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Weld to the Wise: Toyota issues repair bulletin on approved welding techniques, cold straightening

Toronto, Ontario — Toyota announced that they are icing the use of heat to straighten body and frame components on OEM repairs, as well as reinforcing pre-existing welding techniques, in a Collision Repair Information Bulletin (CRIB) issued last Wednesday.

The automaker says that due to the high-strength sheet steel used for structural body and frame components, heat is not to be used in repair procedures as it can change the crystalline structure of the steel, causing a significant decrease in strength, as well as reduce its corrosion resistance.

When it comes to repair versus replace on certain parts, Toyota says body and frame deformations that cannot be returned to their original shape by cold straightening are classified as “kinks” and should be replaced. Deformations that can be repaired with cold straightening are classified as “bends.”

Stefano Liessi, a senior consultant at Canadian Collision Specialist and frequent columnist in Collision Repair magazine, spoke to whether this decision on cold straightening and part replacement will affect the overall repair process for technicians.

“It could, in the sense that a technician will have to try to complete some cold pulls first and if this fails, we are into replacement,” said Liessi.

“This is also a cost factor as no one wants to work for free. The understanding of these outlines and releases is incredibly important to the success of any repair.”

The bulletin also reinforced the requirement for gas inert arc welding/metal inert gas (MIG) techniques to be used on welded frame components. Toyota says the only approved welding technique is a butt joint without backing.

Liessi warns that while Toyota says they only mandate the use of MIG welding techniques, the inference should not be made that the use of silicon bronze, which MIG welders are capable of installing, is approved by OEM procedure.

He says he has seen this sort of “ambiguous information” in OEM welding repair documentation before.

Additionally, Liessi says “When Toyota mentions the weld joints, they specifically indicate that open butt joints are mandatory. This is to alert the technician that they are not in a position to arbitrarily decide to ‘sleeve’ the joint. Toyota uses direct language here in this part of the release, however, we must always refer to the Body Repair Manual as in areas where you will find applications of ‘lap welds.’

Liessi advised that technicians keep track of OEM’s pre-weld requirements for the application of things such as rivets, bronze and plug welds.

“With that said one aspect of note is the welder setup time and Toyotas’ focus on its importance. I cannot express how important this is and how it needs to be done for each weld scenario presented to the technician,” he said.

“Toyota along with other OEMs have parameters laid out that the technician needs to match prior to welding on the vehicle. When it comes to standards of repair and accountability this step is not up for negotiation or debate, and it is not included in operations.”

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