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The Main Advantages & Disadvantages Aluminum Auto Body Construction

June 08 2017 |
Posted in: NewsAluminum |

The Alfa Romeo 4C, the Tesla Model S, the BMW i8, the Acura NSX, the Ford F-150 pick-up truck.

Instead of playing ‘one of these things is not like the other’, which is a little too easy, we’re going to play ‘what do 4 fairly expensive, relatively exotic cars have in common with an everyday (best-selling vehicle in North America and it has been for as long as anyone can remember) not-terribly-expensive pick-up truck?

Aluminum Body Panels and/or Aluminum Frames

While aluminum has been used as a material in the construction of automotive bodies, frames and engines for decades, it has enjoyed bit of a higher profile in the last few years.

In an effort to meet domestic emissions standards, U.S. auto makers have started using more aluminum in the construction of their vehicles. Ford has placed the highest bet on the advantages of aluminum, famously using it for all of the body panels and bed on their 2015 and later F-150s.

But, as quickly as Ford starting promoting their efforts, Chevy literally put a dent (actually a full perforation into the bed of an F-150) in their campaign by running a widely-viewed TV commercial where they drop a toolbox into the bed of a 2016 Chevy Silverado and a F-150, causing, you guessed it, a hole in the Ford, but barely a dent in the Chevy.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Aluminum Auto Bodies

Advantage:

The main advantage gained by using aluminum in auto body construction is increased fuel economy due to the significantly lower weight. In promotional campaigns, Ford claims the aluminum F-150 has 29% better fuel economy than its predecessor.

While Ford also claimed that, ‘pound–for-pound’, aluminum is stronger than steel, that claim somewhat defeats the lower-weight advantage – a pound of aluminum weighs the same as a pound of steel.

Disadvantage:

While you’ll hear a lot of what seem like disadvantages of using aluminum in cars and trucks, they are generally all related to the fact that it’s a relatively new material in the industry and the industry hasn’t adjusted to working with it. For example, Ford had an issue with paint peeling from aluminum tailgates, but that’s only because the paint was not properly formulated for use on aluminum.

Perhaps the worst knock against aluminum body construction is that it is very difficult to repair, particularly in collision repairs to panels and frames. But that’s only the case if systems developed for repairing steel panels and frames are applied to their aluminum counterparts.

Certified aluminum repair technicians are trained to know the differences between steel and aluminum body repair, and they have the tools to make it happen.

If you’re looking for qualified aluminum body repair specialists, and the specialized equipment needed to make your aluminum-body car or truck like new again, call us here at Leon’s, we can help you.

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