2015 Ford F-150: Aluminum Body Repairs Part 2
January 26, 2015
After bouncing an 8-pound sledgehammer off the side of our new long-term 2015 Ford F-150, twice, I went undercover and drove it to our local Ford dealer, Santa Monica Ford, for repair.
As explained in Part 1 of our adventure, the idea was to test the hypothesis that when the aluminum body of our 2015 F-150 is damaged, it takes longer and is more expensive to repair than a more traditional steel-body pickup truck.
Ford claims the 2015 Ford F-150 is up to 700 pounds lighter thanks to its aluminum panels, which increases overall fuel economy and payload. But what happens when Thor decides to use your truck for target practice?
According to Ford, "the majority of collision repairs can be completed by most body shops today (e.g. bumpers, grilles, mirrors, dings, dents) [but] major collision repairs should be performed by aluminum-capable Ford body shops or National Body Shop Network members." Along with training from the "Ford F-150 Collision Repair Program" Ford body shops or independent body shops would need some specific equipment to repair the damage on our truck.
Here's a list of the equipment Ford recommends "to be aluminum repair capable":
Dedicated aluminum MIG welding system
Welder must be 200v and equipped with Pulse MIG Technology
Dedicated aluminum hand & power tools
Dedicated aluminum dent extraction system
Dedicated aluminum Wet Mix air filtration system
Work area separation / isolation system
Specialized aluminum SPR rivet gun
This might seem like a complicated list, but many body shops have had this stuff for years. Aluminum body panels on cars aren't really new. They're just new in the pickup truck segment, so there are dozens of independent shops and Ford dealers near our Santa Monica office that can handle this repair. Finding a certified independent shop, however, or a properly equipped dealer might be more difficult in other parts of the country.
When I dropped the truck off at Santa Monica Ford, the manager told me they would definitely be repairing the panel, not replacing it. Perfect. It would take "seven to ten business days" to finish the job and they welcomed me back to take photos of the process.
Less than a day after I handed over the keys, though, I got a call from the body shop. The service advisor had misquoted the price of a part and they needed my approval to move forward. Ruh-roh.
The second time I hit the truck, the taillight cracked, and even though it still functioned properly we wanted to fix it. Ideally, we'd replace just the broken piece, the lens. Unfortunately, it's permanently mated to the housing and Ford only sells this part as a single unit. What's more, we got our F-150 in the Lariat trim level. That means it's equipped with (amongst other things) a blind-spot monitoring system. The sensors for that system are housed in the taillight and as you might expect, this all led to a higher price for the taillight assembly than previously expected. Much higher.
The price jumped from $106.28 to $887.25. For a taillight.
Without much of a choice, I approved the price increase and thanked the shop for double-checking with me.
Two days later, I checked in on the F-150 to see what progress had been made. The body shop had removed the "Sport 4x4" sticker and the taillight and started dent repair, pulling out the damaged areas.
Four days after dropping off the truck (two days after my first checkup) I dropped by the shop again. This time they were in full sanding mode, prepping the truck for paint.
If I looked closely, I could see where the sledgehammer had made contact, but the damage was starting to disappear. During the second visit, the service advisor let me know the truck would be finished on schedule, just a few days later. Sure enough, seven days after we dropped off the truck, it was ready to go.
Check in tomorrow morning as we welcome the 2015 Ford F-150 back into our fleet with full details on the cost to repair it.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor
Read the whole series:
2015 Ford F-150: Aluminum Body Repairs Part 3 (With Video)