The Proper Way to Protect Vehicles

The protection step has two sub-steps, vehicle protection and self-protection. This week we will discuss the vehicle protection and then next week we will address the self-protection.

Once the pre-existing damage is noted, the next step is to protect the vehicle from damage that the technician may cause. Good habits to develop are:

—Drop cloths for interior protection. Cover the seats, floor and dashboard with protective coverings. Many uniform companies will supply and clean interior drop cloths for your use or it may be a good idea to use a shower curtain as a drop cloth. It will not allow a liquid to penetrate the vinyl and it can be easily cleaned off for reuse.

—Fender covers for exterior painted surfaces. Professional covers can be purchased or just use an old bath towel. Any covering will help. Do not place tool boxes or awkward looking items on the vehicle. Big items like windshield wipers, cowl panels, or moldings can appear to be large and heavy. The customer does not realize the weight and makeup of the item and can be afraid of damage to their vehicle. Only small individual hand tools can be placed on the fender covers.

—Use protective tape on susceptible painted areas. These can include the fenders, top corners and along the hood. Any adhesive tape can be used for this purpose, including masking tape, molding tape and vinyl tape, but the best protective tape to use is a heavy fabric tape, such as duct tape. However, this type of tape can be detrimental to compromised surfaces so caution must be exercised. If a thinner type of tape is used, a double coating of tape may be called for. It is unnecessary to flatten any tape to the surface to be protected. Stick the tape to your shirt to remove some of the stickiness and then just drape it over the area to be protected. The air space created actually acts as additional protection. Then remove it as soon as the cutting or scraping tools are finished being used.

—Tape up the defroster vents. The defroster vents are open to any debris that may fall from the pinchweld or the broken glass. If not covered or cleaned out, the customer could be injured from flying glass or dirt when the defroster is used.

—Pay attention to what you are wearing. What the technician wears is many times the cause of vehicle damage. Items like belt buckles, jewelry, shirt or pants buttons, or even items in your pockets can cause scratches or dents to the vehicles surface. Wear belts without buckles, aprons and polo shirts to protect the surfaces. Remove rings, watches and necklaces to prevent scratches. Remove bulky items from your pockets like keys, change and tools. The front of your body should be free from any hard or harsh items that can cause damage.

—If you are just entering our industry or have been in our industry for years there is one constant that cannot be disputed, you will or you have damaged a vehicle. It is one of those things that will happen no matter how careful you are—tools break and mistakes happen. However, it is always better to admit damage to the customer if it occurs rather than trying to hide it. Trying to hide damage you caused will only upset the customer more than admitting your mistake.

In summary, protect the vehicle you’re working on as if it were your own vehicle because if you damage it, you will have to pay for it. Just take the precautions to minimize the damage and reduce your costs.