Prior to the introduction of the 2015
Ford F150, aluminum was only used as a
primary body material on limited production
vehicles like Range Rovers, Jaguar XK
sedans, Audi A8s, and certain Mercedes-Benz
models. Accordingly, aluminum repair
expertise was usually limited to a few
high-end collision centers.
The F150, on the other hand, is America’s
best-selling vehicle, with about 700,000
units sold each year. This huge volume
translates into an increased demand for
qualified aluminum collision repair options.
How Aluminum Repair Differs from Steel
“So what?” you might say, “body work is body
work.” In the case of repairing aluminum vs.
steel, this couldn’t be further from the
truth. There are big differences between
working with these two metals, and shops
that are not qualified to make aluminum
repairs can cause serious harm to the safety
and value of your vehicle.
What’s the difference between aluminum
collision repair and steel collision repair?
Here are the major differences:
1. Aluminum doesn’t have metal memory like
This means that when aluminum is dented or
bent, it cannot be reshaped back to its
undamaged state as easily as steel. A body
repair technician needs better skills to
reshape an aluminum panel without damaging
it beyond repair, as well as
aluminum-specific tools like an aluminum
dent pulling station.
2. Aluminum reacts to heat much differently
Aluminum conducts heat much more than steel,
which means that heat travels through
aluminum farther and faster. This makes
welding aluminum parts more difficult.
Welding aluminum requires both special
welders unique to aluminum repair and the
the skill to weld precisely.
Since excessive heat will compromise the
integrity and strength of the metal,
improper aluminum welding can create vehicle
safety issues if the car is involved in an
accident. With the Ford F150, many parts of
the aluminum structure are joined not by
welds, but by special rivets and adhesives.
Joining these parts requires unique tools
that are not used in traditional collision
repairs. Special training is also needed to
make these repairs properly so that the
strength and safety of the vehicle is
3. Aluminum and steel don’t play well
Unfinished aluminum and steel are actually
corrosive to each other. If shavings from
one metal contact a panel made of the other
metal, damage is immediate. Even using a
tool to repair an aluminum panel that was
previously used to repair steel will cause
corrosion on the aluminum panel!
Because of this, a completely separate set
of tools is required in order to repair
aluminum. In addition, aluminum body repair
must be performed in an area that is
separate from the area where steel is
repaired, as even steel dust is corrosive to