Why Toyota Cares So Much About the Quality of Your Auto Body Repair, And So Should You

Toyota Supera

Toyota and the quest for brand loyalty after a repair

Certain brands have very loyal followings, Volkswagen, Subaru, and Toyota come to mind. Toyota and Subaru are sold as long-lasting, trouble-free vehicles, and the people who buy them tend to keep them in service for many years. Because of their longer than average length of ownership, statistically, these vehicles may also see some collision repair because the average driver needs collision repair once every seven years. Perhaps that describes you right now.

Brands like Toyota and Subaru have fought hard to build their loyalists and are very much in tune with what keeps an owner in their vehicles, purchase after purchase, without ever switching brands. It’s safe to say that these manufacturers have the recipe for brand loyalty dialed in. It was puzzling to Toyota when a customer decided on a different brand after trading in, and they wanted to learn why. So, Toyota conducted an independent study and was surprised at the outcome.

According to Toyota national manager of service and collision operations George Irving Jr., “believe it or not,” the strongest driver of brand loyalty is a collision repair order, bet you didn’t know that.”

This came as a major surprise when the results came in, according to Irving.

The impact on brand loyalty from a collision repair “far exceeded” a mechanical warranty issue, which also had a positive result on brand loyalty, he said. Unlike a warranty repair for a manufacturing defect, a collision repair warranty repair order “doesn’t work” for brand loyalty, he said. In other words, customers are more forgiving of a factory defect warranty than they are for a bad collision repair warranty issue.


So what is a collision repair warranty issue? 


On the day you pick up your car form the body shop, the work is fresh, the paint is fresh, and everything seems in order. But with bad collision repair, issues start to show up almost immediately. One day you are looking at your car as the sun is setting, and you notice the color doesn’t match the way it should. Or perhaps the steering feels off, or the door doesn’t shut right. Maybe you start to find water in the trunk or worse, and the paint starts bubbling.

What you probably didn’t realize when you picked up your car is that you are the victim of a “cut corners” collision repair.

A collision is about the worst thing that can happen to a driver, with the most potential for disaster (including death) to people and their cars. Even if you not injured, chances are you are badly shaken up. In order to feel confident that your car is as safe and long-lasting as it was before the accident, the quality of service you receive from the body shop, and the quality of workmanship in the repair are paramount to your sense of brand quality. In other words, if you have a bad experience with the repair, you will most likely blame it on the manufacturer for building a car that “turned out to be nothing but problems.” The research about the importance of the collision process gave the OEM a “real vision” into what it should do, Irving said.



Toyota Dashboard



Ford and Chrysler found the same to be true of their brands when they conducted similar research a few years ago. The new research from Toyota confirms the link between repair quality and brand loyalty.

Why This Matters To You, The Toyota Owner


Irving said, “everything we do” at Toyota surrounds brand loyalty. Handling a collision incident properly, producing quality and safe repairs, and satisfying the customer should lead to customer satisfaction and then brand loyalty, he said.

Toyota has now made changes to its Toyota OEM Collision Repair program and will no longer chase satisfaction scores and will instead focus on the “customer experience.”

Toyota realized they need to expand relationships with Toyota OEM certified shops and get more cars to Toyota OEM certified auto body shops.

While Toyota has “great communication” with insurance companies, in the future, your Toyota vehicle will help direct the actual collision process,” according to Irving.

In the short term, this may increase repair costs, but go-backs or ‘transactions’ would fall. Toyota was working to bring out “value-line parts” when important and had been in talks with Toyota headquarters in Japan on lowering parts prices. However, at the end of the day, the big idea is to fix a vehicle correctly and get it back on the road.



Toyota Supera

Repair Decisions That Affect You Financially


As a Toyota owner in need of collision repair, you have a choice to make in who fixes your car. You may think that the insurance company controls this decision, but they do not. Toyota has an OEM certification program, but it also makes its repair procedures available to body shop owners and technicians. The problem is, not all shops care about that. You can either guess how to properly perform a repair procedure, or you can look it up from Toyota. Make sure that the shop you chose always pulls up and follows the Toyota certified repair procedure for your vehicle.

If your car is under warranty, The use of non-approved procedures or aftermarket parts could void your warranty. A poor repair job could not only affect your personal safety, and it could kill any resale value in the car.


Toyota To Body shops: OEM Position Statements Are A Direct Order, And Why That Matters

Toyota Dashboard


An issue with the auto collision repair and the insurance industry seems to be the notion that OEM repair procedures are merely recommendations. They are not. Toyota procedures are based on best practice and company research. It is important that customers know this.

Toyota has repair information for technicians in two different online locations and stresses that these procedures are not just some basic guidelines, but they must be adhered to in order for the repair to be safe for both the technician doing the work and for the vehicle owner after the repair.

From Toyota:

 “To prevent dangerous operation and damage to your customer’s vehicle, be sure to follow the instructions shown below. . .

° When performing the operations following the procedures using this manual, be sure to use tools specified and recommended. If using non-specified or tools other than recommended tools and service methods, be sure to confirm the safety of the technicians and that there is no possibility of causing personal injury or damage to the customer’s vehicle before starting the operation.

° If part replacement is necessary, the part must be replaced with the same part number or equivalent part. Do not replace it with an inferior quality part.


Toyota Dashboard

What Toyota says about OEM parts

Toyota does not allow for the use of non-OEM repair parts in their vehicles. This means any other parts built by a company other than Toyota or a Toyota supplier are not allowed. Of course, that doesn’t mean that your repair shop won’t use them, so it is important to discuss with your repair shop what parts they are using, and what is covered under your insurance policy.

As an example, Toyota referenced a particular compressor and battery blanket built specifically to keep the Prius battery at a stable temperature regardless of outside temperatures. Toyota said that if it fails and it’s not an OEM part, it could void the warranty. The Toyota Prius powertrain warranty is 5 years or 60,000 miles so older if it’s still within the warranty window you would be stuck having to buy a new battery plus replacing the non-OEM parts.

What Toyota says about proper tools

Toyota is firm on shops having the right tools for the right job, as it could be dangerous to the technician and the car owner after the repair if they are not approved tools. And why is that? Cars today are built to very exact tolerances. The collision industry, in turn, builds tools and equipment, even fixtures to hold parts in very exact locations during a repair. But it is an investment that not every auto body shop makes.

auto repair technician working on a car 

Why you should care

You purchased a Toyota because you value safety and dependability in your vehicles. These are principals that the brand stands for. If you want to maintain that safety and reliability you owe it to yourself to find a collision repair shop that takes the Toyota OEM repair guidelines seriously and makes them a part of how they repair vehicles. Not all shops do, and it is probably the most important distinction you need to be aware of as a Toyota owner. You have the final say in your repair.