Print 74 comment(s) - last by jimbojimbo.. on Mar 26 at 11:57 AM

Body shops face huge costs to gear up and train for aluminum vehicle repairs

Mainstream auto manufactures have used aluminum in the construction of vehicles for a number of years. However, most of the panels on cars and truck were traditionally made from stamped steel, while in some cases hoods and trunk lids were made from aluminum.
With Ford rolling out the all-new F-150 that uses a body made 95 percent from aluminum, the future looks expensive for body shops charged with fixing vehicles after an accident. Reports indicate the costs of tools and training at body shops could soar.

The Aud A8 has been primarily constucted of aluminum for nearly two decades
That would lead to labor rates at the shops rising as well, leading to more costly repairs. Ford is blazing the trial into mainstream vehicles made mostly of aluminum, but other manufactures will follow. Making broader use of aluminum to reduce the weight of vehicle is one of the big ways that automakers plan to meet CAFE standards handed down by the White House.
Some body shops will have to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in new training and equipment to be able to repair the aluminum used in Ford trucks. Smaller body shops might not be able to justify the cost, which could be a big benefit to dealer-owned body shops.
“Not every shop in America will be equipped to repair the new F-150,” said Dan Risley, president of the Automotive Service Association. “It’s cost prohibitive because there aren’t a lot of vehicles on the road with aluminum, so the return on investment could take a few years. When you throw aluminum into the mix, everything changes.”

The 2015 Ford F-150 will be the first mainstream vehicle to make wide use of aluminum throughout its body structure
He says that less than 20 percent of body shops will be equipped to fix aluminum body structures. Shops certified to fix high-end European brands like Porsche, Jaguar, and Audi cars that are used to working with aluminum will be the best ready to deal with the influx of new aluminum vehicles needing repairs.
Ford is not the only company that will employ extensive use of aluminum in full-size pickup trucks. General Motors announced last month that its next generation Silverado and Sierra will use the lightweight material.

Source: Detroitnews

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RE: Yup
By BRB29 on 3/24/2014 11:05:22 AM , Rating: 3
That depends on how thick the aluminum is. Most of the time, aluminum used is not as thick as steel used so damaging it is easier.

Besides that, I agree with you. However, I think the pros far outweighs the cons. Most of us can care less to fix a door ding. Major damage doesn't exactly happen every year for most people. Even minor damage doesn't happen that often.

The lower weight should really help with safety in collision. If every car lose 500 lbs, we would see a massive increase in survival rates when accidents occur. We would also see a substantial fuel economy gain as well. Maintenance costs should also be lower as things will tend to break or wear out less.

RE: Yup
By FITCamaro on 3/24/14, Rating: -1
RE: Yup
By Argon18 on 3/24/2014 11:38:24 AM , Rating: 5
"Yeah until a semi hits you and tears through you. Or a dump truck. Or any other larger vehicle."

You're right, we should all be driving dump trucks. That's the solution. Facepalm.

Or maybe you meant that the old all-steel F-150 would keep you save in a collision with a dump truck? A dump truck weighs between 13 and 27 tons. That's 26,000 pounds and 54,000 pounds. Do you honestly think a few hundred pounds difference in 4,000 pound F-150 would affect the collision outcome at all, vs. a 54,000 pound dump truck? Really?

You're an idiot.

RE: Yup
By BZDTemp on 3/24/14, Rating: -1
RE: Yup
By Camikazi on 3/24/2014 2:17:23 PM , Rating: 5
In the US a ton is 2000 lbs so he is right since that is the measurement they are most likely using. Also, even using a long ton measurement you are wrong since 2,240 (long ton weight in lbs) x 13 - 29,120 lbs and 2,240 x 27 = 60480. Unless you mean a metric ton in which case you are right, but you are so smart assuming he was wrong without even checking to see if maybe there are differences in the units.

RE: Yup
By BZDTemp on 3/24/2014 7:13:19 PM , Rating: 2
I stand corrected and should go eat some humble pie.

I should have checked and not just presumed. The thing is I'm actually so used to see people here using metric units and the German pound and overlooking that the pound used in the UK/US and many other places is different. Since the German pound is 1/2000 of a metric ton I simply thought that here was a case of a wrong conversion from metric ton to UK/US pound.

RE: Yup
By StevoLincolnite on 3/24/2014 7:33:04 PM , Rating: 5
You would hate to fly a plane then.
You have knots, pounds, kilo's, liters, gallons, kilometers, miles, you name it all mixed together and the pilots need to understand all the measurements.

It would just be easier if the USA and UK caught up to the rest of the developed world and ditched imperial and went fully metric.

RE: Yup
By alpha754293 on 3/24/2014 3:49:37 PM , Rating: 1

"To avoid confusion with the smaller short ton and the slightly larger long ton, it is also known as a metric ton in the United States."

Source. wiki, "tonne". (SI unit for 1000 kg)

RE: Yup
By Samus on 3/25/2014 1:56:53 AM , Rating: 3
Physics will easily prove your theory of bigger and heavier is safer completely false.

Creative scientific research, new-age materials and intelligent engineering make vehicles safer, not simply weight.

There are dozens of instances where weight will actually decrease safety, specifically by extending braking distances, reducing handling, increasing potential rollover, and so on...

Go look up a crash test of an old vehicle vs a new vehicle in a head-on collision. A common one comes to mind from Fifth Gear: 2000 Ford Focus head-on with an 85' Volvo 240DL (once considered the safest car on the road.)

RE: Yup
By atechfan on 3/25/2014 5:16:24 AM , Rating: 2
They should make cars out of memory phone. They would completely deform in a crash, protecting the occupants with their soft, foamy goodness. Then a few minutes after the crash, they would revert to their original shape, allowing you to continue on your way, completely eliminating the need for repairs.

Yes, I know, I'm a genius. Nobel dudes, I'm expecting a call.

RE: Yup
By bcrules82 on 3/24/2014 11:42:59 AM , Rating: 1
Troll harder can we? Drivers of semi-trailer trucks are professional drivers with ALOT more road time and experience than the average driver. You don't know what you're talking about.

RE: Yup
By Camikazi on 3/24/2014 2:18:28 PM , Rating: 2
They are also rather crazy and scary to ride next to on the highway.

RE: Yup
By BRB29 on 3/24/2014 12:07:42 PM , Rating: 3
Commercial vehicles are for professionals who depend on their license for their career. I'm pretty sure they will try hard to avoid accidents. Little punks with civic coupes or their 99 camaros/firebird seems to think they own the road.

You missed the point completely. If everyone makes/drives lighter cars, everyone will be better off. We'd have less of a trade deficit as well.

RE: Yup
By Jeffk464 on 3/24/2014 12:55:41 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, I'm pretty sure its easier to make a 3000lbs car perform well in crash tests than it is to make a 5500 full size suv. Plus you have the physics of two 3000lbs cars crashing into each other being less energy to dissipate than two 5500lbs SUV's.

RE: Yup
By Dorkyman on 3/24/2014 2:30:16 PM , Rating: 2
But I think this misses the point.

Oh yeah it's great for gas mileage to make "every" car 500lb lighter. But barring an edict from above (even Obama wouldn't dream of such an Executive Order) you're going to be dealing with light cars and regular heavy cars. And the light car will ALWAYS lose.

Like the gun argument. Ban all guns, and deaths will drop. Ah, but what if most people don't have guns but the bad guys decide to keep theirs? Still have a lot of gun deaths.

RE: Yup
By SeeManRun on 3/24/14, Rating: -1
RE: Yup
By FITCamaro on 3/24/2014 3:59:17 PM , Rating: 1
How the heck are lighter vehicles going to lower our trade deficit?

RE: Yup
By laviathan05 on 3/26/2014 10:11:13 AM , Rating: 2
Well, we import a lot of steel from Asia, whereas aluminum comes mainly from North America.

RE: Yup
By jimbojimbo on 3/26/2014 11:57:28 AM , Rating: 2
If everyone makes/drives lighter cars, everyone will be better off
If everyone actually worked instead of sitting on their asses expecting the government to pay for everything we'd all be better off too. If everyone stopped killing each other we'd be better off. Every one of those ifs would make the world better but will never ever happen... well, until all humans were destroyed.

RE: Yup
By bug77 on 3/24/2014 2:10:22 PM , Rating: 1
The "skin" of your car is not a safety element. Though mass, by itself, is. Especially in head-on incidents.

RE: Yup
By Etsp on 3/24/2014 12:33:20 PM , Rating: 2
You might want to rethink your logic in the increase in survival rates thing...

If two cars hit head-on at 2500lbs each, they would have the same rate of deceleration on impact as two cars going the same speed weighing 2000lbs each. The rate of deceleration is what causes injuries in accidents (when the passenger area isn't compromised).

RE: Yup
By moremilk on 3/24/2014 1:56:56 PM , Rating: 2
For one, it's not the deceleration rate that's the main problem, and, also, most accidents are not head-on collisions. Don't have stats, but I would suspect most happen at an angle, it's really difficult to have a head-on collision as most high speed roads have dividers.

and even in a head-on collision, there's a BIG difference between two smart cars colliding and two freight trains, the energy released in the 2nd scenario is many orders of magnitude higher. Even though the kinetic energy gets transferred instantly to your car in both scenarios, you get a heck of a lot more from a heavy vehicle. That energy pushes all sorts of debris towards you at higher speeds and that makes those debris much likelier to cause a fatal injury.

Of course, you are partially right in that any injury caused by sudden loss of velocity will not be significantly different. I don't have any idea what proportion of death causing injuries are external trauma vs internal injuries due to displaced organs (I presume that's what happens when you stop on a dime from high speeds - could be wrong) - empirically I would have thought external trauma is much more likely to kill you.

RE: Yup
By Etsp on 3/24/2014 2:09:00 PM , Rating: 2
You're in the car going 60mph. That car decelerates to 0mph in 0.5 seconds. You're going to be damaged by the seat belts, you're going to be damaged by the air-bag, you're going to be damaged by any of your limbs hitting the dashboard. Possible neck injuries due to whiplash.

The point of air-bags and seat-belts is that it's a LOT less damage than hitting the windshield or steering wheel with your head. Seat belts also enable crumple zones to extend the duration of deceleration.

RE: Yup
By theapparition on 3/24/2014 3:48:59 PM , Rating: 2
Please put down the high school physics book and walk away from the computer.

A crash isn't completely elastic. There are lots of other factors to consider. Even in your example of two cars with the same weight, the different crumple zones can drastically affect on occupants survival over anothers.

RE: Yup
By Etsp on 3/24/2014 3:59:06 PM , Rating: 2
So, if all vehicles on the road were 500lbs lighter, we would see a "massive increase in survival rates when accidents occur" ? I don't believe that's true, and that's the point I was trying to convey.

If you can provide a better argument for why that is/isn't true, feel free to enlighten us.

RE: Yup
By Solandri on 3/24/2014 5:51:11 PM , Rating: 1
All other things being equal, a heavier car will be safer simply because a greater percentage of the weight can be devoted to safety; be it longer crumple zones or stronger passenger cages.

The idea that "vehicles would be safer if they were all lighter" refers to one very specific case. In a head-on collision between a light vehicle and a heavier vehicle moving at the same speed, the lighter vehicle actually bounces backwards.* It winds up traveling in the opposite direction it was before the collision - most of the impact energy is transferred to the smaller vehicle.

If both vehicles had similar weight (you can make the heavier vehicle lighter, or the lighter vehicle heavier), the crash energy is more evenly distributed lowering the chance of injury. This is the first time I've seen half of the solution to that very narrow situation incorrectly overgeneralized to encompass all cars.

* BTW, elastic or inelastic doesn't matter for this result. It's a consequence of both momentum and energy needing to be conserved. The only thing inelasticity affects is how fast the smaller car is moving when it bounces back. In the worst-case (completely elastic collision), it ends up moving backwards faster than it was moving forward before the collision. In the completely inelastic case, its final velocity is based on the sum of the momentum of the two cars, which is backwards for the smaller car since it has less mass.

RE: Yup
By gerf on 3/24/2014 8:26:34 PM , Rating: 2
Given that more mass is safer, and that car weights are generally decreasing, I'm going to increase my mass in the only way I know how.

Eating lots and lots of Big Macs.

RE: Yup
By Mint on 3/25/2014 9:59:24 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're being a little hasty in your conclusion here.

Yes, deceleration rates will be the same with two 2-ton cars or two 2.5-ton cars. But a big part of safety is preventing passenger cell intrusion, and mass unrelated to structural integrity (like body panels) makes a car more deadly for others without being any better at taking a hit.

RE: Yup
By syslog2000 on 3/24/2014 5:54:54 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure if that is entirely accurate. Shouldn't it be the amount of energy that needs to be dissipated that affects the outcome?

Two 2500lb cars will have a lot more joules of energy that need to be dissipated compared to the 2000lb cars.

It follows that the 2000lb crash will cause less damage.

Or am I thinking wrong about this?

RE: Yup
By Solandri on 3/25/2014 1:08:57 PM , Rating: 3
Kinetic energy is 0.5mv^2, so it scales linearly with the car's weight. A 2500 lb car has 25% more kinetic energy as a 2000 lb car, but it also has 25% more mass. So the amount of energy each pound of the car needs to absorb is the same when two 2500 lb cars collide, as when two 2000 lb cars collide.

Where you run into problems is with size. If you double the weight of the car, the metal structures which comprise the crumple zones and safety cage for the passenger compartment need to be doubled in strength. But doubling the strength in one direction isn't enough - it needs to be doubled in all three directions. You end up with 2^3 = 8x the amount of required material. (Actually you don't need quite so much because most collisions are when traveling forward - spin-outs where you hit sideways are rather rare.)

So what you end up with is a bathtub-like curve. Smaller cars are more dangerous because they have insufficient weight allowance for safety features (the minimum being based on the weight of the occupants, which doesn't become smaller just because you've got a smaller car). Really big cars are more dangerous because their mass requires the safety features to take up a greater percentage of the weight, and again have insufficient weight allowance for safety features. And cars in between occupy a happy medium where they're able to fit in the requisite safety features within their weight budget.

If they're switching to lighter materials like aluminum, that says they're already at the lower limit of the weight allowance. So further mandated cuts will increase the temptation to shave a few pounds off the safety structures. This already has already become an issue in the rollover safety test. It's impractical to actually roll the car over to test the strength of its roof, given that there are so many angles at which a rollover could happen (collisions OTOH almost always happen with the car traveling forward). So the government and IIHS made a test which puts pressure on the roof at a certain angle. Another group tried testing at different angles and found the roof performed much worse at those oblique angles, meaning the designers are saving weight by optimizing for the test rather than for real-world situations.

RE: Yup
By Hammer1024 on 3/24/2014 2:02:38 PM , Rating: 5
Yup & yup.

I own a BMW Z3. I had to have the hood replaced rather than repaird because an idiot at a light decided to backup without looking behind them.

First words out of my mouth were "Are you kidding me?!".

The shop first tried to hammer it out... Yeah. RRRrrriiiippp!

So instead of a $700 bill, it went to $2200.

Thankfully, this was on the idiot.

RE: Yup
By Reclaimer77 on 3/25/2014 8:26:20 PM , Rating: 1
The lower weight should really help with safety in collision. If every car lose 500 lbs, we would see a massive increase in survival rates when accidents occur.

This is an asinine statement, no offense. I don't mean you're stupid or anything, it's just this statement is pretty ignorant of the facts and physics.

If your Fiat 500 loses 500 lbs, and the Ford Explorer smashing into you is also 500 lbs less, you haven't changed anything. Your vehicle still suffers from the same proportional mass transfer as before the weight reduction.

Maintenance costs should also be lower as things will tend to break or wear out less.

How is going from steel to aluminum body panels going to cause lower maintenance costs due to thinks breaking less? Please explain that one to me, because it makes no sense.

RE: Yup
By jimbojimbo on 3/26/2014 11:53:50 AM , Rating: 2
If every car lose 500 lbs, we would see a massive increase in survival rates when accidents occur
But that's the problem. A lot of people are buying bigger and heavier cars because they want to survive an accident better than the other person. They will want everybody else to buy lighter cars. That If will never happen because people care just about themselves.
I drive a small sedan and keep a fully stocked first aid kit in the trunk so don't point at me.

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