I have to admit that these tips series for Etalon Refinish Blog is my favorite. I am happy with idea that a bodyshop somewhere could earn extra buck by offering profitable and beneficial to customers services. The key is to identify untapped demand for additional services, other than common auto body refinishing jobs. In this post I suggest yet another potential earner – application of anticorrosive and sound-deadening coatings.
Who needs undercarriage protection?
In fact, most of the car owners need this service, depending on the climate, vehicle age and road conditions in the area. I would identify the following vehicles as potential market for underbody treatment:
– All vehicles in areas with harsh winters.
If your bodyshop is located in the climate zone with heavy snowfalls and low temperatures, most certainly the roads in the region will be treated with special snow-melting agents or salt. Those agents and salt virtually ruin underbody surfaces exposing them to air-induced corrosion.
– All vehicles in the areas close to the sea.
In the regions close to the sea or ocean, the air is very humid and enriched with salty water, which corrode even well-protected new vehicles within a few months.
– Vehicles, which are driven in the rural areas and regions with poor road conditions. Most common problem in such areas is rust starting from stone chips.
– Older vehicles (five years and older) with high mileage usually incur rust spots on undercarriage surfaces
– Vehicles for resale. It is a well-known fact that a potential buyer most probably would like to check the vehicle’s underbody condition. Rust will be a big turn off, and, therefore, the value of the vehicle will be significantly lower.
– Old-timers. Vintage vehicles are subject of pride for its owners. However, those cars are in need of frequent inspection for corrosion, and underbody protection is necessary for those vehicles.
What about OEM anti-corrosion warranty?
The common misconception about the newly acquired vehicles is that they are fully protected and covered by anti-corrosion warranty. Unfortunately, most of the car owners do not pay attention to the warranty exemptions and terms. In fact, most of the OEMs refer to anti-perforation warranty, which covers in reality only, holes caused from corrosion inside out the part, and strictly under the condition that a yearly anti-corrosion inspection is performed by authorized repairer. The cost of the inspection will be chargeable to the vehicle owner. So, if you forgot to take your car for such an inspection, forget about warranty. In addition, the rust caused by outside parameters like salt or stone chips will not be covered. Below you can find a typical exclusion case from a big car brand:
“The exhaust system, petrol tank, mechanical components or corrosion on or originating from exterior surfaces, including seam corrosion or damage caused by stone chipping, scratches, abrasion or paint failure. Exterior paintwork damage is readily visible and should immediately be rectified by the user”
What type of materials to choose?
I would distinguish to main categories of underbody coatings: stone chip protection and sound-deadening.
Stone chip protective coatings could be water-based or solvent-based. These coatings are usually sprayed with UBC gun, but you can also find them in aerosol sprays. Typically black, grey and white colours are available.
Sound-deadening coatings are of higher viscosity. Usually this coating is applied by brush or roll in thicker layers to achieve better sound-deadening properties. Also, if diluted, sound-deadener can be sprayed.
What is very important in every type of underbody jobs – proper surface cleaning. It is strongly recommended to follow the material’s technical data sheets for proper application techniques.
How to market your offering?
First of all, you need to identify the target market. Owners of the relatively new vehicles are less inclined to pay for extra protection of their vehicles. It would be wise to prepare a short informative leaflet explaining all the pitfalls of OEM anti-corrosion warranty.
Secondly, if the you have the vehicle for a body repair paint job, take time to examine the vehicles places prone to be affected by rust. In case you spot rust or paint bubbles, take pictures. Nothing will be the better argument than a visual proof of the undercarriage poor condition.
Third, ask a customer if he is happy with his vehicle’s sound proof condition? Apparently, there are many vehicles, especially in smaller categories, which have very poor soundproofing.
Finally, have some photos or even better videos of the application process and treated surfaces conditions before and after underbody coating has been applied.