2015 F150 Body Shops

Any body shop owners have comments on the aluminum body F150? I was told that if you wreck it, it’ll be sitting in the body shop lot for awhile because it takes all new expensive equipment to repair them. Why? Most shops replace panels instead of beating and bondoing them. I would think the painting would use the same equipment already being used. Just curious

There are special procedures for working with the aluminum body panels, fasteners, and adhesives used on newer cars. Aluminum dust is also an issue if it gets on steel parts. The cost for a shop to set up is between 50 and 100k. Most large body shops will have the equipment and repair time is not any different.

I’m not a shop owner, but aluminum has been used for decades, primarily engines, suspension parts, and cradles

Many car manufacturers have been extensively using aluminum for body panels for several years now. And shops had to adapt

I think the answer is simple . . . a shop that is already set up and experienced working on aluminum Audis might not have a problem fixing an aluminum F150. They should have the experience, and the major difference would be that the Audi is unibody, whereas the F150 is body on frame

But shops often work on both cars and trucks, so the experience and expertise should be there, already

Adapt, or fall by the wayside

Some have already adapted

Some will adapt

Some have already fallen by the wayside

Some will not adapt, and will fall by the wayside

Thanks @db4690 and @SteveC76. I didn’t think utd be a big deal. The ford dealership said there’d be special equipment to purchase. I thought that was odd. I’d forgotten about the special adhesives that the F150 is utilizing. I’m trying to desiderata weather to get a new truck or wait a year. I’ve heard the insurance is really high on them too. That don’t make spence to me either. I may call Jake from State Farm tomorrow and see if it’s just another filthy rumor

If the insurance on a 2015 F150 is much higher than it was for a new 2014 F150 . . . when they were new, just a few months ago . . . then that might be a deal breaker

For me, anyways

From what I read, Ford dealers needed to spend somewhere north of $20,000 for the equipment and training to handle the new trucks. Ford was dealing with their dealers, not independent shops though.

I have a good friend who owns a large auto body shop in my town. I asked him about the aluminum body work on the new Ford trucks and he said he would pass on any of them for now. He stays very busy so it won’t make much impact on his business for the moment.

I’ve read that new equipment and training will have to be invested in, and it doesn’t surprise me. While aluminum has been common in cars for decades, it’s all in parts that get replaced and not repaired. But with a fully aluminum cab and bed, shops will have to be able to ‘work’ aluminum. A fender will get replaced, but if the corner of the cab is dinged, it’ll need to be repaired. I’m not a sheetmetal worker, never was, but I do know that aluminum bends, shrinks, and expands differently than steel. I have to assume that it’ll ‘work’ differently. I have to assume that it reacts different to a planishing hammer and a dolly.

If there’re any experienced metalworkers in the crowd skilled with both steel and aluminum, I for one would love to hear from you.

I suspect very different fasteners and adhesives will be a bigger problem than hammering out dents In the early 20th century aluminum was a very common choice for exterior body panels as it could more easily be hammered than the sheet steel of the time, which tore more readily. Aluminum’s ductility lets it be formed into very thin, but strong shapes fairly easily. You can see that in the making of an aluminum can. It starts as a simple disc that is then put through a series of dies that gradually stretch the metal to the full height of a can.

Even after the stamping of big sheet steel parts had been perfected custom coachwork for luxury cars was often aluminum. Body shop workers will no doubt have to learn many new skills, but I bet they won’t have too much trouble with simple dents. They probably already get a little practice with hail damage to hoods and minor dents in doors.

?? The majority of early 1900s cars were bodied in steel. Expensive custom bodies were occasionally in aluminum.

"The majority of early 1900s cars were bodied in steel. Expensive custom bodies were occasionally in aluminum. "

Additionally, during the 1920s, some cars had bodies made of fabric, like the early airplanes.

While that type of construction was more common in Europe, there were some upscale coachwork companies in The US that also used fabric (stiffened with “dope”) for body panels. Fenders were made of metal, naturally.

Quoting @EKHammer

"I may call Jake from State Farm tomorrow and see if it’s just another filthy rumor"
Remember you have to call Jake when he’s on duty in the wee small hours of the morning. (I wonder if that ad runs in all areas of the country.)

Please let us know what Jake says.

And here’s how aluminum (or aluminium) cans are made courtesy of the Discovery channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4TVDSWuR5E

The bonnets, boots and doors on MGAs are aluminum, as are bonnets and boots on MGBs, and entire airplanes. Body putty adheres just fine to aluminum parts. Painting bare aluminum requires a liquid etching step before priming, but other than that, it’s pretty straight forward for a shop.

Spent some time in a can plant. Never made aluminum but plenty of steel beer cans and aerosol and bottle caps. Actually it was a lot of fun but awful hard on the ears.

My bros and I drove a 29 Nash with wooden floor boards. It was different but we learned to work with it. We did have to adapt and add a new power tool…I believe it was a Husqvarna.

OP, you might find this article to be of interest:

If aluminum bodies catch on for common vehicles, body shops may have to also get some training in welding aluminum. I’m told by welder friend that aluminum has a very small plastic range and burns through really easily.

@shadowfax Thanks for posting the story. $900 for the rear taillight??? I cringed when the guy hit the truck with the sledgehammer. I couldn’t believe what little damage was incurred.

@“MG McAnick” thanks for the can video. I never would’ve thought a drink can was made from a flat disc of aluminum.

Amazingly, a CO2 cartridge (like for BB guns) also starts as a flat disc (of steel).

I’ve toured a facility that does “deep draw stamping” (the term used in industry) and it’s surprising what they can do.