour weeks. When the work load is backed up, they sometimes work longer days, including weekends.
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