What is and is not accident related?

Education posted on 12/12/18

Diagnostic freeze frame data, if available, can give a repairer clues to when a diagnostic trouble code was triggered. Freeze frame data is a record of many different control units, including; fuel systems, calculated loads, engine coolant temperature, fuel trim, engine speed, vehicle speed, etc. when a malfunction is detected. When troubleshooting, freeze frame data can help determine if the vehicle was moving or stopped, whether the engine was warmed up or not, if the air-fuel ratio was LEAN or RICH and other data collected at the time the malfunction occurred.

Issues with the automotive power train can either be a normal part of the repair process or a catastrophic ending, depending on when the problem is found, diagnosed, and repaired. The difference in outcome is the timing of the data collection. The best time to obtain all possible computer readings is when the vehicle is first brought to the shop. The collection of the freeze frame data at the very start can then be used in the accurate preparation of the repair plan.

It’s important to understand that often, vehicle owners haven’t seen, or even been in contact with their vehicles in several days or even weeks. The vehicle may have been subjected to multiple tow trucks, tow yards, and exposed to outdoor elements. A collision shop MUST document how the vehicle arrived at the shop – both physically and electronically.

The time of the data collection, when compared to the time of the accident, can also be a clue to determine if covered components were normal, the cause of, or the result of the accident. This information then can be used to better refine the repair estimate. It can be difficult to amend the estimate, order parts and install components after repairs have started, or worse, been completed.

In summation, Is it related? Is it not related? As with most questions in life, the best answers are based on facts. The driver of the vehicle and the vehicle itself are the only two parties that experienced the accident. One may not have complete recollection, but the other may provide accurate stored information. If diagnostic health scans are not performed, the shop and the insurer are basing their “related” or “not related” decisions on physical vehicle damage and possibly limited customer testimony. The vehicle is potentially storing data that could point to poor maintenance, abuse and even vandalism. Its data could also point to issues that are loss related but go undiscovered by all parties because a vehicle health scan wasn’t performed. The asTech® Remote Diagnostic Device has the ability to provide this data to all parties through remote vehicle diagnostics using OEM scan tools.

Every year more and more electronic controls are added to our vehicles. Proper procedures established now will guarantee the most efficient repair possible and also the most possible profit! It is recommended that collision centers set up processes where there is a policy present of conducting a pre-scan with the asTech® Remote Diagnostic Device, when the vehicle arrives at the repair facility. Having the results of the pre-repair scan will enhance your estimate.

For professional assistance in the collection and interpretation of all vehicle data before, during and after repairs, contact the professionals at Collision Diagnostic Services.

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