CARSTAR celebrated Earth Day on April 22, 2022 by showcasing CARSTAR owners who are leading the industry in “green” repair practices.
In the Bay Area, hybrid and electric vehicles are as common as cable cars and tech moguls, but that doesn’t mean there are as many qualified collision repair facilities ready to restore them after a collision.
Jason Wong, owner of several CARSTAR stores with locations throughout San Francisco, says being a “green” repair center requires more than just hanging a “We recycle” sign in the store. It requires training, technology, advanced tools, and a commitment to continuous learning.
“Repairing electric vehicles requires a lot more safety precautions because of the high-voltage systems that power them,” says Wong. “You need to have a comprehensive safety plan in place to protect your team members and the vehicle. And, you need training and special tools like high voltage gloves, insulated tools and a battery charging station.
Wong bought a Tesla several years ago so he could see through the customer’s eyes when his facility started fixing electric vehicles. He used his car to educate team members on the differences between electric and gas-powered vehicles.
“Many electric and hybrid vehicle owners don’t think about having an accident, so they don’t have a repair plan in mind if one does occur,” Wong says. “But if you’re driving in San Francisco traffic, there’s plenty of opportunity for a fender bender to happen.”
Wong recommends owners of hybrid and electric vehicles research collision repair centers that specialize in these complex vehicles before taking their car to any body shop.
“Look for facilities certified by the automaker in their specific repair processes,” says Wong. “This means they have the proper tools and training to get your vehicle back to pre-crash condition. They will also have access to original equipment parts from the manufacturer, which are important in these repairs. Also find out from the facilities you are considering if they are ASE certified for repairing hybrid and electric vehicles.
Wong credits CARSTAR with providing guidance and resources to grow its hybrid and electric vehicle repair program.
“The CARSTAR team helped us determine what was needed to repair the major makes and models we see on the road today and get OEM certifications for each. They also provide the necessary training and education to keep our team members up to date with this rapidly changing technology.Today, we have dedicated hybrid and electric vehicle repair areas at our sites to meet the growing demand for these vehicles.
Although hybrid and electric vehicles have lower maintenance and operating costs due to no engine maintenance or oil changes, limited brake wear and less brake wear parts, Wong notes that collision repairs for these vehicles are complex.
“An electric vehicle requires a completely different disassembly process and repair procedures when working around the high-voltage battery,” Wong says. “Often we replace panels with original parts rather than repair them to maintain the integrity of the vehicle. This also requires extensive pre and post repair analysis to ensure all vehicle technology is working properly.