By Larry Montanez III, CDA and Jeff Lange, PE

Blending, burning in or melting clear coats are some of the terms used in the collision repair industry to describe what can be classified as an unacceptable or improper procedure, although leaving an open blend on a panel is a common practice.  Let us explain.

An excellent example of this statement would be the process and applications of automotive clear coat refinishing.  The five major automotive paint manufactures (Akzo Nobel, BASF, Axalta, PPG and Sherwin-Williams) have lifetime refinish warranties on their clear coats.  All five manufactures state the same basic requirement for the warranty to be valid; “The application of clear must extend to the nearest panel edge or breakpoint to qualify for the lifetime warranty.”  With that stated, one must understand that to be eligible for the lifetime warranty for defects the repair facility cannot leave an open blend on a panel.  Thus it is important to understand not only what is considered the proper way to do something but, who considers it proper and what the consequences of not doing it properly.

Over the past few years we have noticed some manufactures are connecting the left and right uni-side panels to the roof panel as one continuous unit.  The Volkswagen Auto Group (VWAG), that includes VW, Audi, Bentley, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Ducati and Suzuki, is one manufacturer’s that uses this construction process especially with their VW, Audi and Bentley models.  But surprisingly, the Dodge Challenger is also a vehicle that is constructed this way.  This construction design has been an area of discussion and in many cases disagreement between collision repair professionals and insurance adjusters over how to refinish these vehicles when they have sustained damage to the rear and one or more of the quarter panels require refinishing.  So, considering the warranty statements, what is the proper repair procedure for such panels?  Well, let us give you an example of what would be required to refinish a 2013 Dodge Challenger with only a one inch scratch to the left rear quarter panel.

Considering our example is a continuous/uni-side panel vehicle, performing the refinish repair properly and to keep the paint manufactures warranty, the repair facility would need to remove both front door assemblies, windshield, backlite, both quarter panel glasses, deck lid and adjacent trim components.  Surprisingly, the damage report was over 90 lines of procedures with approximately 40 hours of labor and 19 hours of refinishing. Pretty surprising the amount of procedures that are required for a one hour scratch to the left rear quarter panel!

Now some repair facilities and even paint technicians may disagree about the removal of the doors, glass and deck lid as they may say there is foam tape available that can be used in the jamb areas.  We contacted the five major paint manufactures and referenced their refinishing manual and warranty agreement.  The general response was consistent with the warranty statement; if clear coat is not applied to the a panels edge and the application of foam tape and/or masking tape was applied to jambs and the clear coat delaminates or otherwise fails, the paint manufacturer may not cover the failure under warranty.  As always, check with you paint manufacturer if you are unsure of your suppliers warranty guidelines.

We hope this article has helped the industry to better understand what is required for refinishing and clear coating procedures.

Feel free to contact us at anytime if you have any questions that we could help with.


Larry Montanez, CDA is Co-Owner of P&L Consultants with Peter Pratti Jr. P&L Consultants work with collision repair shops on estimating, production, and proper repair procedures. P&L conducts repair workshops on MIG & Resistance Welding, Measuring for Estimating, Advanced Estimating Skills. P&L also conducts investigations for insurers and repair shops for improper repairs, collision reparability, and estimating issues.  P&L can be reached by contacting Larry at Office (718) 891 – 4018; Cell (917) 860 – 3588; Fax (718) 646 – 2733; E-mail

Jeff Lange, PE, is president of Lange Technical Services, Ltd. of Deer Park, New York.  Jeff is a Licensed New York State Professional Engineer who specializes in investigating vehicle and component failures. Lange Technical Services, Ltd. is an investigative engineering firm performing forensic vehicle examinations and analysis for accident reconstruction, products liability and insurance issues.   Jeff can be reached at 631-667-6128 or by e-mail at