Aluminum Body Repair
While aluminum has been used in racing cars and other performance vehicles for many years, this metal is becoming more common in everyday cars and trucks. While there is a hearty debate over whether or not aluminum is lighter or stronger than the most modern types of high-density steel, high quality auto body shops like Purnell Body Shop need to be prepared to repair vehicles made with both steel and aluminum; we see both every single day. For structural reasons, the two are repaired very differently.
The concept of “memory” for materials refers to the material’s ability to move from one position to another and back. Steel has very good memory; aluminum doesn’t. Think of how hard it is to take crumpled up aluminum foil and smooth it back out again; the aluminum has no natural inclination to return to that smooth sheet.
When repairing dents and damage, this is incredibly important. Steel has great memory; using hammers and other tools makes it fairly easy to push steel back into its previous shape. This means that we can push out the dent in your steel door, smooth it out, and repaint it. When we're done, it will look as good as new.
Aluminum, however, has no such memory. Trying to bang out a dent or smooth out a ding can be difficult or impossible because the aluminum simply doesn’t have the physical memory of the spot it used to be in.
Steel, in general, becomes weaker when bent. If a steel panel has been bent far enough, or too many times, replacing it may be safer than repairing it. This is because it is more likely to bend again – and bend farther.
Aluminum, however, becomes stronger when it is bent. This means it can be physically difficult to shift something back, especially when you’re looking at an area that was already pressed into a particular shape due to stamping. In fact, the aluminum often cracks if the dent is too deep.
Aluminum-Only Tools and Repairs
Another factor that you should consider before getting aluminum on your car repaired is that a shop must have aluminum-only tools and aluminum-only bays available to safely work on vehicles. This is because steel and aluminum that are used together will slowly corrode each other over time. Even steel dust can cause corrosion on aluminum body parts.
Aluminum also needs physically different tools because of the issues mentioned above. Essentially, aluminum needs to be repaired differently than steel, and different strategies to do so are required.
As the premier auto body shop in Cecil County, Maryland, Purnell Body Shop has the ability to safely and properly repair the aluminum in your vehicle. If repairs are impossible due to the damage sustained by the vehicle, we will let you know and advise you on what replacement options might be possible. Our Gold Class certification shows that we continue to train our technicians yearly on new technology and repair techniques – including aluminum repair strategies.
As aluminum becomes more prevalent in the car industry, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your repair shop has the ability to work on aluminum-bodied and paneled vehicles without causing more damage than they’re repairing. At Purnell Body Shop, we are ready to do the repairs you need while preserving the integrity of your vehicle.