Motor vehicle body repairers/builders repair or replace
accident-damaged parts on light vehicles – cars, small
vans and motorcycles; and heavy vehicles – lorries, plant
equipment, buses and coaches. They may also work on
the repair and replacement of windscreens and glass,
and make good any defects caused by general wear and
tear. At the end of the job, the bodywork is refinished by
spraying with the correct colour match.
An initial assessment is carried out by the repairer to determine the extent of the damage and what work is required. Where necessary (and possible) the vehicle frame may need to be straightened and realigned with hydraulic equipment before undertaking repairs.
Minor dents in body panels can be hammered out using a ‘dolly’. Small dents, holes or rusted areas are filled with resin, body solder or other filler compounds ready for refinishing. Where the damage is too great for repair, a new panel is fitted. This may be taken from stock or may have to be custom built from sheet metal before being welded and soldered in place.
Before a respray, old paintwork, sealant and any rust is removed using a wire wheel attached to a drill or power tools such as a grinder. The area is cleaned, masked off, primed then sprayed following the manufacturer’s colour recommendations. For awkward jobs, the part may need to be taken off the vehicle to be sprayed and reattached afterwards.
Body repairers may also deal with broken, cracked or pitted windshields and window glass. For small jobs, compound sealant is applied; for larger ones, replacement glass is fitted.
Body repairers/builders work for garages, specialised bodyshop services, and transport and freight companies.
Vehicle body repairers/builders normally work from 8am
to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Some firms operate shift
patterns and include evening or Saturday mornings.
Most body repair work is carried out indoors in workshops or ventilated paint-spraying booths. The work can be physically demanding and is often carried out in cramped, cold, dirty conditions, eg working under vehicles. Health and safety is important and repairers are required to wear safety clothing such as protective masks, overalls, goggles and gloves.
As a vehicle body repairer, you will need:
There is a steady demand for trained vehicle body
repairers although the number of bodyshops, around
6,500, is falling. Opportunities exist throughout the
country ranging from self-employment to large main
dealers specialising in one particular make of vehicle.
In small garages, body repairers carry out both vehicle body repair and paint spraying, while in larger garages they may specialise in one or the other. Other opportunities exist with specialist vehicle repair firms, vehicle restorers, haulage and distribution firms, and bus and coach companies.
Promotion to supervisory and bodyshop management positions is common in larger organisations. Those who are qualified and experienced may set up their own business.
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