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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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RE: Great Scott!
By shadow002 on 3/24/2014 2:00:52 PM , Rating: 2
There is a huge advantage that no one here has mentioned yet....Aluminum doesn't rust like steel and if i'm not mistaken, Audi still offers a 25 year warranty for the models that are built with aluminum, like the A8 sadan.

So for the folks living way up north where winters can be brutal and the use of road salt/abrasives used in mass quantities to keep roads drivable, but eat thru steel like nobody's business and becomes visible once the car in question is 5 years old on average, aluminum will be appreciated i'm sure.


RE: Great Scott!
By Dr K on 3/24/2014 2:26:07 PM , Rating: 2
You can make a general statement that aluminum is better than steel with respect to corrosion, but it really depends on the specifics. Corrosion of aluminum depends on the specific alloy, the component it is used for and the environmental conditions -- the same is true for steels as well. The oxidation product for Aluminum is white/gray instead of orange like rust, which makes it much less noticeable, and in some cases it creates a self sealing layer on the surface that can prevent additional corrosion from taking place.


RE: Great Scott!
By shadow002 on 3/24/2014 2:40:41 PM , Rating: 3
Well since quite a lot of parts inside the car are aluminum, such as suspension parts, sub frames and engine and transmission and all of those remain in perfect working order even well after the steel body panels have started to rust, I think they got that worked out pretty well.

Same goes for planes where they employ a huge amount of aluminum on the outside of the plane and in the structure, and they're rated to fly for 25 years in terms of the structure of the plane without corrosion or metal fatigue.

I think they know which alloys to pick...


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