Ford Motor Co. says it will sell body repair parts for the 2015 F-150 to all body shops, even ones that have not been certified to fix the aluminum-bodied pickup. Ford will package each replacement part with the instruction sheet from the factory repair manual that dealers use, Paul Massie, Ford’s powertrain and collision product marketing manager, said at NACE.
The instructions will spell out such things as how to apply the structural adhesive and which type of rivets to use to affix a repair part to the vehicle. The aluminum F-150 requires special tools, facilities, technician training and repair procedures, and some Ford dealerships’ body shops are not making the investment to repair the pickups.
Massie said less than half of Ford’s 3,000 or so dealerships have body shops, but that is not expected to affect F-150 customers who need accident repairs. He said Ford is working to ensure that getting the 2015 pickup’s body repaired will be no different for customers from getting mechanical work done. “The independent body shop training is the same for Ford and Lincoln dealer body shops,” Massie said.
He spoke to independent repair shop owners and Ford dealers here at the collision repair and service convention, NACE|CARS 2014 Expo & Conference, hosted by the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, or I-Car, and the Automotive Service Association.
Massie said fixing the aluminum truck is not more difficult than repairing a steel-bodied vehicle. Many of the tools and repair procedures are identical. “Eighty percent of the repairs are exactly what you do today,” Massie said.
“With bumpers, fenders, grilles and things you hang on the vehicle, there’s no change.” What adds cost and complexity is that dealers and body shops working on the 2015 F-150 must maintain near hospital operating room-like cleanliness and prevent steel and aluminum particles from mixing, which can cause galvanic corrosion and other problems.
To do that, a body shop needs another set of tools to be used only on aluminum vehicles, an air filtration or vacuum system to prevent dust from spreading and a dedicated and segregated repair bay. The tools alone cost about $34,000, according to Ford. Massie said in some accidents, a 2015 F-150 might be easier to repair than a steel-bodied truck. Replacement panels will be available for the floor and rocker panels, and B-pillar repairs can be made without removing the roof. Massie said: “That will save both time and cost.”