Collision Industry Terms and Terminology


Activator: Additive used to speed up the curing of paint resins
Anticorrosive: Materials applied to metal to give corrosion resistance
Assembly: A number of auto body parts that are either bolted or welded together forming a single unit


Basecoat/Clearcoat: Type of paint coating
Betterment: Term used in the insurance when a part such as a tire is replaced, and the insurance company pays for the unworn part and the customer pays for the amount that was worn
Binder: Resin used to hold the pigment in a paint film


Cast: Tendency of one color to look like another
Caulking Compound: Semi or slow-drying plastic material used to fill crevices or seal joints
Chemical Staining: Spotty staining or discoloration of the paint topcoat caused by atmospheric conditions (acid rain, tree sap, etc.)
Chipping: Condition of the finish flaking off or chipping away from the surface underneath
Clear: A coating of paint that has no color
Clearcoat: A clear, shiny coat of paint (e.g. acrylic or urethane enamel) applied over the base or color coat of paint on a vehicle
Clip: A group of related vehicle parts purchased from a salvage yard as an assembly (usually the complete front or complete rear section of a vehicle). Also known as Salvage Clip.
Color Coat: A clear, shiny coat of paint (e.g. urethane or acrylic enamel) applied over the base or color coat of paint on a vehicle
Color Retention: When a color is exposed to the elements and does not change, it is said to have good color retention.
Contaminates: Any polish, tar, wax, oil, acid, and the like that would damage the paint film or spoil the adhesion of a new paint film


Darken: By eliminating white, solid colors become darker; eliminating metallic flake makes metallic colors darker.
Data Sheets: Sheets that contain the required measurements for straightening the frame or body to specifications
Datum line: Imaginary line that appears on frame blueprints or charts to help determine correct frame height
Direct Damage: Damage that occurs to the area that is in direct contact with the damaging force of the impact
Disintegration: Dried film of a finishing material completely breaks down
Driers: Salts of certain metals or metallo-organic compounds, which when added to an enamel, paint, varnish, or oil hasten the drying or hardening of the film through proper ventilation


Economy Part: Any new vehicle part of accessory that is purchased from a source other than the OEM part distribution network
Elastic Limit: Amount that a piece or a metal panel will bend without causing distortion or separation in the structure of the material
Emblem: Decorative piece of plastic or metal attached to a vehicle
Enamel: Pigmented alkyd varnish usually characterized by a glossy surface. Dulux is such a pigmented synthetic resin solution.
Energy Absorber: Device used on bumpers to absorb energy from a collision
Epoxy Resins: Resins obtained by the condensing reaction that occurs between phenols and epichlorohydrin
Estimate: The written determination made by an appraiser or estimator, upon inspection of a damaged vehicle, regarding the cost required to restore the vehicle to the condition it was in prior to the loss
Estimate Document: Form on which the cost of accomplishing repairs is written; often used as the basis for repairs
Estimated Time: Amount of time given to repair or remove and replace an item or part
Estimator: An appraiser or insurance company representative who inspects a damaged vehicle and determines the cost required to restore the vehicle to the condition prior to the loss


Face Bar: Large chrome-plated extrusions that provide protection for both front and rear of an automobile and which are generally held in position by means of brackets bolted to the side rails of the frame
Fade: Denotes the change in the color of a surface coating where and when such a coating has been subjected to sunlight. It is a dying away or bleaching action.
Finish Coat: The last coat of paint to be applied. This coat will usually determine the amount of gloss.
Flake: Material added to a color for a metallic or iridescent finish
Flat: Finish will no luster or gloss
Flop: Appearance of a color when viewed from any angle other than straight on, this is also known as its pitch. The pitch is usually off when working with iridescent colors.
Frame Alignment: Procedure by which the frame of a car, truck or bus that has been damaged in an accident, or from wear, is restored to the manufacturer’s specifications
Frame Gauges: Used in determining the type of misalignment that has occurred and also the extent of the damage
Frame Rack: Equipment used to repair damaged frame and unibody members


Garnish Moldings: Moldings that fit around the inside of door, windshield and rear window openings, generally held in position by countersunk metal screws
Gloss: Shine, sheen, or luster of dry film
Grommet: Plastic or rubber insulator used to protect electrical wires or other lines from being damaged by the sheet metal edge
Guide Coat: Coat of a different color from the other coat is used to serve as a guide coat in rubbing or sanding to determine when a smooth surface has been reached


Hardener: Special additive designed to promote a faster cure of the enamel paint film
Header Bar: Framework or inner construction that joins the upper sections of the windshield, pillars, forms the upper portion of the windshield opening and reinforces the turret top panel
Hue: A basic color such as green, red, blue, violet, yellow, orange. Hue is determined where the color would fall generally on the color wheel.
Humidity: Water vapor present in the air in varying amounts
HVLP (HIGH VOLUME, LOW PRESSURE): Type of paint spraying system that uses a high volume and low pressure of atomizing air to apply material to a surface. Reduces over spray of product into the atmosphere


Indirect damage: Any damage that occurs as a result of direct damage
Induction Baking: Heat used for baking finishes, induced by electrostatic or electromagnetic means
Iridescent: Color that contains aluminum, mica, or other partials that add a metallic appearance in color. Iridescent is also known as metallic.
Isocyanate: Additive that is part of many paint and plastic hardeners; injurious to the lungs


JIG: Mechanical device for holding work in its exact position while it is being welded


Knit: Adhere or bond together


Lacquer: Refinishing material that dries by the evaporation of the thinner
Lateral Runout: Amount a wheel moves from side to side when rotated, due to being bent
Let Down Panel: Panel made by a paint technician with different methods of application and amounts of material, resulting in different shades of the same color
Leveling Out: Flowing or settling to a smooth, uniform surface
Lifting: Disruption of a paint film by the application of a succeeding coat, caused by the solvents of the succeeding coat penetrating and partially dissolving or swelling the preceding dried film
Lighten: Addition of white to make solid colors lighter; the addition of metallic flakes makes metallic colors lighter.


Masking: Application of paper or other material and masking tape to cover an object that must be protected from overspray
Masking Paper: Paper designed to prevent paint bleeding through the resist water soaking to a certain degree
Masking Tape: Special paper that is coated with adhesive used to protect body parts or to attach masking paper to the vehicle
Matching: In painting, to make colors look the same
Metal Conditioner: Acetic acid preparation that is used to prepare metal, remove rust, and etch the metal slightly to provide a good adherence between the metal and the paint
Metal Finishing: Operation in which hidden surface irregularities are detected and removed by means of filing and picking the straightened metal unit all low spots have been eliminated and a perfectly smooth and level surface is obtained
Metal Stamping: Process of manufacturing auto body parts in which straight sheets of metal are placed in between dies operated by huge presses and die formed or stamped into the finished part
Metallic: General term applied to finishes containing aluminum particles
Moldings: Metal or plastic parts used to beautify a vehicle or to protect the panels from damage


Nameplates: Ornaments with the vehicle’s name that identifies the make of the vehicle


O.E.M.: Original equipment manufacturer. Usually refers to replacement parts for a vehicle that were made by the same manufacturer as the car, rather than replacement parts made by a different manufacturer
Offset: Part that has an abrupt change in dimension or profile of an object
Opaque: Impervious to light; not transparent
Original Finish: The paint sprayed at the factory by the manufacturer
Oxidation: Combining with oxygen


Paint Arrestor: Filer used to clean the air of paint fumes before it is exhausted
Paint Film: Coating of paint that is applied to a material
Paint Remover: Blend of solvent used to remove enamels, lacquers, and varnish
Paint Strainer: Filter that cleans paint as it is poured into the paint gun
Pearl Luster: Paint system that uses mica chips to give a pearl effect in the paint film
Pigment: Any particle used to impart color. Must be fine, insoluble, dry, and solid.
Pitch: Appearance of a color when viewed from any angle other than straight on; this is also known as flop. The pitch is usually off when working with iridescent colors.
Polyester Filler: Putty-like filler used in filling slight imperfections and low spots on panels
Polyester Resin: Bonding liquid that forms a good bond with fiberglass surfaces only
Primary Colors: Main colors from which other colors are formulated
Primer: Undercoat applied to improve color coat adhesion
Primer Coat: Used in a paint system to improve adhesion; requires sanding
Primer Sealer: Undercoat that improves the adhesion of the topcoat and seals the old painted surfaces


Quarter Panel: Side panel that is generally a quarter of the total length of the vehicle and extends from the rear door to the end of the car


Refinish: Term used to designate that a part or a vehicle is to be repainted
Reflow: Heat process used to melt lacquer to produce a better flow or leveling
Relieving: Process of removing and correcting stresses in a panel due to collision damage
Retarder: Slowly evaporating thinner used to retard drying
Rocker Panels: Assemblies of box type construction located directly below the doors, that are not only spot welded to the cowl assembly in front and to the rear quarter panel assembly at the rear, but also to the side of the under body section
Roof Rail: Reinforcements welded to the pillars and to which the roof panel is welded


Sag: A type of frame damage where one or both side rails sag at the cowl causing buckles to form on the top of the side rails
Sandblaster: Piece of equipment used to clean metal using sand and pressurized air
Sander: Power driven tool used with abrasives to sand car bodies
Sander Polisher: Power tool used to speed up the rate of polishing or sanding surfaces
Sanding Block: Hard rubber or plastic flexible block used to provide consistent backing for hand sanding
Sealer: Paint product used to prevent bleed through of the previous coat or the sinking in of the new paint
Shade: Variation of color. Assuming that a color is generally blue, it can have a red shade or a yellow shade as well as being blue. Shade is also called undertone since it describes the subtle tone of a color.
Sinking In: Term applied when one coat is partially absorbed by the previous one
Spot Repair: Small refinish repair job where a small section of a panel is refinished
Spray Booth: A closed area, with moving air, used to paint a vehicle
Spray Gun: A device that sprays paint using compressed air and controls the spray pattern as the paint leaves the nozzle
Sublet: Work contracted to a third party
Sublet Repairs: Repairs to be performed for a negotiated or contract price, or by a subcontractor. All applicable materials, labor, markup, and taxes should be included when a Sublet Repair is indicated.
Substrate: Surface to be painted, whether an old finish or bare metal
Supplement: Created if a change or addition must be made to an estimate where a final print has been produced
Surface Drying: Drying of the topcoat while the bottom coats have remained soft


Tack Coat: The first enamel coat
Template: Pattern made from a part so that another part can be made to the exact shape
Thinner: Commonly known as lacquer solvent, which reduces the viscosity of a lacquer to spraying consistency (thins the paint)
Tinning: Applying a thin coat of material to metal to improve adherence
Tint: Mixture of two or more pigments
Tinting Color: Finishing lacquer or enamel in which only one pigment or color is normally used
Top Coat: Last of final color coat
Transparent: Bases that contain a small amount of pigment so that it can be seen through
Tricoat Paint Job: Paint systems that use a base color coat then a pearl luster coat, followed by a clear coat
Twist: Frame damage where both side rails are bent out of alignment, so that they do not run horizontally parallel to one another
Two-tone: Two different colors used on a single paint job


Undercoat: Material used to protect the underbody sections of a vehicle


Viscosity: Thickness of a fluid; resistance to flow


Weathering: Change in paint caused by weather