Motor vehicle body repairers (metal and paint) repair and restore damaged motor vehicle bodies as well as their collision-damaged mechanical and structural parts. Motor vehicle body repairers assess body damage and make repair estimates and calculations. Their repair work may range from correcting minor structural and cosmetic scratches and dents to fixing extensive structural damage to motor vehicles. Vehicle parts that are damaged beyond repair are replaced. The alignment and replacement of suspension and steering components is also a part of this trade. Restoring interior components of vehicles also falls within the scope of duties of these tradespeople. They also work with electronic components and passenger protection systems such as seat belts and air bags.
In this sector, most motor vehicle body repairers work in private enterprises or are self-employed. Journeypersons may be employed by body shops, auto and truck dealerships, custom shops, and trucking and bus companies. In larger shops or dealerships, there may be a division of responsibilities among the team of repair professionals. Some may work exclusively on collision damage repair, frame straightening, painting, suspension, mechanical, or auto glass installation. Generally in smaller shops, journeypersons tend to be responsible for a wider range of these duties. While they may work as part of the repair team, which includes other motor vehicle body repairers, automotive painters, automotive service technicians, and others in the automotive sector, journeypersons tend to carry out their duties alone.
Motor vehicle body repairers require proficiency with a variety of tools and equipment, some of which are technologically advanced. Hand and power tools are used in the repair and replacement of motor vehicle parts. Welding and soldering equipment are also used. Motor vehicle body repairers may work with a number of materials such as metal, glass, plastic and composites. Surface repairs require the application of body fillers. In addition, motor vehicle body repairers may prepare surfaces for refinishing and apply a variety of appropriate refinishing products. They must also have refinishing application and detailing skills.
Working environments vary in this trade. Typically, employees work indoors in an environment that can be noisy and dusty. However, many shops are well ventilated to avert health risks from dust and fumes. Health and safety are important issues for these tradespeople as they are frequently in contact with chemicals (e.g. paints, compounds, solvents) and physical hazards (e.g. frame equipment, sharp metal). Ongoing safety training and a good knowledge of safety standards and regulations are important. Key attributes for people entering this trade are good communication skills, mechanical aptitudes, problem solving skills, an eye for detail, good colour vision, computer literacy and a commitment to ongoing training. Good physical condition and agility are important because the work often requires considerable standing, crawling, lifting, climbing, pulling and reaching.
With experience, journeypersons may move into supervisory positions, start their own business, or become auto damage appraisers for insurance companies. Some of the skills gained as a motor vehicle body repairer may be transferred to other occupations such as sheet metal worker or automotive service technician.
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