Loose and missing lug nuts have resulted in terrible car wrecks, severe injuries, fatalities, bad publicity and expensive litigation.
“Our technicians would never forget to reinstall and tighten the lug nuts on a wheel.”
Unfortunately, it happens many times each year and the business owners involved probably said the same thing, before it happened to them. In the insurance industry, these incidents are known as “completed operations” claims, and may result in nuisance or catastrophic claims.
Nuisance claims, like when a wheel falls off a customer’s car and causes minor damage after your technician rotated the tires, can adversely affect profitability. Catastrophic claims, like when a wheel comes off while your customer is on the highway and causes a multi-fatality accident, can cost millions of dollars and put you out of business.
Protect your business by using basic Quality Control (QC) techniques. Many businesses wait until they have suffered a catastrophic accident to implement QC programs. It is critical to be proactive. Review your current work practices, identify weaknesses and implement the necessary QC programs. Be sure to address everything from hiring procedures and employee training to job procedures and quality checks of completed work.
The following guidelines will help you implement an effective program at your business.
It starts with people
Hire the best people you can find.
Conduct pre-employment and post-accident drug screens. (Consult with legal counsel before conducting drug tests.)
Confirm prior job history.
Verify qualifications ASE certified technicians are preferred.
Establish job-specific procedures
Develop written job procedures for all critical tasks or duties.
Teach them “your way” of performing the job correctly it is dangerous to rely solely on previous job experience and employers that may have used haphazard training methods.
Focus extra attention (training, supervision, etc.) on new employees.
Provide initial, ongoing and refresher training on critical job functions.
If you need help, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) has excellent training programs. Visit their website at www.tireindustry.org.
Have managers or supervisors observe technicians on a regular basis to ensure that they adhere to written job procedures.
Develop a QC system
Managers or supervisors should spot-check all completed work, especially work performed on safety-sensitive equipment such as tires, wheels, brakes and steering components.
Technicians should crosscheck each other’s completed work.
Whoever checks the work should sign the repair order acknowledging he did so.
Use the system
As indicated above, developing a written procedure is imperative. The procedure must be part of a system. This QC system should ensure that every wheel that leaves your business is properly installed.
The system ensures that a QC check is completed after each job.
The system can require that a manager (or another technician) check one lug nut on each wheel when the job is completed. Another example is to assign one technician to tighten the lug nuts on each wheel to an initial torque setting, to be followed by a second technician who tightens them to the manufacturer’s specification.
Remember to include the following in your QC system
Thoroughly inspect the studs, wheel and the tire for bead, sidewall or tread damage.
Review manufacturer’s specifications to ensure tires are the proper size for the vehicle.
Provide technicians with current manufacturer’s specifications on lug nut torque for original equipment wheels, aftermarket, custom and specialty wheels.
Teach technicians to use the recommended lug nut tightening sequence, crisscross and star pattern, when tightening lug nuts (different patterns required for 4-, 5-, 6-, 8- and 10-lug wheels).
If a vehicle is brought in for multiple service i.e. oil change, brake job and tire rotation, require technicians to complete one job before moving on to the next one.
Require technicians to fully tighten one wheel at a time, do not allow employees to “finger tighten” one wheel and then move on to the next one. This is a frequent cause of someone “forgetting” to tighten the lug nuts on one wheel.
Use of a dependable, calibrated torque wrench to properly torque lug nuts is recommended. Calibrated air tools or specialty tool extensions are other options.
Include a notice to the customer on the repair order that lug nuts should be re-torqued within the first 25-100 miles of installation.
Courtesy of Zurich American Insurance Company.
For more information about Zurich Financial Services Group, go to: http://www.zurichna.com.