Inspections are an integral part of most auto repair operations. The inspection process usually involves a checklist of items to be evaluated as to their need for repair immediately or in the future. The inspection process can be vastly improved by including the methods by which a part should be evaluated or tested along with the expected results. In many cases documenting test procedures would be overkill as testing only requires a couple steps that are obvious. However in some cases documented test procedures can be invaluable. They can ensure that complete end to end testing is performed and that test results are documented. They can act as a control on the quality process.
The inspection process can be extended to quality assurance and control. When a major repair is done on a vehicle tests are performed to ensure that the requirements were met and that no negative side effects were created. These tests can be performed by executing written test plans which are comprised of a list of steps with anticipated results. If problems are found – the vehicle is returned for repair and the process is repeated until all items in the test are passed. Creating a plan for testing ensures that no steps are missed and it can also serve as part of the review process in the event that defects get through the control process. Documenting test steps and results allows us to identify weaknesses in the testing process and make improvements where necessary.
Test plans should be only be employed where they make sense. Simple test procedures that only require a few steps shouldn’t require detailed testing procedures. However, complex major changes should be tested thoroughly and a documented test plan can make the process easier and more reliable.
Testing and quality checking can be performed at different levels. The quality assurance testing performed at the point of production by the technician can be referred to as unit testing. The quality control testing performed after the repair work is complete can be referred to as integration testing. At the quality control or integration level not only is testing performed on the specified repairs but potentially affected areas can also be tested. At any level following planned test procedures can ensure that quality goals are met.