A developing story that we have been following over on the Corvette Forum reveals some interesting news for anyone unfortunate enough to crash their eighth-generation Corvette. An inquisitive forum member named Phil1098 was clicking through gm-techlink.com when he uncovered something he had never seen before; a clause prohibiting dealerships from selling structural components to shops (or individuals) outside of the GM Collision Repair Network (CRN) or Cadillac Aluminum Repair Network (CARN) which can be seen in its entirety below.
From GM Techlink:
Structural repairs must be made by certified GM Collision Repair Network (CRN) or Cadillac Aluminum Repair Network (CARN) shops. Non-certified shops will not be permitted to receive the restricted structural part numbers from a GM dealership. The majority of the structural frame components for the C8 Corvette will be put on parts restriction. GM dealerships with body shops can enroll at www.genuinegmparts.com/for-professionals/general-motors-collision-repair-network.
We weren’t sure how to feel about this new regulation revelation; on the surface it makes sense but something about it also doesn’t quite sit right with us. After reading through all of the thread’s replies, we were left… even more torn on the topic. So, to help us and our readers make up our minds, we are going to put this prohibition of structural parts on trial. We combed through all of the responses to the original CorvetteForum.com post, sifted out any off-topic tangents, and selected the best arguments for and against GM’s new selective practices for C8 structural components.
Since Phil1098 brought this whole thing out into the open, we will let him make the first point in favor of General Motors decision here. In post #16 of the thread, in response to member, MagicGlass’ question about what makes the C8’s frame any different than the C7’s to repair, Phil responds with “I think the answer is quite a bit… They are doing things on this car that no body shop has ever seen before, so while it looks like control, it’s probably the only way to assure a main structural piece will ever be back in place with the same strength and safety as the original.”
Compelling stuff but the word “control” is where those opposed to the rule really started to take issue. This camp’s leader arose from the fighting city of Philadelphia with a retort that would have made the founding fathers proud, ArmchairArchitect states, “The answer to all that is that ultimately, it’s the consumer’s choice and GM should have no business dictating where a repair occurs on a vehicle they don’t own. This is yet another example of manufacturer creep on property rights (with a profit motive), akin to what John Deere and Apple have been doing. Secondly, GM can (and should) make the frame repair manual available to any body/frame shop, for shops to follow and for consumers to ensure the proper methods are used for the repair.”
Further Testimony and Cross Examination
Each side has some well-laid perspectives on the issue. Some other posts that we thought were worth sharing go as follows:
As a retort to Armchair’s stance, Phil states, “I think post #10 is where this will land. They aren’t dictating you have to use only a GM dealer, just that the shop has to meet a standard. It’s the shops decision whether or not they want to repair Corvettes,” piggybacking upon an earlier post (number 10) by Bob Paris, that said “You can still choose, it just has to be a GM certified shop. The point of the law is that the insurance company cannot dictate what shop you use. The law does not address the manufacturer having its own requirements,” which itself was in response to several mentions of state laws that allow consumers to choose where they wish to do business.
Ticat928 and Easy Rhino added that “GM is doing the right thing by taking control of C8 repair” and “Yup. Just because you can butter aluminum back together with a harbor freight welder doesn’t mean that you should. There are structural considerations including crushing strength as it relates to your survivability, and the insurance companies and GM know this.”
Multiple users also chimed in with experiences they’ve had with other manufacturers doing the same thing with their higher-end cars, with several drawing parallels between the C8 and Audi’s first go at a mid-engine car with the 2006 R8, a car that Audi installed similar rules to protect. EViL427 chimed in with an interesting sentiment, “Well, damn. My preferred collision repair place (15 years and counting) can’t service my wife’s Jaguar XE for the same reasons. I messaged him about this since they specialize in Corvettes. I’d be sad if they can’t work on my C8 (after I got over the heartbreak of wrecking it, of course).”
Others still smelled something fishy in regards GM’s intentions with this rule. We will let Armchair take it away again; “Getting “GM Certified” just means ponying up money to GM, another money grab. So, what now each body shop has to get certified by every auto manufacturer, and pony up money to each? There is already a universal I-CAR certification for body shops, and a specific ASE certification for collision.” Which was again answered by Phil and fellow pro-regulation poster, DSOMrulz who said “True, but in our litigious society, I’m not fully convinced GM has much of a choice” and “GM will still sell parts. But the shop has to be certified to show it knows how to repair aluminum structures. I think it’s a good thing that Joe’s Body Shop, who’s never touched a piece of aluminum in his life, isn’t going to be welding up wrecked C8 frames and reselling dangerous cars,” respectfully.
Similar back-and-forths came to define the thread and we urge any interested parties to head over and read the whole thing for themselves but we are still left with a conundrum.
Our freedom-loving American hearts want to support individual’s rights and stick it to “the man” but we have been pouring over of the C8’s fine technical details for months and the chassis truly is the most advanced piece of the new car. Many of us are hopeful second and even third owners and we have to side with the General on this one because we need to know that the cars will be in just as good of shape when we become their caretakers as they were for their original owners and that means assuring that any shop that works on the mid-engine structure is as close to 100% sure about what they are doing as humanly possible. As usual, Corvette Nation, we are interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter in the comment section below.
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