Some of the most asked questions we get asked here at Rocco’s Collision Center typically revolve around repair costs. Here’s the answer we give every time: There are only one or two out of pocket expenses an “insurance-paying” customer will have. The first is whatever their deductible is, which is completely normal in auto body repair. The second cost would be for any rental car expenses if their policy does not include rental.

Even with this knowledge, customers still fear the cost of car repair because they believe they will be required to pay the whole bill themselves. Now with the increased amount of aluminum used in new car construction, we are frequently asked specifically about aluminum repair. This is an important question to ask when you’re looking for an auto body repair shop since not every shop is capable of performing aluminum repairs. There’s also the fear is that the shops can charge much higher than they should for these repairs. Here at Rocco’s, we know how to properly repair aluminum and charge you fairly for these type of repairs.

Aluminum has been a reputable strong and lightweight material used by our military and aerospace. Now, we’re seeing more cars that come into our shop that have been constructed with some type of aluminum instead of traditional steel.

So what’s the real difference between steel and aluminum? Sure, they both can be formed into vehicle bodies and they’re both metals. But that’s where the similarities end as steel and aluminum couldn’t be more different. Each material requires unique paint primers and a completely different metal-working technique.

For those of you requiring a repair on your aluminum vehicle, you might wondering if this means a more expensive repair? And if so, how much more expensive? Does this mean you need to take your car to a specific body shop? We know how confusing auto body repair can be, which is why we’re here to answer all of those questions and more.

The Rise In Aluminum Parts Usage

Back in 2014, Ford stated that the new F150 for the 2015 model year would be constructed entirely of aluminum. Before this, aluminum would only be found in European luxury cars like the Audi A8. Only a few auto body repair shops would have to work with this specialized type of repair. As soon as 2015 hit, it was a game-changer for all that still affects some auto repair shops who have not made the necessary investments to be capable of handling these type of repairs. Nowadays, car manufacturers are using aluminum panels like hoods and doors more frequently than they ever did before in the past.

Technicians Need To Be Trained On How To Repair Aluminum

Auto repair nowadays is extremely complex and requires specialized training from the technicians to know how to properly repair any car that comes into the shop. The most essential thing auto technicians need when repairing an aluminum-based car is the specific knowledge for these type of cars or trucks. In many cases, aluminum cannot be welded like steel. Aluminum reacts differently to heat than steel does and aluminum conducts heat better than steel. Because of this, the heat-affected zone is much larger on an aluminum weld than a steel weld. As a result, the OEM procedures for aluminum often include complete panel replacement, adhesive bonding or mechanical rivet bonding. Technicians will also need a separate aluminum downdraft cleanroom to make any aluminum repairs because you can’t work on a steel car and then jump right on to an aluminum car. If steel shavings or chips get into a raw aluminum panel, it can cause galvanic corrosion and will quickly begin to affect the paint.

This switch to aluminum has forced body shops to make a critical decision. Their options are:

  • Send their technicians to get certified in aluminum repairs or…
  • Refuse to fix any aluminum vehicles

Here at Rocco’s Collision Center, our technicians are highly trained and certified of handling any repairs that come into our shop. We are aluminum certified and are capable of performing any aluminum related repairs. Although it’s an expense to the shop, it’s not one necessarily passed on to the consumers. We do not charge different hourly rates for aluminum repair than we do for typical steel repair.

Aluminum also has less memory than steel does, so hammering out dents is significantly more difficult with aluminum. Steel always wants to return to its former state, so once you unlock the tension in the panel from the dent, it typically will return to its original shape. Aluminum is not as forgiving.  This type of specific knowledge seems like it would be more expensive, right? Wrong.

In fact, it takes the same amount of time for a technician to repair a steel-bodied vehicle as it would for an aluminum-based vehicle. It all comes down to the technicians having the knowledge by being I-CAR certified. Despite there being over 40,000 repair shops in North America, only a small fraction of those are OEM and/or I-CAR certified for working with aluminum. Not to mention, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are two states that don’t require auto repair technicians to have a license for car repair.

As you can see, the debate that aluminum repair will cost more than a steel repair is a more myth than anything. It comes down to whether or not you have an aluminum F150. It does not matter how much it cost to repair a steel F150. The way your aluminum F150 is repaired is not the same method as steel repair and the parts are not the same.

Why Choose Us

We at Rocco’s Collison Centers know that you have many choices when it comes to choosing where to get your car repaired, especially in the Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey areas. Each one of our technicians has gone through extensive training and have received their certifications through I-CAR, PPG, and 3M. We follow OEM repair procedures and even work with insurance companies to ensure your vehicle is in the best hands with us.

This problem with high production body shops isn’t just here in Pennsylvania and New Jersey but across the country. We are writing about this because we feel you deserve the highest quality repair out there for your car. No substitutions. No short cuts. Only the best. We aim to show you why we are the best out there, which is why we are dedicated to giving you the best repair possible for your car! 

We have 6 different locations across Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. We invite you to see for yourself why Rocco’s is the best out there! Feel free to give us a call at anytime at (888)-9-ROCCOS. Or to schedule an appointment or to call any of our locations directly, click here