CCC, Mitchell, Audatex weigh in on panel 'break point' concept

Major paint manufacturers indicate that the repair shop must refinish towards the natural breaking reason for a panel to preserve a paint warranty, and insurers happen to be responsive to the idea of extending clear to that edge.

A January 2021 “Who Will pay for What?” survey found 82 percent of several hundred auto body shop respondents said leading insurers “always” or “most from the time” reimbursed try to extend clearcoat to its natural break.

However, the survey by Collision Advice and CRASH Network also found reports of eight major carriers only “some of the time” or “never” since the price of the work. And it’s possible quibbles might arise over the meaning of a rest point itself.

Recent responses collected through the industry’s free Database Estimating Gateway resource help clarify the topic from an estimating service’s perspective.



A DEG user on Dec. 16 described what seemed to be a dispute within the definition of break point.

“Within the P pages it states that the clear coat must carried to the nearest Break Point,” the consumer wrote regarding a 2021 Cadillac CT6 and the CCC P-pages. “On this particular case the damage would be to one quarter panel and also the clear coat needs to be taken UP on the roof and also over to the adjacent Pillar/Quarter panel. According to the insurance adjuster’s interpretation, a gap between two panels is not required and also the valley delineating the pillar from the roof is really a proper place to break the clear coat.”

The user quoted the CCC MOTOR Help guide to Estimating P-pages, which state:

CCC taken care of immediately the user by proclaiming that “when refinishing a “Welded-On Panel” the necessity would be to refinish towards the nearest ‘Break-Point’, because creating a Blend-Line at a ‘Non-Break Point’ may lead to ‘Refinish Deterioration’.

“Your example; ‘Repairing the Quarter Panel and also the Outer Surface of those parts will require some form of refinishing. The time essential to perform this kind of operation should be estimated after an on-the-spot evaluation of required procedure. MOTOR recommends these 4 elements be considered before finalizing any repair cost estimate.”

CCC also quoted the Refinish Clear Coat Application entry referenced above. That P-pages item states: “Most major paint manufacturers recommend that when performing refinish repairs with an OEM base coat/clear coat or multistage finishes, the application of clear coat must be extended towards the nearest panel edge or breakpoint to be eligible for a their lifetime refinish warranties.”

The estimating service inside a follow-up declared that “a hard stopping point” represented a breakpoint — as well as an area like this depicted in the image below wasn’t a breakpoint.

“A breakpoint would be a hard stopping point in a undetectable area which may be covered by a molding or the panel edge,” CCC wrote. “The look sent wouldn't be considered a breakpoint or panel edge.”

Essentially, the insurer was wrong, and the valley remains area of the quarter panel while refinishing towards the breakpoint.


Mitchell handled an identical question on the 2021 Cadillac CT6 with direction to see using the paint manufacturer.

Mitchell’s P-pages section on “Refinish General Information” contains the following entry:

“As discussed during our conversation, specific requirements to make sure a Lifetime Refinish Warranty should be based on the refinish paint manufacturer,” Mitchell wrote inside a DEG response.

“Per the process explanations, refinish times are for outside surfaces only unless stated otherwise in text .

“Published allowance for refinishing exterior surfaces includes adjacent panel perimeter masking. Perimeter masking includes the execution of back taping or use of foam tape to avoid overspray.

“Additional areas outside exterior surface refinish that may require refinish are identified by increase refinish operations. I.E. Add for pillar, Add for underside, Add for edge.”

A DEG account of the phone call with Mitchell further clarifies the information provider’s stance.

“Phone call discussed with Mitchell about this topic,” the DEG noted. “Confirmed that Refinish times for exterior panels are with exterior trims/ moldings/ glass etc. parts removed from vehicle panels being refinished. Exterior refinish times include normal closing of gap using adjacent panel perimeter masking, foam tape or backtaping methods inside lock pillar / gap between adjacent panel. If additional refinish required past the back tape/ foam tape to close gap mask line is needed, these refinish areas won't be contained in exterior surface. An at that moment evaluation is required to determine whether additional Add for Lock Pillar/ Edging operations is required.

“When refinishing the 1/4 panel with no enter roof, refinish time would allow necessary backtaping along seamed edge. This is not a definitive or not this is warrantied or not. Mitchell suggests verifying with your paint manufacturer.”


Audatex’s Database Reference Manual P-pages have a reference to a “breaking point” with respect to clear coat.

“Continuous Clear is understood to be the application of clear coat to an undamaged adjacent panel when no breaking point exists between panels,” the data provider writes within the P-pages.

But Audatex said hello couldn’t define “breaking point” when inquired about a 2021 Subaru Outback quarter panel, calling it a “case by case” question.

“We try to provide as much detail in the DBRM as possible,” the information provider wrote. “However, due to the varying circumstances of each repair scenario, we can't provide standardized definitions for each word found in the DBRM. The question you're asking falls into this category. Defining a break point between two panels is really a case by case basis, requiring estimator judgment for every specific scenario. Audatex doesn't define exactly what a break point is or is not.”

More information:

Audatex P-Pages

CCC P-Pages

Mitchell P-Pages