To work in this field you must have good practical skills, patience and the ability to use a range of tools and equipment. You will need to be aware of safety issues, the ability to work methodically whilst also paying close attention to detail. You also will need good communication skills to deal with your work colleagues and the general public.
Most body repair work is carried out indoors in workshops. The work can be physically demanding and is often carried out in cramped, cold, dirty conditions such as working under vehicles. Repairers are required to wear the correct safety clothing such as protective masks, glasses and gloves.
If you enjoy working as part of a team and enjoy working on the vehicle itself, then you will enjoy body repair. In this area of the motor industry, you will be repairing damage to vehicles that has been caused by general wear and tear or by an accident. You will be returning vehicles to roadworthy condition. Your main tasks will include estimating body damage, removing, repairing/replacing damaged body components, using welding and soldering equipment, deciding on repair techniques, cleaning and preparing metal surfaces for painting and you may also help vehicle body builders to build custom designed vehicles.
If you are repairing a badly damaged vehicle, you may be required to straighten out the chassis with a jig. You will need to bolt the vehicle to brackets on a large ramp and then use a machine to pull it square.
Primarily, body repair is about rectifying collision-damaged, mono-constructed steel bodies, which represent the vast bulk of modern light vehicles. Heavy vehicle cabs and vans which employ similar construction principles lend themselves to the same range of skills. Typical activities are identified as follows:
- Removal and replacement of structural body panels – this involves adhering to industry codes of practice; employing inert gas welding, resistance welding and adhesive application tools; removing and replacing sections, which are part of the welded structure.
- Repair of structural body panels - this involves using specialist impact removal tools and hydraulic push/pull equipment; removing protective materials; re-instating panels with techniques of hot and cold shrinking.
- Rectification of vehicle misalignment - this involves visual examination; measurement and re-alignment using universal and dedicated body jigs; removing, repairing and replacing chassis legs and structural body members.
- Quality-checking of body repairs - this involves using manufacturers’ manuals and company checking procedures; inspecting vehicles during and after strip and fit, body repair and paint refinishing; using headlamp and wheel alignment equipment; conducting tests both off and on road.