Since it was announced years ago that the new generation of the Ford F-150 pickup launching for 2015 would feature a body consisting largely of aluminum alloy, the issue of the metal’s relative difficulty of repair was raised. “How will existing body shops, very much used to working with thin-gauge steel bodies, be able to repair dents and dings in a far less-pliable material?” many asked.
Others, aware of the techniques and equipment particular to aluminum repair, were occupied with questions of just how many body shops would ever bother to upgrade.
Now, we have an insider’s perspective on the repair issues facing the Ford F-150’s aluminum-intensive body, thanks to website Body Shop Business. The website’s Mitch Becker today published a thorough, retrospective look at what’s changed within the body shop industry since the arrival of the aluminum-bodied Ford F-150.
The matter of F-150 body repair largely comes down to a question of ROI – or Return-On-Investment. According to Becker, plenty of shops that hadn’t previously done much – if any – aluminum repair jumped to upgrade their facilities’ equipment and train their employees for the anticipated influx of aluminum work. Other shops were slower to upgrade, if they indeed upgraded at all, counting on the sales ramp-up and therefore mix of aluminum-vs-steel repairs to be gradual.
In the end, the ROI has varied from shop to shop, but Becker says that as we see more and more current-generation Ford F-150 pickups on the road, the extra training and equipment required for aluminum repair ought to start paying-off more rapidly – especially as other automakers follow Ford’s lead. What’s more, “Ford did the repair industry a service and increased shops’ abilities not just in aluminum repair but other areas,” he writes.
“Having better welders and becoming more aware of the requirements needed for many other types of repairs and procedures (not just for Ford) has benefited everyone.”
For more, check out Mitch Becker’s piece on the Ford F-150’s aluminum body and what it’s taught the body repair industry at BodyShopBusiness.com.