Ford Aluminum Body Repair

Did you know that aluminum is more expensive than steel, and has typically been used for high-end vehicles like the Acura NSX, BMW i8, Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Jaguar XJ, Tesla Model S 60, and other luxury cars? In 2015, Ford began making the Ford F-150 with a primarily aluminum body. As the best-selling car in the United States, this signified a significant shift in automotive trends. We predict many American car brands will follow suit in the near future. How do you know you’re trusting your Ford to a great auto body shop? Are they Ford Aluminum Certified? We are! Here’s a few of the aluminum repair requirements put out by Ford to becoming certified. Ford Aluminum Body Repair

SHOPS MUST:

1. Have a work separation system that isolates aluminum vehicles from vehicles undergoing steel repairs – separation can be a separate room or curtain system

2. Have a designated set of hand/special tools specifically for aluminum vehicles to prevent from cross contamination with steel body vehicles. The inventory must contain all required hand tools per Ford F-150 Collision Repair Program

3. Utilize a 220v Pulse MIG welder specifically for aluminum vehicles

4. Utilize a dent extraction system specifically designed for aluminum that contains an aluminum stud welder, heat gun, pyrometer, aluminum hammers and dent extraction system

5. A specialized aluminum SPR (Self Piercing Rivet) gun approved by the Ford Paint and Body Technical Center – currently only the Chief, Henrob and Pro Spot SPR riveters are approved

6. An Immersion-Type, Wet Mix dust extraction system or pneumatic (air operated) vacuum system dedicated to aluminum dust – The system can be portable or centrally installed system

7. I-CAR® FOR06 – 2015 Ford F-150 Structural Repair Training Course

8. I-CAR® WCA03 – Aluminum GMA (MIG) Welding Certification

9. I-CAR® FO007E01 – 2018 Expedition & Navigator Aluminum Body Repair (2 technicians must complete – web-based)

 

For more generalized technical repair capability, here’s what Ford lists as their requirements for certification:

SHOPS MUST:

1. Meet I-CAR® Gold Class® or equivalent with proof of ongoing technical training (assessment required)

2. Subscribe to current OEM repair procedures and have the ability to provide documented proof of compliance

3. Utilize a frame rack or dedicated/universal fixture bench, with appropriate vehicle anchoring and pulling capabilities

4. Utilize an electronic three-dimensional vehicle measuring system

5. Maintain a current data subscription for the measuring system being utilized

6. Provide proof of technical training to operate the measuring system being utilized

7. Utilize an R134a refrigerant recovery/recycling system or proof of a qualified sublet provider

8. Have the ability to conduct and verify four-wheel alignment either in-house or through a sublet provider

9. Have the ability to remove, replace and reinstall steering and suspension components, as well as engine and drive train units

10. Have the ability to perform pre- and post-repair vehicle diagnostic scans and proof of calibrations

11. Have a spray booth with forced drying capabilities

12. Utilize an OEM approved refinishing system

13. Provide proof of product training for the refinishing system being utilized

14. Have an above ground lift with a lift capability of at least 7,000 lbs

15. Utilize pressure-feed, anti-corrosion compound and application equipment

16. Have a documented Quality Assurance/Quality Control system

As you can see, there is quite a lot that goes into being a certified Ford Aluminum Repair Shop. Trust the pros at Cline Collision Center for all of your aluminum repair needs. Schedule an appointment today!

How To Fix A Dent In Aluminum

In the past, aluminum body panels were only found on European vehicles. Now that there’s a large scale of aluminum on the Ford F-150, other car brands will likely take onto this new style as well. Unlike steel, that remembers its original position, aluminum does not. It needs to be reformed, which can take more time, but it is well worth the wait. To repair and pull the damaged area, the panel must be heated to 400°F to allow the metal to soften. Aluminum dissipates heat very quickly but can become permanently changed if heated past a certain point, and that point is approximately 750°F. The heated panel can now be pulled and while pulling the material it is being work hardened to set the new memory of the collision repair.

How To Fix A Dent In Aluminum

Repairing aluminum dents also requires a special tool set. This is a major reason in itself to only trust your vehicle to the experts of a certified aluminum body shop like Cline Collision Center. If a body shop uses the same tools on aluminum that they use on steel, they can cause further damage to the aluminum than when the vehicle first showed up at the shop. One mistake can damage the panel beyond repair. Trust the pros at Cline Collision Center. Don’t take it from us, here’s one of our 5-star customer reviews from Alicia G on yelp.

“There are many places in the area to take your car after an accident, I’m glad I took mine to the right place. Not only did Cline Collision Center make my car look brand new again, but Joe was professional and helpful throughout the process of my auto repairs. They sent me text messages containing the progress of my vehicle, and even encouraged me to come visit my car whenever I’d like. I hope I don’t need their services again anytime soon, but if I do I know I won’t be disappointed”!

Here’s another fabulous review from Katherine G. on Yelp:

“I can’t say enough about my experience at Cline! I did my homework beforehand by getting estimates from 3 other Santa Rosa shops, and Cline was the most personable and reasonable. The shop is clean, professional and welcoming Joe spent ample time with me and answered all of my questions and concerns. I felt like I was the most important customer on the docket! I was kept informed every step of the way, and when I picked up my car, it took my breath away! I highly recommend Cline Collision Center”.

Don’t wait! Give Cline Collision Center a call today to schedule an appointment . We’ll have your vehicle looking spectacular in no time, with our professional and certified aluminum body repair technicians.

Aluminum Body Repair Cost

On average, aluminum body repair costs more than steel body repair. However, don’t panic! There are a few common reasons why. For starters, shops like Cline Collision Repair have loads more training, and access to professional resources to stay up to date with the latest changes and advancements in the aluminum body repair industry. As a certified shop, it is a lot easier to get what we need, and we already have the specialty tools and training necessary to get the job done. This makes the work cheaper for you. If you were to bring your vehicle into another shop that is not certified, brace yourself for sticker shock. They likely do not do the repairs as often and must search out additional training for your job specifically. This can make your costs skyrocket. Working with aluminum is not any more difficult of a task than working with steel, it is just different. Now that the Ford F-150 is aluminum bodied, other body shops should be catching up with these changes. After all, it is consistently the USA’s most popular pickup truck every year. The cost will be less for aluminum body repair when you choose a professional certified shop like Cline Collision Center. Don’t be tempted by a low estimate of a shop that is not certified. This can back fire and cost you significantly more than before.

Aluminum Body Repair Cost

Take it from one of our customers, John M., who left us this 5-star review on yelp:

“There are a lot of body shops to choose from on Piner Road, but Cline is a cut above the rest.  The shop is always immaculately clean, the service writers and the repair techs are courteous and professional and the level of attention they pay to detail here is impressive.

I had the front bumper nearly to torn off of my Chrysler, and they had me in and out in 30 minutes and on the road after clipping it back in place.  100% recommend these guys for any collision or incidental damage repairs; they are the real deal”.

Or another from our happy customer Anthony M.

“My car, a 2014 Kia Optiama, was at Cline for both front end and rear end damage (Totaling about $9,000). Dealing with Joe for the quote process was painless. No appointment, I just dropped in, it took 12 minutes’ tops. Cline dealt with the insurance company, had enterprise pick me up… It couldn’t have gone smoother. I loved that they use the CarWise.com service so I can login online and check the status of my repair and even get text/email updates. Pickup was delayed by a few days due to a wrong part, but it was over a holiday weekend and I was out of town anyway so it worked. When I picked up the car yesterday I was shocked. It looked brand new, the paint match was impeccable, the bumper/lights/panels all lined up evenly and snugly and the cheery on top was a full seemingly professional wash and detail (It was cleaner than when I drove it off the dealer’s lot brand new) 10/10. If you’re reading this after an accident thinking about taking your car here, do yourself a favor and just do it, you won’t regret it”.

Nobody wants to be involved in a collision, but if that day arises, Cline Collision Center is the body shop you’ve been looking for.

How to Repair Aluminum Body Panels

What makes a body shop like Cline Collision Center unique, is that not all aluminum is the same, but we know how to work with each type. Different vehicle manufacturers use different types of aluminum with different alloys, along with characteristics. There’re multiple ways to repair an aluminum panel, which is why the Ford Certified Body Shop Program exists- to help shops learn the differences and how to work with each of them. Why do aluminum panels exist anyway? They promote better fuel economy. Everyone loves to save on gas! How to Repair Aluminum Body Panels

Aluminum behaves differently than steel. Once it is reshaped it forgets its original form and will take on a new shape, unlike a steel part that will remember the form it used to be in. It is a work hardened material. When aluminum is stamped into shape it becomes stronger. After the panel is bent in a collision it becomes stronger. Flex it too much and it breaks or cracks, like a bent spoon. To repair and pull the damaged area, the panel must be heated to 400°F to allow the metal to soften. Aluminum dissipates heat very quickly but can become permanently changed if heated past a certain point, and that point is approximately 750°F. The heated panel can now be pulled and while pulling the material it is being work hardened to set the new memory of the collision repair.

A thin coating of aluminum oxide forms after being exposed to the air in as little as 15 minutes. This oxidation has a much higher melting temperature than the original aluminum material and a stud will not fuse correctly to the panel. Aluminum’s melting point is 1,200°F and aluminum oxide is 3,700°F. The oxide can be removed using a stainless-steel brush.

A few tools you will need are an abrasive grinding disc, inline removal tool and stainless-steel brushes to remove the paint and oxide coating. To shape the metal, it must be softened. Heat to the to the appropriate temperature with a digital temperature set heat gun for heat control. Aluminum has a high thermal conductivity and heat travels throughout the panel rather than in a concentrated spot. Some technicians use the aid of coworker to heat the area while the other uses the dent pulling tool. If you go above 750°F the structural rigidity of the part could be permanently annealed.

As you can see there’s a lot that goes into aluminum body repair. Trust the pros at Cline Collision Center to get the job done right the first time!