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What You Need to Know About Aluminum Auto Body Repair

When you think about car manufacturing, you probably don’t think of aluminum auto body repairs. Instead, you think of classic steel cars. Over the last few decades, they traditionally made cars from steel. Even today, about 54 percent of all American cars use steel to make them, but things have been changing. The fueling shift comes from changes in technology, more environmental awareness, economic factors, and safety. We see an increased number of automakers transitioning over to aluminum. With this increase in the popularity of aluminum, let’s take a look at what you need to know about aluminum auto body repair.

Aluminum Auto Body Repairs vs Steel Auto Body Repairs

Aluminum is more pliable than steel, and steel will return to its original form because of a concept known as “metal memory.” While many alloys including steel have metal memory, aluminum doesn’t have this. You need special tools to pull out dents with aluminum. Using an aluminum dent-pulling station has become the norm at auto body shops today.

The other thing that makes aluminum auto body repair different from steel comes from the fact that aluminum doesn’t react as well to heat. You put too much heat on aluminum and it will harm the structural integrity. Most auto body shops will use other methods besides welding to connect the parts of a car with extensive aluminum.

Let’s take the Ford F-150 as an example since it uses many aluminum parts. It joins the aluminum parts with the steel parts using special adhesives and rivets. Even if we have experience with steel, we can’t use the same techniques on aluminum because we would ruin the car. Welding aluminum incorrectly can lead to safety hazards because the metal decays at high temperatures.

The technicians who work on aluminum auto body repair also require special and advanced training techniques to do it right.

Why Has Aluminum Gained Popularity?

Looking at all of that, you may wonder why people would use aluminum at all. It does have advantages, but in the past, only supercars were made from aluminum. Now, many cars use aluminum materials to one degree or another. The reason behind this is that the government continues to push stricter requirements on fuel economy. How do you get better fuel economy? You lower the weight of your car, which you can achieve with a lightweight aluminum body.

It may be more complicated to fix, but the fuel savings will outweigh the cost of the repairs. All aluminum vehicles will shed about 40 percent of their body mass, which improves your economy at the fuel pump by 18 percent.

Surprising Number of Benefits

To sum it up, there was a reason why supercars would use aluminum bodies over traditional steel. Because aluminum weighs less, you can make your doors and panels thicker. This greater thickness will allow it to withstand collisions better. Lightweight vehicles can also accelerate faster and handle better than heavier cars. This is because it requires less energy to move the car with a lighter mass.

Believe it or not, aluminum cars also meet up to safety standards better than their steel counterparts. This is because of better energy absorption at impact. Aluminum is also the most environmentally friendly choice in metals for a car because you can recycle it, which saves up to 95 percent of the energy used for raw production.
The Biggest Differences between Steel and Aluminum Auto Body Repairs

Let’s quickly highlight the key differences between aluminum and steel auto body repair:

Should I Get an Aluminum Vehicle?

Even now, aluminum vehicles still tend to be the higher-end cars because of the higher cost of aluminum, but that has been changing slowly. Some of the most common cars that use aluminum today include:

  • Ford F-150
  • Mercedes Benz SL-Class
  • Jaguar SJ
  • Tesla Model X
  • Range Rover
  • Honda NSX

In general, aluminum cars just perform better, which is why we would recommend it. You’ll see a big improvement in your car’s performance in areas like fuel economy, better handling, better braking, and better acceleration. Aluminum also has better towing and payload capabilities, which is why we see it used in some trucks today.

Aluminum Repair Happens in a Separate Enclosure

Because of the risk of irreparable corrosion damage, aluminum auto body repair happens in a separate enclosure to prevent contamination. It uses heavy-duty non-combustible curtain walls to prevent aluminum and steel from mixing. Let’s take an example of this to paint a better picture of how corrosion could happen otherwise.

It happens through a process known as galvanic corrosion. The two dissimilar metals aluminum and steel react to each other chemically. A white powdery substance of corrosion will start to form on the aluminum surface, which bubbles the paint and deteriorates the aluminum. Galvanic corrosion is the reason that we go to such great lengths to avoid contact between aluminum and steel. If the two metals make contact, it creates a problem.

Final Thoughts

If you’d like to learn more about aluminum auto body repair or you need some auto body work done, you could Google, “auto body shop near me.” You could also call Elmer’s Auto Body Shop in South Jersey. At our auto body shop, we have the expertise of over 70 years behind us. As a family-owned and operated business, you support a local family in your community. We seek to make service for you easy, convenient, and fast. You can call us today at (856) 218-0202.

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