As far as the manufacturing of your vehicle is concerned, the materials used for different makes and models aren’t always the same, either. Consider the 2015 Ford F-150 – the world’s first aluminum-body pickup truck – versus the Chevrolet Silverado with its steel body parts; not only do these two metals differ in weight, they also have contrasting wear patterns and malleability. Consequently, aluminum body repair techniques are not the same as steel or fiber glass repair techniques.
What are the key differences between steel and aluminum body repair?
The key differences between steel and aluminum body repair revolve around four key factors: memory, risk of corrosion, heat tolerance and cost.
1. Metal Memory
Steel is a unique metal that features a quality repair technicians refer to as “memory.” That means once a piece of steel is forged into a certain shape or position, the steel is inclined to remember this position for the remainder of its existence. For example, if you have an accident that disrupts the shape of a steel component on your vehicle, this component can be easily reformed back into its intended shape with minimal effort and/or skill.
Aluminum components are not so lucky; they do not feature memory-like qualities. Thus, technicians tasked with repairing an aluminum vehicle component must know how to utilize special tools in order to reshape the aluminum pieces without breaking them or causing damage to neighboring components.
2. Risk of Corrosion
Did you know that when steel and aluminum come in contact with each other, they create an unsavory reaction known as galvanic corrosion? In order to prevent such a circumstance from plaguing your vehicle, knowledgeable technicians will utilize a completely different set of tools on aluminum repairs than they use on steel repairs, thus eliminating the chance of the repair site becoming galvanically corroded after the job has been completed.
3. Heat Tolerance
In the world of auto body repair, some jobs require a degree of welding in order to obtain the desired results. Thus, it is important to understand that steel has a much higher heat tolerance (2500°F) than aluminum (1,220°F), making the latter much more difficult and unpredictable for an unknowing technician to work with.
4. Aluminum Repair Work Costs More (for now)
With Ford being the first manufacturer to adopt aluminum components, the knowledge and skill required to complete a repair properly can be expensive. For auto body shops that don’t understand how to work with aluminum components, these prices can be even higher, even though the repair results may suffer.
Shur-Way are your aluminum body repair experts.
Shur-Way has a long, rich history of bringing innovation to the St. Louis region. Back in 1971, we were the first auto body shape in our area to adopt water-based paint techniques, a repair tactic that is now considered the gold standard among auto repair shops from coast to coast. Now, we’re the first auto body organization in St. Louis to be aluminum body repair certified! That means we know how to give your injured Ford F-150 (and soon-to-be, Chevrolet Silverado) the love and care it deserves.
With the cost of gasoline fluctuating weekly, and the need for vehicles to continuously improve gas mileage, the usage of aluminum bodies among auto manufacturers will only increase. That means one day, you may need an expert who understands aluminum body repair, inside and out. For the sake of you and your vehicle, we hope you think of Shur-Way.