Certified Repairs at Tsawwassen Collision
ICBC Collision Repair Network
Tsawwassen Collision has been accredited by ICBC since ICBC started their accreditation program in 1995.
For almost 25 years, from 1995 to early 2020, the standard in BC for accreditation had been ICBC’s c.a.r Shop program. This program was effectively mandatory for any collision shop doing ICBC repairs as it was required for all electronic claims communication; claims handling would be very difficult without this. Tsawwassen collision has been accredited in this ICBC program since its inception in 1995.
As a standard for repair quality it had steadily fallen behind over the years and was not up to the reality of modern cars. In 2018 ICBC started planning a new program with more rigorous equipment and training requirements. This program, the ICBC Collision Repair Network, was implemented in early 2020, but the equipment requirements do not have to be met before early 2021. At Tsawwassen Collision we view these as minimum requirements which we have been ahead of for several years.
BC Automotive Retailers Association Gold Plus Certified Collision Repair
The program started in late 2016 and in March of 2017 Tsawwassen Collision was the third shop in BC to achieve this Certified Collision Repairer designation and the annual renewal requirements have been met each year since. The Certified + Aluminum level of our accreditation indicates that we are qualified for aluminum repairs.
The BC Automotive Retailers Association, in cooperation with the national Automotive Industries Association introduced a certification program in early 2017.
This Certified Collision Repairer (CCR) designation recognizes and requires the specialized equipment that is needed for correct vehicle repairs as well as the training needed for the correct use of this equipment. A high level of commitment is needed to achieve and maintain this certification but cars are far different now than they were even 5 years ago and an honest shop cannot pretend that training and equipment from 20 years ago is good enough.
I-CAR Gold Class
In December of 2016 Tsawwassen Collision was the 9th repair facility in BC to achieve I-CAR Gold Class status and has maintained this level every year since.
I-CAR is the not quite obvious acronym for the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair. I-CAR was started in the mid-70s in America as a non- profit organization with membership from all facets of the collision repair industry. The primary objective was then and continues to be today the providing of training and technical resources for technicians and others working in collision repair. Today I-CAR licenses its programs in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
For many years training in BC was dominated by the requirements of ICBC and I-CAR had a very limited presence here. In 2015 management at ICBC realized that training of the industry should not be a core part of their business and they have moved away from their training role. With this change the I-CAR program became the standard for training for progressive shops in BC.
In mid-2016, of the more than 500 ICBC accredited shops in BC, Tsawwassen Collision was one of only 23 that had become involved in the I-CAR program. In October 2016, the first of these shops achieved Gold Class level and in December 2016 Tsawwassen Collision became the 9th repair facility in BC to become Gold Class.
There was a strong push at Tsawwassen Collision in 2016 to reach this important level but we viewed it only as a step in the continuous process of learning and improvement. With continued courses and welding qualifications we have maintained this status each year since then.
Tsawwassen Collision is certified by Ford, Kia, Nissan and FCA (Fiat Chrysler America). The core requirements for all of these companies include I-CAR Gold Class and equipment similar to what is required by the ARA CCR. Each of them then have slight variations and additions. Ford is the most complex, with rigorous tool requirements for aluminum repair.
Why are we not certified by other manufacturers?
To start with the main line brands, which most of us drive, there are requirements for certification which have nothing to do with repair capabilities. An easy example is Toyota; Tsawwassen Collision meets all the repair capability requirements but Toyota adds the requirement that the repair shop be sponsored by the local dealer. If as in our case that dealer has its own collision shop they will refuse to sponsor any other shop to encourage as much work as possible to their own facility.
Infiniti has another requirement blocking certification. They require subscription to a data collecting service which funnels information on every repair back to Infiniti. Many people are getting tired of constant data collection but even if we accepted it at Tsawwassen Collision our in-house custom designed software systems are not compatible with the data collection system required. Complicated, but nothing to do with repair quality.
We were the first repair facility in Canada to be certified by Honda but this year we lost that certification because of a stand-off over a $5,000 addition to the $135,000 frame equipment we already have. The equipment which Honda asked for is quite simply never needed in BC. We know what it is for and we would know how to use it but we also know that if a Honda is hit hard enough to need it the insurance company will write the car off, every time. Insisting in March of 2020, at the start of the unknown of the Covid shutdown, that we spend $5,000 to hang some equipment on the wall did not seem right. We may get the equipment in the coming months, but only for the sake of certification, not because it will help us do a better repair.
GM, Mazda, Hyundai and Subaru do not offer collision certification programs in Canada at this time.
The High Dollar Brands
The cars cost a lot and the certification programs are very specific and also cost a lot. Tsawwassen Collision focuses on the local community, driving a wide range of vehicles. The cost of certification for many of the luxury brands would not be justified by the volume we would do. The business model of a facility set up for repair of extensive damage to luxury vehicles is very different from the business model that works for a facility working on a broad range of vehicles and damage types.
That said, we are very comfortable with these cars and very importantly understand out limitations. A hit on a late model car that does not extend into the main structure of the vehicle is well within our capabilities and we have complete confidence in the repair. If the impact is severe and the structure of the car has been affected we know that we should not start that work. The manufacturer certification is focused on this specific structural work and many of them restrict sales of structural parts to certified shops. We take it as a point of pride that we are never blocked from buying the parts we need for the repairs we do.