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Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

Posted November 18, 2015 1:10 PM by Jordan Perch

Ford may have succeeded in its attempt to reduce the weight and improve the fuel efficiency of its F-150 pickup truck by opting to build its body almost entirely out of aluminum, but now it seems that this decision might have a significant drawback that could deter some consumers from buying one in the future. According to a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the all-new aluminum Ford F-150 is considerably more expensive to repair than the 2014 F-150, which is made of steel.


The IIHS performed various crash tests on the 2015 F-150, and found that, while it fared pretty well on most tests, it takes longer and costs more to repair than its predecessor. According to the IIHS, it costs 26% more to repair damages on the aluminum F-150 than on the steel-bodied one. This suggests that it's more expensive to own a vehicle with an aluminum body than one made of steel, which could easily outweigh the advantages that aluminum has over steel in terms of durability, weight, safety and energy efficiency, and affect the consumer purchasing decision process when considering buying an F-150.


"From a simple bolt-on parts replacement to a more-involved removal and installation of entire body panels, fixing the aluminum F-150 is more expensive than repairing a steel-body F-150," David Zuby, the Institute's chief research officer, said in a press release.


The aluminum F-150 was put through a series of tests, including a small overlap front test, which was the only test it received a worse rating than the steel-bodied F-150. In this test, the right rear corner of the aluminum truck was hit by the front left corner of the steel-body F-150, as it was traveling at 10 mph. After the collision, researchers found that the aluminum truck has sustained more severe damages, and later took both trucks at a Ford dealership and had them repaired, with the repairs for the aluminum F-150 costing $4,147, whereas the steel model cost $3,759 to repair.


One of the reasons why it was more expensive to repair the aluminum truck was that it took longer, because certain components had to be reassembled. Also, some of the aluminum parts that had to be replaced cost more than the parts that were replaced on the steel model. On top of that, labor costs for the aluminum model were 22 percent higher, the IIHS said.


The fact that repairing the aluminum F-150 is more expensive than the steel version makes it more expensive to insure, as well. When determining their customers' premiums, insurance companies take repair costs into account, among other factors, so higher repair costs translate into higher premiums.


However, even though the aluminum model didn't earn the highest rating in the small overlap front crash test, it did very well on all other tests, which suggests that trucks featuring an aluminum body are as safe as steel-body trucks.


"Consumers who wondered whether the aluminum-body F-150 would be as crash-worthy as its steel-body predecessor can consider the question answered," said Zuby.

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#1

Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/18/2015 1:53 PM

Don't crash them. There, that was easy.

The only body work I have had to do to any of my vehicles over the last 36 years is repair rusted panels. So in my case, an aluminum body sure looks attractive.

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Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/19/2015 8:16 AM

You do not have many deer in your area. That is my family's biggest headache for vehicle body damage.

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Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/19/2015 1:35 PM

We have a herd of them that we have to dodge every day to get off the company property. They're some bold sums'itches too. There's a big doe that stands there and snorts at you when you walk by her and her fawn while she grazes on the grass in front of the building. We HAVE deer. Lots. Drive out the access road at night and you will see at least 8 to 10 sets of eyes peering at you out of the darkness.

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#2

Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/18/2015 3:47 PM

...well, DUH!

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Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/18/2015 4:12 PM

It's as if the IIHS (or this Motor Beat blogger) has never heard of a learning curve. They seem to think that what Ford has built is fixed for all time, but will be shelved tomorrow...(?) after 1 model year.

-As if the mechanics are not going to get faster at making repairs as they become more familiar with the vehicle. Or learn the shortcuts, or invent specialty tools to make the repairs easier.

-As if the Ford engineers won't figure out ways to simplify the assembly/disassembly/reassembly processes as the technology moves forward.

And I don't think insurers base their rates just one one factor like relative repair cost. There are many other costs that are factored in, as well as the demographics of the buyers. Anyone smart enough to buy a Ford instead of a Chevy has got to be a better insurance risk.

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Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/18/2015 7:38 PM

This was a given from day one. Aluminum shares very little in common with steel.

Ever tried to weld Aluminum? Heat and beat it? It doesn't get red before it melts, it just melts. OOPS!

Fords with plastic rear fenders already suck because most body shops won't try to repair them they just want you to pop for a new $1,000.00+ primed panel.

Insurers will use any and all reasons they can think up to raise your rates, all while cooing to you how they are on your side and looking out for you.

Having an Aluminum body would not deter me. But I drive a 14 year old Ford now and have no plans to upgrade.

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Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/18/2015 5:28 PM

Since people don't plan on being in a crash, I really don't think that will affect their buying decision.

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#8

Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/19/2015 2:14 PM

The offset performance problem may be a problem with design not material.

I worked at Ford doing design analysis in the 60's and 70's on aluminum body panels. Problems were minor then. I think it took a generational change to knock the issue off dead center.

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#9

Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/20/2015 9:28 AM

Comparing repair cost of the rear of an aluminum pickup and the front of a steel pickup? Is this really a valid comparison of repair cost? I would think you would want to repair the same components of both pickups to have a valid comparison.

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Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/20/2015 1:35 PM

Agreed.

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Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/22/2015 2:41 PM

""When applied to an optimized automotive body structure, aluminum can provide a weight savings of up to 50 percent compared with traditional mild steel structure."

A lighter weight vehicle can offer improved:

  • Fuel efficiency
  • Braking
  • Handling
  • Acceleration

An aluminum body frame can absorb a higher energy crash impact versus mild steel. Because of its lighter weight, the automotive industry could increase the thickness of body panels without adding extra weight to the vehicle. According to a survey of North American automakers, these advantages are the reason they're projecting the aluminum content of the average vehicle to nearly double by 2025."

http://vin.dataonesoftware.com/vin_basics_blog/aluminum-bodies-and-frames-the-future-of-the-auto-industry

All aluminum?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Corvette_(C6)

http://www.jaguarforums.com/forum/xj-xj6-xj8-xjr-x350-x358-28/all-aluminum-body-99569/

http://www.edmunds.com/audi/a8/?SID=ihaxgnkiyj0004qt001ol&kw=flexibletexttool&PID=3952401&AID=10364102&mktid=cj260233&mktcat=affiliates

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_GT

Cars of the future will be a combination of plastic fiber composites and aluminum...

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Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/22/2015 2:53 PM

The title of the thread is REPAIRING FORD'S ALUMINUM.....................

From your web site:

"On average, aluminum is more expensive than steel, as much as two to three times more. However, expense alone is not the only disadvantage aluminum may have when compared with steel frames and body panels.

A key disadvantage is aluminum's inability to be welded easily. If a steel door panel or frame suffers a crack, often it can be welded back together easily, primed and repainted so it's difficult to tell any body work has been performed. This can't be done with aluminum. Steel also can be bent and shaped as needed.

Body shops and even dealer service centers currently are equipped for steel work with technicians skilled in the art of welding and steel fabrication. The cost for switching over to an infrastructure designed specifically for all-aluminum vehicles or mass production of aluminum vehicles and components would be high."

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Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/22/2015 5:34 PM

Well if it handles better and brakes better, than you are less likely to be involved in a collision.....and since it won't rust out, it will have a higher resale value....and since it gets better gas mileage, it's cheaper to run....and when you do ever scrap it, aluminum is worth more than steel....

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Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/22/2015 5:55 PM

I don't buy the "less likely to be involved in a collision", and I see repair costs and insurance rates being higher for this model. Collision rates will follow the number of '15 Fords on the road.

Overall I see no monetary advantage to an all Al body. I admit I may well be wrong, but it'll take 5 years to know that.

Hey, if I had plenty of money, I'd be driving one right now. And a new Vette.

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Re: Repairing Ford's Aluminum F-150 Is More Expensive Than Steel-Bodied Cars, According to IIHS

11/24/2015 12:13 AM
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