Bring the Heat: Welding

August 20, 2013 | Reply More

Welding: It’s a matter of focus and staying relevant.

bmw frame structure


Like almost everything else on a BMW vehicle, mechanical service and collision repair are constantly evolving. In addition, what was once a clear division between mechanical and collision service has blurred. Electronic systems — modules, sensors, cameras, and other hardware — are often situated in the very same areas that welding may impact, so awareness and taking precautionary measures do matter. 

As BMW vehicle construction technology advances, the repair procedures, equipment, tools, supplies, and other resources required to provide customers with a complete and safe repair that returns the vehicle to its original specifications and safety ratings march in step. BMW increasingly recommends the use of bonding and rivet joining technology for newer models, rather than conventional welding, such as MIG (Metal Inert Gas) or STRSW (Squeeze-Type Resistance Spot Welding). Examples include the replacement of both steel and aluminum exterior body panels, structural parts, and sectioning specific locations in conjunction with VIN-specific repair procedures. [Note: Bonding and riveting was covered in the June, 2012 edition of the bimmer pub in an article titled “Bonding Ramps Up.”]

BMW "Body in White" color-coded schematics

BMW “Body in White” color-coded schematics delineate the mix and location of AHSS, UHHS, aluminum, and other materials that comprise its models. For the BMW X6 shown above, BMW calls for several different joining technologies — MIG welding and brazing, spot welding, bonding, riveting and others — depending on the part being repaired. Consult ISTA for details.

One of the main reasons is the increasing use of heat-sensitive advanced higher strength steels (AHSS), ultra high strength steels (UHSS), aluminum, magnesium, and alloys. Heat generally weakens these new metals, while bonding and riveting allows their inherent strength to be retained. Another reason is that BMW offers a 12-year corrosion warranty; bonding and riveting provides increased corrosion resistance of the repair joints compared to conventional technologies.

However, while conventional welding techniques and processes are becoming the secondary method for newer models, they still remain a primary method for the collision repair of older models and associated parts, components, and assemblies. But times have changed. The challenge for collision facilities and technicians who repair BMW vehicles is clear: They must embrace and develop competencies for new joining technologies while also preserving the same for conventional welding attachment methods.

For welding, there is no substitute for authentic BMW resources

The choices that collision facilities make matter; being cheap or extravagant both have their consequences. Low quality, sometimes incomplete, repairs can result in expensive comebacks that are not offset by revenue. If an improper prior repair is determined to be at fault in damage or injury in a future accident, consequences can be even more serious.

And when customers have a sour brand experience due to a poor collision repair, it impacts everyone: BMW, the dealership, and the collision facility. Consulting genuine BMW resources should therefore always be the first step in the repair process, so that a welding-related repair isn’t compromised from the beginning.

Keep your collision repairs correct, complete, and current. Always consult the BMW Technical Information System (ISTA) application at before beginning repairs. ISTA provides detailed repair information and procedures, special tools and equipment, technical service bulletins, wiring diagrams, and other VIN-specific data.

Keep your collision repairs


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Category: Structural & Body, the bimmer pub

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