Blueprint to effective body maintenance

How to keep vehicles lasting longer and looking good

As part of this program, for each type of work, there is a specific Job Safety Analysis sheet. Along with outlining the basic job steps and cautions, it lists any required or recommended personal protective equipment (PPE), Viles says. Also provided are all existing and potential hazards and the recommended corrective measures to take to stay safe while performing the work.


Depending on the scope and volume of body repair, it may make sense for a maintenance operation to do some or all of its own body and paint work. Provided, of course, that it has the tools, equipment, space and expertise to handle this work.

Vehicles that have been repaired to sub-par standards reflect negatively on a fleet’s image, observes Farahani of American Bus Repair. Beyond that, shoddy work could create a safety issue and will probably require re-work or additional repairs and that means further vehicle downtime.

For repairs that are detailed and intricate, both Farahani and Syler suggest having them outsourced to a shop that can adequately diagnose and make the necessary mends and fixes.

“Investing in time and money to get the repairs done properly the first time will always far outweigh the costs associated with a future incident caused by something that was not repaired correctly the first time,” Farahani says.

In 2005, after an analysis of its needs, the City of Little Rock Fleet Services Department decided to build its own body shop. “We were outsourcing and realized that if we had our own shop and technicians, we could get the units in and out two to three weeks faster, plus save in overall cost of repairs,” says Syler. “When we outsourced we found that in most cases we were never a priority to most body shops.”

Another benefit of having its own body shops is that the department is easily able to touch up units and completely re-paint units as needed.

The body shop does have its limitations, however. It outsources some of its larger units, such as street sweepers and some fire apparatus. “It all depends on the extent of the damage to the units,” Syler says.

When the City of Little Rock Fleet Services Department needs to outsource body and paint work, it looks for shops that are certified and experienced, particularly for work on its custom-built fire apparatus with custom paint jobs. “Quality and timeliness is just as important,” he says.

Years in service is usually a good indication of the quality of work by a body and paint shop, adds Farahani of American Bus Repair. “Qualified repair facilities will have invested in the tools and equipment to provide first-rate work.

“In addition, technician certifications, training and qualifications should also be taken into consideration in choosing your provider. Customer and insurance company feedback and testimonials can give an accurate depiction of the work that a facility can provide.”

The range of services provided by body shops is another consideration when deciding which one to use. Along with body maintenance and repair, services can include vehicle painting and lettering, roof and floor replacements, glass replacement, graffiti protection and collision repair.

We Recommend