Piston Slap: Droppin' a Dime on Quarter Panel Replacement?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
TTAC regular Mikey writes:

A lady backed into my Mustang a few weeks ago. She was cool and fessed up. I let the insurance companies figure it out. The Ford dealer says “we need to do a quarter panel replacement.” The body side is one stamping, so they need to cut into the roof and the door sill. They have a quarter of the car torn apart — deck lid off, interior trim, fascia, all in pieces .

I know the world has changed, but I’ve seen a lot worse banged out. I guess I should be happy that it’s not stuffed with body fill. I’m just a little worried about all the electrical, plugs, sensors and who knows what else? The damage didn’t look that bad.

Should I be confident that the Ford dealer can put it back together correctly?

Sajeev answers:

Be confident that any reputable body shop staffed with techs sporting certifications is very likely doing good work.

Most franchised dealers have body shops meeting industry-accepted standards and practices, so let’s hope that — from the experienced welder to the beginner body tech — they took pride in their work and weren’t looking for a new job. More so than any other part of the car business, the customer-facing Retail & Aftersales organizations live and die by workforce quality.

Now onto the quarter panel issue: two bits in Ford’s Collision Position Statement tell the story:

“Ford Motor Company only approves repairs to structural components – (including frames, rails, aprons and body panels) – that are completed using Ford published repair procedures and Ford Original Equipment Parts. Failure to follow these instructions will adversely affect structural integrity and crash safety performance, which could result in serious personal injury to vehicle occupants in a crash.”

Ford isn’t the only OEM suggesting their body panels are a structural element, the reasons are likely between the lines of this article. While I have my theories ( finite element analysis is so precise that even external body panels are now optimized to weight and safety perfection) we may never know.

But that’s not the point: OEMs scienced-out the chassis, crashed the damn thing eleventy-billion times both virtually and IRL, so they are the final word on collision repair techniques.

“Where no Ford supplied repair procedure is available, repairs must be made at factory joints or seams with Ford original replacement parts using procedures that duplicate factory assembly processes and techniques.”

I assume there’s no factory repair procedure involving panel beating/stretching and bondo, so that’s why you got a new one. Perhaps a non-approved repair may never affect the Mustang’s structural integrity, but this is one time where the slippery slope argument is valid.

Lives are at stake: I hope I never hear another heartbreaking story like Matthew and Marcia Seebachan. The pain and suffering caused by a truly deplorable repair (and subsequent $31.5m lawsuit) is precisely why the OEMs make the rules. I’m thrilled you got a new quarter panel, because you should never settle for less.

[Image: OP]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

More by Sajeev Mehta

Join the conversation
2 of 55 comments
  • R Henry R Henry on Jun 03, 2019

    I don't accept that sheet metal skin provides enough structural support to be meaningful. If it was my car, I would be fully satisfied with some ordinary metal straightening, a few dabs of Bondo, and spot paint/feathering--car back in a few days.

  • DweezilSFV DweezilSFV on Jun 15, 2019

    'Ford isn’t the only OEM suggesting their body panels are a structural element,' Uhmmm, this has been true since unit body construction first came into use.

  • Chiefmonkey Bet on it getting 5-10 MPG less than the advertised rating.
  • FreedMike Maybe they will be the Alpine distributors.
  • TheEndlessEnigma The Mitsubishi hate and snark in many of these comments is expected. I really do need to challenge anyone here who bristles at the mention of Mitsu and immediately begins a Tourette's inspired flow of vitriol. Before you rant on about how bad Mitsu's are, get into one and drive it. Surprise surprise, they are good vehicles, it's just kewl and hip to be a lemming and blindly follow the "Mitsubishi Sucks Because Doug DeMuro Told Me So" crowd.
  • EBFlex Remember when they introduced legislation to take natural gas stoves away? Now they want to charge electric trucks with it? If liberals didn’t have double standards they wouldn’t have any at all.
  • Glennbk First, Cadillac no longer has brand cache. And as such, the prices need to drop. Second, reliability. Cadillac doesn't have that either. Dedicate GM funds to re-design the High Value Engines. Third, interiors are too gimmicky. Take a step back and bring back more buttons and less black plasti-chrome. Forth, noise isolation. These are supposed to be luxury cars, but sound like a Malibu inside.