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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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This is an over exaggeration IMO.
By GotThumbs on 3/24/2014 11:58:56 AM , Rating: 2
I find it very hard to believe that it will actually take thousands of hours to learn to work with the new materials.

One, when possible, shops will simply replace the dented fender with a completely new part, just as they do now. Recycle the old one....done.

Also steel aftermarket panels could be an option as well. Ford is only doing this to meet the EPA's new standards. Once you own the vehicle...its not an issue IMO.

Just seems like a chicken little story IMO, but time will tell. Of course I won't be owning any of these vehicles anyway, so its a non-issue for me.

~Best wishes keeping what you earned.

By GotThumbs on 3/24/2014 11:59:39 AM , Rating: 2
Just a way shops will justify charging more $$$.

RE: This is an over exaggeration IMO.
By BRB29 on 3/24/2014 12:13:16 PM , Rating: 2
The reason why body shops charge a lot of money for aluminum body work is demand and supply. Both are low.

If every vehicle are aluminum then more people will be trained to work with it. Tools and machines will be made in mass scale for aluminum. Things will get cheaper. As of right now, only expensive cars aluminum like Jaguar.

RE: This is an over exaggeration IMO.
By ven1ger on 3/24/2014 2:44:43 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds about right.

Cars before used to have fiberglass and material wasn't really malleable and in collisions, the fiberglass panels would have to be replaced.

By CBRworm on 3/25/2014 11:42:20 AM , Rating: 2
The reality is that there are already a lot of cars that have aluminum panels, and have for years.

I had to have the hood of my 8 year old infiniti fixed and repainted a couple years ago out of pocket due to not wanting to do an insurance claim. I went to a great shop and had the job done right without any drama or obscene expense.

They seem to have been able to make some kind of filler stick and I can still see no evidence of where it is. The biggest issue that they told me was that they had to strip and respray the entire hood due to it being aluminum.

Maybe Ford people won't want to go to a higher end body shop, but the shops certainly exist that can work with this newfangled material.

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