DETROIT — A pickup traveling 40 mph plowed into Tim Kip's Jaguar XJ last fall, days after he bought the $80,000 aluminum-body sedan. The financial planner from Plant City, Fla., wanted to get rid of the car, even though he loved it.
"I asked the insurance company if they would total it," Kip said. "Then I tried to get the dealer to take it back on trade."
The car was crunched from the rear doors back. The repair bill topped $22,000. Kip worried that the body shop would not be able to return his car, with just a few hundred miles on its odometer, to showroom shape.
But the independent body shop — a certified Jaguar Land Rover collision-repair facility — brought the XJ back to its pre-crash condition. Kip says he's satisfied with the repair.
It's that kind of automotive angst that General Motors Co. hopes to avoid among its customers with the scheduled introduction next year of a collision certification program for its dealerships and independent repair shops.
The program comes at a time when GM is increasing its use of lightweight materials and, like other auto makers, adding electronic safety equipment.
Often the vehicle brand pays the price for improper repairs after collisions. Ford Motor Co. says nearly half of its customers who got rid of their car or truck after an accident did so for repair-related reasons — and worse, they changed brands.
John Eck, GM's collision manager, customer care and aftersales, says the intent of the auto maker's new certification program is "to focus on the repair of the vehicle."
"We want to ensure the repair facility is following the repair procedures, doing the necessary scanning and calibration, checking for recalls and ensuring the appropriately trained repair technicians are actually doing the work," Eck told Fixed Ops Journal.
"We want every Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac restored to pre-crash condition," he added. "It's about safety and brand loyalty."
A GM spokesman declined to say how the auto maker plans to market the new program to customers.