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Why choose CertifiedFirst?™

Every day, across the nation, thousands of motorists are involved in auto accidents. The question soon becomes, “Where’s the best place to get my vehicle repaired properly and returned to me as quickly as possible?”

For most, the auto body repair process is an unfamiliar one — one that occurs, on average, only once every seven years. And there’s a lot at stake: In many households, a vehicle is among the largest assets owned— second only to the home. What’s more, the family automobile often represents the only means of getting to work or school.

With so much riding on the decision, it’s no wonder that many people look to a qualified resource — a recommendation from a friend, family member or insurance agent — to help them make the right choice.

Now, there’s another great way to identify repair facilities with a reputation for taking good care of their customers: The CertifiedFirst Network.

The CertifiedFirst Network is comprised of dealership and independently owned auto body repair centers that meet high standards for customer satisfaction, and offer impressive levels of quality, courtesy and professionalism.

In short, CertifiedFirst is a name to be trusted in the auto body repair industry.

We aim to please

The aim of every CertifiedFirst approved repair facility is to deliver maximum customer satisfaction – the highest level of quality repair work and professional service. You can always expect to receive prompt and courteous attention from each and every one of them. This includes their commitment to keeping you fully informed about the work being performed on your vehicle while it is in their hands.

To assure that your vehicle is restored to its pre-accident condition each CertifiedFirst repair facility is committed to using properly-trained technicians, modern, well-maintained equipment and premium quality paint refinish products.

Lifetime guarantee

CertifiedFirst® Lifetime Paint Performance Guarantee In addition to the facility’s own warranty on workmanship (a minimum 3-year written warranty), the paint work performed by a CertifiedFirst repair center is guaranteed for as long as you own your vehicle* — priceless peace of mind you won’t find at less qualified auto body repair centers. And, because the guarantee will be honored by CertifiedFirst participants throughout the country, you can carry this extra measure of confidence with you wherever you go throughout North America.

What’s Covered* The CertifiedFirst Lifetime Paint Performance Guarantee covers the areas of the vehicle refinished with specified CertifiedFirst products for as long as the customer owns the vehicle. The refinished areas are covered for the following paint failures: Peeling or delamination of the topcoat and/or other layers of paint

Cracking or checking Loss of gloss caused by cracking, checking and hazing Any paint failure caused by proven defective CertifiedFirst approved paint materials which are covered by the guarantee *See actual guarantee provided by your repair center for a list of exclusions and limitations

3rd party verification

Not just any repair center can become CertifiedFirst® To assure your utmost satisfaction, each participant must measure up to the program’s high standards.

Therefore, the CertifiedFirst designation can’t be bought. It must be earned. To participate in the CertifiedFirst Network, a repair center must first meet stringent requirements in the following areas: Have adequate facilities and equipment Provide the full range of necessary auto body repair service

Utilize designated products Offer a prescribed warranty on the workmanship and paint finish Consistently achieve high levels of customer satisfaction Who determines whether the requirements are being met? An independent source, of course! Compliance to CertifiedFirst standards is independently verified by:

UNDERWRITERS LABORATORIES INC. (UL) Every CertifiedFirst auto body repair center is visited each year by a representative of Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), a not-for-profit organization retained by the Network to provide independent source verification and inspection services. UL is responsible for ensuring that the facility conforms to the program standards for customer amenities, auto body repair equipment and more.

THE GOOD HOUSEKEEPING SEAL The premium finishes applied by certified technicians at a CertifiedFirst Network repair facility have been evaluated by the trusted Good Housekeeping Institute, and have earned the Good Housekeeping Seal.

CUSTOMER RESEARCH, INC. High Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) levels must be met and maintained, according to surveys conducted annually by Customer Research, Inc. – a company that has specialized in market research for the automotive industry since 1967. Customer Research, Inc.will utilize the methodologies developed on behalf of the Network by one of the nation’s foremost customer satisfaction authorities.

These third-party verification entities assure your utmost satisfaction when you take your vehicle to a CertifiedFirst approved repair center.

Find a certifiedfirst approved repair center

CertifiedFirst™ Approved Repair Centers are easy to find There are many repair centers to choose from, but only a select group meets the stringent facility, equipment, personnel, warranty and customer satisfaction requirements needed to become part of the CertifiedFirst network.

With our shop locator, we have made it easy for you to search for the CertifiedFirst Approved Repair Centers that are closest to you.

When will be my car be ready?

Overview A quality repair job involves many steps. In order to keep you informed all along the way, CertifiedFirst approved repair centers* provide an on-line repair tracking service that allows you to track the current repair status of your vehicle.

To find out where your vehicle is in the repair process, enter your Repair Order number (RO#) and CertifiedFirst Shop ID number OR enter your User Name and Password if you have used this service before and have already created one.

Useful information

What do the letters R&R mean on my estimate? It isn’t always easy to understand “repair shop” language. That is why we have provided a useful glossary of “repair shop” terms to help you with those confusing words that you might encounter on your way to having your car repaired.


We have compiled a list of the most confusing terms in the repair shop industry. If after reading through this list, you still require further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Aftermarket Parts Automotive replacement parts that were not made by the original equipment manufacturer.

Air-drying The process of drying fully during exposure to air at normal temperatures. Alternate Term(s): Drying

Basecoat ( BC ) / Clear A paint system in which the colour effect is given by a highly pigmented basecoat. Gloss and durability are given by a subsequent clearcoat.

Bench A heavy metal platform used to restore a vehicle’s structural geometry to factory specifications. This is done by securing a portion of the vehicle to the platform, then pulling appropriate areas of the vehicle into place using special clamps, chains and hydraulic winches. Aternate Term(s): Frame Rack, Frame Machine

Betterment Term used to describe an item replaced due to an accident that has some wear. The practice is often applied to tires and batteries that are several years old. If a battery has used up 3/4 of its life, the Insurance company will pro-rate the item’s cost and in this case will pay 1/4 of the cost to replace the battery and will ask the insured or claimant to pay the remaining 3/4. The premise being that the Insurance Company is only obligated to return the vehicle to its pre-accident condition.

Chip Guard A chip resistant, protective coating normally applied to lower panels to avoid sharp stones etc. chipping the paint finish.

Chipping The removal of paint from a substrate by means of impact of sharp stones etc.

Clear or Clear coat The clearcoat imparts gloss and protection to a basecoat clearcoat system. It is essentially a pigment-free paint.

Coat A single layer of paint on a surface.

Compounding The action of using an abrasive polishing material either by hand or by machine. Alternate Term(s): Polishing

Corrosion Degradation of the metal substrate by oxidation. That is the formation of an oxide layer on the metal surface. This process requires that the metal surface be exposed to oxygen, and is favoured in the presence of water. In the case of iron and steel, corrosion is often referred to as rusting.

Degreasing The removal from the substrate of contaminants which would otherwise give rise to surface defects and performance failures. E.g. poor adhesion.

Detailing Final cleaning both inside and outside of vehicle, application of pinstripes, removal of overspray from underhood, trunk lids etc. as well as polishing

Direct Gloss ( DG ) A topcoat paint which contains pigment and resin, and gives the required gloss level without the need of the application of a clearcoat. A DG Paint film has good weathering and durability characteristics.

DRP Acronym for Direct Repair Program. These programs often involve a contractual agreement between an Autobody Repair Center and an Insurance Company. For the most part, the agreements set the rules of repair and standardized procedures such as warranties, billing practices and record keeping.

Drying The process of change of a coating from the liquid to the solid state by evaporation of solvent, chemical reaction of the binding medium, or a combination of these processes. When drying takes place during exposure to air at normal temperatures, it is called ‘air-drying’; if it can be accelerated by the application of a moderate degree of heat it is called ‘Force-drying’ (or Low-bake), as distinct from High-bake. Alternate Term(s): Binder, Air-drying, Force-drying, Stoving, Low-bake, High-bake

Edge-to-edge repair A term denoting a complete panel repair as opposed to a touch-up or spot repair. Alternate Term(s): Spot repair

Enamel A topcoat paint which forms a film by chemical crosslinking of its component molecules during the cure.

FEA Acronym for Front End Alignment. Generally appears as a line item on a repair estimate or repair order. It will sometimes be accompanied by 4-W or 4-Wheel alignment. This simply means that the vehicle needs to have all wheels aligned.

Gloss The degree to which a painted surface possesses the property of reflecting light in a mirror-like manner.

Hazardous Waste Any unusable by-product derived from the repair and/or painting process that cannot be disposed of through normal waste disposal streams. These products can be potentially harmful to the environment and require special handling as well as professional disposal. Federal, State and Local laws apply and may differ in their scope.

LKQ Acronym for Like Kind and Quality. Refers to a used part salvaged from another vehicle. It is inspected by the seller and re-inspected by the shop upon receipt and accepted if it is deemed appropriate.

Masking Temporary covering of areas not to be painted.

Metallic A term used for finishes incorporating fine metallic particles, usually aluminium, in the paint.

Mica A naturally occurring mineral, based on silica, which after treatment, is used as an effect pigment in coatings. Their special property is that light falling on a mica particle, depending on the angle of illumination, reflects the light with a change in colour. Because of this they are sometimes referred to as pearls. Alternate Term(s): Pearl

Motor manufacturer’s primer An undercoat system applied by the manufacturer to the metal surface of a commercial vehicle or to new automobile panel parts to give protection during transit, storage, etc. and which, depending on its type, age and condition, may be able to support the finishing system. It may consist of more than just a simple primer coat. Alternate Term(s): OE Primer

Pearlescent See “Mica”. Alternate Term(s): Mica

Pigment The colouring matter in paint. A pigment is different from a dye in that a pigment is insoluble in the media in which it is used.

Prep The process of washing, degreasing and lightly abrading a panel prior to applying paint. Alternate Term(s): Prep Work

Pretreatment (metal) The chemical treatment of unpainted metal surfaces before painting, for enhanced adhesion and corrosion resistance.

Primer The first layer of a coating system. Applied to an unpainted surface. Its’ role is to protect the substrate and to prepare it for the application of a surfacer or topcoat. It must therefore have above all, excellent adhesion to the substrate and to the coating which will follow.

Primer-Sealer An undercoat which improves the adhesion of the topcoat, and which seals old painted surfaces that have been sanded.

Primer/surfacer primer/filler A pigmented composition which acts as a primer and at the same time has filling properties such that it may be sanded to provide a smooth surface for the colour coat that is to follow.

Putty A plastic material with a high mineral filler content – used for filling deep holes or wide gaps.

R&I Acronym for Remove and Install. Refers to a part removed from the customer’s damaged vehicle to be saved and reinstalled after the repair has been completed.

R&R Acronym for Remove and Replace. Refers to a part removed from the customer’s damaged vehicle that cannot be acceptably repaired. It is replaced with a new part.

Repair Authorization The point at which a Consumer authorizes the repair to their vehicle (and in some cases contingent upon the Insurance Company settlement process).

Rubbing compound An abrasive paste that smoothes and polishes paint films. Alternate Term(s): Polishing compound

Sanding An abrasive process used to level a coated surface prior to the application of a further coat. Alternate Term(s): Flatting

Sealer An undercoat which improves the adhesion of the topcoat, and which seals old painted surfaces that have been sanded.

Solid colour A coating which contains coloured pigments only, i.e., does not contain pigments such as aluminums and micas.

Solvent A liquid, usually volatile, which is used to reduce viscosity. This is essential in both manufacturing and application processes. Solvents evaporate during application and drying of paint and therefore do not become a part of the dried film. In conventional coatings the solvents are organic compounds (Alcohols, Esters and Ketones) whilst in waterborne systems there is a mix of organic solvents with water.

Substrate The uncoated/unpainted surface.

Supplement Additional repairs needed to complete the repair that were not identified on the original estimate

Tack rag Cotton fabric, such as cheesecloth, lightly impregnated with a resin, used to remove dust from a surface after rubbing down and prior to further painting. Tack rags should be stored in an airtight container to conserve their tackiness.

Tape marking The imprint caused by applying masking tape on to a newly-applied paint film before it has time to harden.

Thinner A blend of volatile organic solvents added to the paint to reduce it to the correct viscosity for application.

Three Coat colour A topcoat colour which consists of 3 parts, a basecoat, a midcoat and a clear. Alternate Term(s): Tri-coat

Tint and Blend The process of mixing toners to match the existing paint finish, then blending or overlapping the color into the adjacent panel to avoid color match problems.

Tinter Any coloured pigment or paint mixture used to make small adjustments in colour, or to the mix the colour in the first place from a mixing scheme. Alternate Term(s): Base colour

Top coat The final layers of a coating system whose role is primarily decorative. However the topcoat often imparts protection to ultra violet light present in sunlight.

Touch-up A localised repair usually confined to the smallest area possible (for example, repairs due to stone chips damage).

Two-pack A paint or lacquer supplied in two parts which must be mixed together in the correct proportions before use. The mixture will then remain usable for a limited period only.

U.V. Absorbers Chemicals added to paint to absorb Ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight.

Ultra Violet Light That portion of the spectrum which is largely responsible for the degradation of paint films. Invisible to the eye, causes sunburn.

Undercoats A first coat; primer, sealer or surfacer.

Unibody The structural support found in most late model vehicles.

VIN Acronym for Vehicle Identification Number. This is a unique number that identifies your vehicle. Although its primary purpose is to identify your vehicle, it often contains important information concerning the equipment and options that were installed on your vehicle at the factory. This information allows the Repair Center to order the correct parts for your vehicle. Any professional estimate or Repair Order will have this number on it.

What to do in case of an accident?

One in eight is pretty high! According to the National Safety Council, one in every eight drivers will be involved in a motor vehicle accident this year. That may mean you! Are you prepared? Would you know what to do and what questions to ask?

Here is a list of 11 easy steps to remember, as compiled by the National Safety Council:

1. Stop your vehicle if it is clear, safe and legal.

2. Move the vehicle out of the traveled roadway, if it is clear, safe and legal. (In some states it is against the law to move the vehicle from the place where the accident occurred. Check the ordinance in your area.)

3. Turn off the ignitions of the cars involved.

4. Make a first aid check of all persons involved in the accident.

5. Call the police and, if necessary, emergency medical services.

6. Mark the scene of the accident with flares or retroreflective triangles.

7. Gather the names* of all persons in the motor vehicles and people who witnessed the accident.

8. Make a quick diagram of where the vehicle occupants were seated and indicate the vehicles’ direction of travel and lane. Also note the date, time and weather conditions.

9. Ask to see the other driver’s license* and write down the number.

10. Exchange insurance company information. DO NOT discuss “fault” or make statements about the accident to anyone but the police.

11. Get a copy of the police report of the accident from the local precinct.

Strategic Partners

3M AUTOMOTIVE AFTERMARKET Visit for our full line 3M Automotive Aftermarket Product Catalog.

Click here to learn more about the 3M Automotive Aftermarket.

NATIONAL AUTO BODY COUNCIL (NABC) In partnership with PPG, a proud corporate sponsor of the National Auto Body Council, the NABC is pleased to offer discounted membership rates to all participants in the CertifiedFirst Network.

Click here to learn more about the National Auto Body Council (NABC).