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Update: Ford has responded to the Edmunds coverage of its staff attacking a gleaming blue Ford F-150 with a sledgehammer.
“The same tools and knowledge required to repair similar damage to the steel body panels applies to aluminum. It will take a similar amount of time,” Ford spokesman Mike Levine said, according to USA Today. “The Edmunds test with a sledgehammer tries to replicate damage from an extremely severe incident that only 1% of all F-150 customers annually would face. Based on the video and written story, we would expect it to take less than 10 hours to repair the damage – which would be comparable to a steel vehicle with similar damage – and not the number cited in the story.”
Also, there’s this also impressive “beat up the F-150” video showing its resilience when athletes attack:
Jan. 28 update:
Edmunds.com has updated its saga of its staff bashing a Ford F-150 with a sledgehammer and taking it to a Ford dealership for repairs. (See our original Jan. 26 coverage below.) Associate editor Travis Langness, who wrote the piece, hit the right quarter panel twice with a sledgehammer, cracking the taillight in the process. It’s back from the dealership now. Here’s what else they’ve reported:
Part 2: Within a day, the shop had called Langness because of the taillight — this isn’t the aluminum’s fault, though. It’s the fault of the blind spot monitoring sensor within it. Ford sells the entire part as a single unit, Langness reported. (The potential for sensors to increase the price of the vehicle repair — which is good for shops — was discussed by RDN here and here.)
“The price jumped from $106.28 to $887.25. For a taillight,” he wrote.
The dealership estimated that fixing the damage on a steel F-150 “‘would take half the time,'” he reported.
Part 3: The dealership, Santa Monica Ford, told Langness that the work would take 20 hours to fix. Their aluminum labor rate was $120, but since it was out-of-pocket, they gave him the regular $60 rate.
Ultimately, the job took 24.4 hours and cost $2,938.44. The shop would have had to do 4.4 hours of it regardless of material, Langness estimated. Had he not gotten a discount on labor rate, he’d have paid $1,800 more. He also questioned the cost of fixing a steel panel versus replacing one. (The panels themselves cost the same.)
The cost, of course, takes into account all the time and money the dealership spent to get its shop up to speed on aluminum repair. It’s possible that the cost could decline over time as shops get more accustomed to fixing it and recoup their investments.
Original Jan. 26 post:
Repairer Driven News is a little jealous of Edmunds.com, which recently held a sledgehammer “car bash” on an Ford F-150 to test out not only how the aluminum stands up to a collision, but what the repair process would be like.
Their results can be seen in this video:
The aluminum did rebound like the T-1000, but the impacts still left dents and creases and cracked the taillight.
When Edmunds took it to a dealership, it found:
“Various sections of the panel had deformed and would need to be pounded out. Near both the top and the bottom of the panel, there were creases and folds in the aluminum that would need to be fixed before they could be painted. According to the advisor, the aluminum would be much harder to fix than steel. His shop was trained to fix the aluminum but it required special tools and would take extra time. A job like this on an F-150 with steel panels ‘would take half the time.'”
It’s kind of what one would expect, but it’s interesting to see the process in action from an unbiased source like Edmunds instead of, say, a customer’s word-of-mouth rant on a message board. Edmunds is promising an update later today, so keep checking.
More aluminum coverage on RDN:
Edmunds, Jan. 26, 2015
Featured image: The 2015 Ford F-150 drives Oct. 1 in San Antonio, Texas. (Sam VarnHagen/Provided by Ford)