Terms & Definitions

MOST COMMON                                                                                CAR FAX's Terms and Definitions Click here

OEM = Original Equipment Parts from the manufacturer
LKQ = Like, Kind, Quality Parts a terms used by insurers for imitation parts
Salvage, Recycled = Parts from donor vehicles in salvage yards that have already been totaled
Steering = Any attempt by an insurer to get you to take your vehicle to a shop that you do not choose
Claimant = Any party damaged by someone else
Insured = Any person filing a claim with their own insurer for an accident that is their fault    


Aftermarket Parts

Automotive replacement parts that were not made by the original equipment manufacturer.
Replacement parts that are produced by a source other than the manufacturer of your vehicle.
They are a cheaper alternative to new OEM parts. 


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 color effect is given by a highly pigmented basecoat. Gloss and durability are given by a subsequent clear coat.

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.
Alternate Term's): Frame Rack, Frame Machine
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 itemís cost and in this case will pay 1/4 of the cost to replace the battery and will ask the insured (not claimant) to pay the remaining 3/4. The premise being that the Insurance Company is only obligated to return the vehicle to its pre-loss condition.

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


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

Clear or Clear coat

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


A single layer of paint on a surface.

Competitive estimates I NEED A COMPETITIVE BID?
There is no law requiring you to get more than one appraisal; however, if you have never used a repair facility in this market, we would recommend that you get several estimates
and choose one shop that you feel most confident in to repair your vehicle. Often times, insurers ask for a second estimate or competitive bid.
While in some markets this may be customary, as owner of the vehicle, it is your choice where you take your vehicle. Sometimes a competitive bid is misinterpreted as lower bid.


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


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 favored in the presence of water. In the case of iron and steel, corrosion is often referred to as rusting.

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


Final cleaning both inside and outside of vehicle, application of pinstripes, removal of overspray from under hood, 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 clear coat. A DG Paint film has good weathering and durability characteristics.
Acronym for Direct Repair Program. These programs often involve a contractual agreement between an Auto body 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.

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, Stoking, 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


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


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.


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.


Acronym for Like Kind and Quality. Refers to a used part salvaged from another vehicle.

Temporary covering of areas not to be painted.


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


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 color. 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
Paint-less dent repair
Paint less dent repair is a repair method that utilizes equipment and training to repair damages without paint work in most cases. 
Often times this type of repair is better , faster, and more competitive than conventional repairs

See "Mica".
Alternate Term's): Mica


The coloring matter in paint. A pigment is different from a dye in that a pigment is insoluble in the media in which it is used.
Preferred Shop
Preferred shops is a term used to describe a contractual relationship between a shop and an insurance company.
Shops may become a DRP (direct repair provider) usually by offering discounts on parts and/or labor for non-guaranteed repair volume.


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.


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.

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 color coat that is to follow.

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

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.


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

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

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

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


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.

The uncoated/unpainted surface.


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.


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

Three Coat color

A topcoat color 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.


Any colored pigment or paint mixture used to make small adjustments in color, or to the mix the color in the first place from a mixing scheme.
Alternate Term's): Base color
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.


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


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.


A first coat; primer, sealer or surfacer.
The structural support found in most late model vehicles.


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.