How Hard Is It to Repair a Car Made From Aluminum?

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

Well known for its lightness and recyclability, aluminum is a mainstay in the automotive industry. Although the lightweight metal is used in a wide variety of modern automotive applications, it’s only in recent times that aluminum has been extensively used in a mass-production vehicle. German automaker Audi used it extensively for its flagship A8 sedan, and Ford currently uses it for its aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup truck.

How Hard Is It to Repair a Car Made From Aluminum

With aluminum’s use on the rise throughout the automotive industry, auto body shops throughout the United States are rising to meet the unique challenges that aluminum body and frame repair pose. So just how hard is it to repair cars that use aluminum extensively? The following explains some of the challenges involved in repairing aluminum body panels and frames.

Differences in Aluminum and Steel

The fundamental differences between aluminum and steel pose a number of challenges for auto body specialists. For instance, aluminum lacks the “metal memory” that’s present in most varieties of steel. Metal memory describes steel’s ability to be worked back into its original shape when damaged. A typical dent repair usually includes some carefully applied pressure and a variety of metal-shaping tools to push, pull, and massage the dented panel back to form.

Although aluminum is typically more elastic and malleable than steel, it lacks the latter’s ability to “remember” its original shape. As a result, dent repairs involving aluminum often take longer and involve more labor than those involving steel body panels. In many cases, moderately damaged aluminum panels may be nearly impossible to repair properly, resulting in the need for a complete panel replacement.

Aluminum also responds to heat differently than steel, making any repair involving welds or other sources of heat challenging for experts. Unlike steel, aluminum conducts and absorbs heat at a faster rate. Aluminum is often more malleable when worked with heat, but too much heat can cause welds to fail and welded components to become damaged beyond repair. This fact explains why aluminum panels are typically bonded and riveted into place instead of being welded.

Galvanic corrosion is also an issue when dealing with aluminum body repairs, especially when attempts are made to join aluminum body panels to steel components. Joining the two dissimilar metals together can put the aluminum panel at risk of galvanic corrosion.

Differences in Repair Methods

Conventional steel body panels can be worked back into shape using a number of traditional tools and techniques. But convention tends to fly out the window when it comes to repairing aluminum body panels. Many of the tools that auto body shops rely on to successfully complete steel repairs can’t be used on aluminum without causing significant damage. For instance, taking a sheet metal shrinking hammer to an aluminum body panel could result in more damage being done to the panel.

There’s also the issue of straightening aluminum frames versus those made from steel and other alloys. Whereas a conventional steel frame can be straightened and adjusted using traditional methods, aluminum frames often require state-of-the-art repair equipment. Some of this equipment may be specific to a particular make and model, which could make repairs more expensive and harder to schedule due to availability issues.

Environmental Challenges

Even the environment in which aluminum body repairs take place may be drastically different from steel. A typical auto body shop may have a completely separate area devoted towards aluminum repairs to cut down on the possibility of cross-contamination. Cross-contamination can occur when iron oxide dust from previous steel repairs settle on aluminum body panels, putting the panel at risk of galvanic corrosion.

The possibility of cross-contamination also makes it more important for auto body shops to use tools specifically devoted to aluminum repair. Using a tool that was previously used to repair a steel component could introduce iron oxide fragments to the unfinished aluminum, resulting in galvanic corrosion.

In addition to cross-contamination, there’s also the risk of combustion due to aluminum dust buildup. High concentrations of aluminum dust can put surrounding areas at risk of an explosion, especially when there are sources of heat or electrical spark nearby. It’s crucial for auto body shops to have an effective means of capturing and removing aluminum dust from work areas.

The Final Verdict

All of the issues mentioned above can add significant time and expense to an aluminum body or frame repair. As auto body shops become more familiar with aluminum repairs and as more automakers use aluminum in their mainstream cars and trucks, such repairs are likely to be less difficult in the near future. In time, an ordinary aluminum body repair may be indistinguishable from a conventional steel repair in terms of cost and labor.

The experts at Central Body Company, Inc. can handle just about any type of auto body or collision repair. If you’re in the Omaha area and need help getting your vehicle back into shape, call us or schedule your appointment online.

5 Tips to Regain Your Sense of Control After a Vehicle Collision

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

A vehicle accident can be nerve-rattling and life-altering, especially if the circumstances leading up to the crash were completely out of your control. There are five ways you can take back control after a wreck. Follow the tips below to get started.

5 Tips to Regain Your Sense of Control After a Vehicle Collision

Document Everything

After an accident, your first thoughts may be focused on how to have your vehicle repaired as fast as possible, even if you’ve been injured yourself. Whether you have a job, kids, or a health condition requiring routine doctors’ visits, you need your car or truck.

It’s understandable to want to have your vehicle returned to you quickly, but nearly every accident can become a potential legal issue. After you attend to the medical needs of everyone at the crash scene, including yourself, you should gather as much evidence as you can about the crash.

If you don’t have paper and pen on hand, use your phone to document the situation with a video of yourself describing the scene or send texts with the info to a trustworthy loved one.

Include the following information:

  • The time, date, and location
  • The weather and road conditions
  • Traffic conditions
  • Direction of travel of involved vehicles
  • Your approximate rate of speed
  • License plates of all vehicles
  • Contact information for other drivers and passengers
  • Insurance information of involved drivers
  • Names of and contact information for witnesses

Use your phone or a camera to take pictures and/or video of the damaged vehicles if it is safe to do so. Take pictures of the crash scene from all angles to show the complete picture of the location and the aftermath of the accident.

If you were too injured or shaken to gather evidence, return to the scene as soon as possible to take pictures of the area. Ask your collision repair specialists to take pictures of all car damage for you. Seemingly insignificant details like paint scrapes or dents from another car can help you win a settlement or avoid a driving violation on your record.

Have Your Car Scanned

New auto scanning methods can detect problems you can’t see just by looking at a wrecked car. Vital structural components, performance systems, or safety elements may have been damaged in the crash, compromising the integrity of your vehicle.

Reputable body shops are happy to scan your car before and after your collision repair to ensure your vehicle is safe and reliable. Many shops do scans on all crashed cars as a matter of course.

Ask for copies of the scans to add to any legal filings or insurance claims related to the wreck. First, check to see if your insurance company requested that this information be sent to them directly from the body shop in order to process your claim.

Make Improvements to Your Vehicle

Sometimes, you don’t want your car to be “as good as it was before the wreck.” You want it to be better. Don’t be shy. Let your collision repair pros know what you’re thinking.

Modern body shops deal with all sorts of glitches and weaknesses in car bodies of all sorts. The techs know how to upgrade your car’s body with new replacement parts that are better than the original factory parts.

For example, if you have a Camaro manufactured between 1978 and 1981, the front and rear bumper surfaces made of urethane just don’t hold up to wear and tear. Now, your body shop can order fiberglass front and rear bumpers that are solid and sturdy, making your Camaro look great and ensuring it can withstand dings far better than before.

If you want a new paint job, spoiler or other upgrade, ask the techs about it. Your insurance may not cover “extras” or cosmetic upgrades. However, if you’ve always wanted some racing stripes or chrome, it makes sense to have the work done during the collision repair phase.

Understand Your Car Type

Cars come in a variety of construction and material types. Steel, aluminum, fiberglass, and plastic are the main materials used in car body design.

Each of these materials requires skill and training to make repairs and replace car body components. Some of the materials are easier to replace than others.

If your car is made of aluminum, there may be a higher charge to replace body panels. Aluminum doesn’t take to welding as steel does, and there are additional limitations in the way it is applied and bolted to vehicles.

Car manufacturers are developing ways for collision shops to more easily replace non-steel car components. Until car makers have perfected the aluminum and other repair processes—and have taught the methods to most body shop techs—expect a pricier repair build when you crash a newer model vehicle.

Choose a Certified Repair Shop

Check the credentials of any repair shop from which you receive estimates. The cheapest quote isn’t always the best deal.

Look for certification from the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). To qualify for this seal on their businesses, body shop owners must employ techs with proven experience and skills in automotive repair.

I-CAR certification goes beyond these credentials to require ongoing training for techs on the latest vehicle repair methods. Look for I-CAR Gold Class certification if you want repairs made in a state-of-the-art shop. Businesses with this designation must stay on the cutting edge of new auto body materials and collision repair technology.

 

Contact Central Body Company, Inc. today to get your collision repair started. Our techs are ASE certified and recognized as Gold Class Professionals by I-CAR. We have the skills and tools to get you back on the road and feeling in control again.

After the Accident: Collision Repair Myths That Will Cost You

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

Navigating the aftermath of a car accident provides enough headaches without your having to fight your insurance company about car repairs. Many body shops, such as ours, do their best to process claims and work with insurance companies to get you the repairs you need done.

Collision Repair Myths That Will Cost You

However, no matter how involved you want to be with the process, you should know about these common body-repair myths. If you aren’t aware of your rights as a car owner and insurance holder, you could end up paying more than you should.

Myth: You Can’t Choose Your Repair Shop

Your insurance company may suggest where you can take your car. Your agent may even offer towing services to a specific auto body shop. However, you have the right to choose any shop you would like to service your vehicle. Your insurance company will have to cover the cost.

This is useful because not all body shops provide the same caliber of work or provide services for specialized vehicles. For example, if you have an antique vehicle or higher-end sports car, you may have a body shop you use regularly for repairs and paint jobs.

In some cases, it’s better to choose a shop that is out of your insurance network. You’ll still pay for your deductible either way, but by going independent, you can avoid shops that have pre-set rates with insurance companies. Pre-set rates can affect the quality of work and the caliber of the repair materials.

Insurance companies often try to push you to choose shops that provide the lowest bid for the work you need done. Companies may also contest things like time estimates for repairs and whether or not parts should be repaired instead of replaced. Stay involved in the repair process and catch these discrepancies. Usually the restoration specialist’s estimates and suggestions are the best path for your car.

Myth: You’ll Pay the Difference Between Estimate and Cost

Your insurance company will assess the damage on your vehicle and decide on an estimated cost for repairs. The estimated cost and the actual cost can differ greatly. Many people believe they’ll be on the hook for anything that goes over the original estimate.

This is not the case. Many factors go into price, and sometimes, damage can be hidden or more difficult to fix because of part sourcing or the cost of materials. As the restoration of your vehicle progresses, your insurance company must make concessions for damages that were not assessed properly with the original estimate.

Myth: My Car Will Not Be the Same After It’s Repaired

Many people forgo repairing their car entirely and instead use the reimbursement from insurance companies to buy a different vehicle altogether. Usually people do this because they think their car simply won’t ever look as nice or drive as well as it did before the accident.

This is simply not the case. Gone of the days of beating out the dents and touching up with paint that almost-but-not-quite matches. Some cars are damaged beyond repair, but many, even those with extensive cosmetic damage, can look and feel new again.

New technology in collision repair allows the repair specialists to fit your car back to its factory specs. There is no guess work—every repair is measured and precise. Repair shops use the correct color of paint (sourced from the manufacturer of your vehicle) and the exact materials. When a piece is not salvageable, new parts may be used.

Myth: My Car Will Lose All Its Value

Since your car has been in an accident, it no longer has a clean title, which does affect its resell value. However, you have some control over maintaining the value of your vehicle. If possible, ask your auto dealer to use OEM (original-equipment manufacturer) parts with your repair. These will replace the damaged parts with ones exactly like your originals.

Refurbished or off-brand parts will do the job, but they will more negatively affect the value of your vehicle.

Insurance companies can be very strict about parts because off-brand and refurbished parts cost less money. When you are not at fault for your car accident, however, you have grounds to fight for OEM parts in your insurance claim.

Myth: Warranties Are Worth It

Some insurance companies will offer warranties on body work done at networked auto shops. These warranties might seem attractive enough to you to stop you from shopping around for the best shop you can find.

However, warranties are often unnecessary for repair work. For example, some shops may offer their own warranty with the work, or they might provide guarantees on labor and parts. These guarantees could be similar to or better than the warranty your insurance company offers.

For more information on dealing with insurance and after-accident repairs, contact us at Central Body Company, Inc. We can help you get the estimates you need as well as communicate with your insurance company to help you get the most out of your coverage.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration predicted that 17,775 people would die in car accidents during the first half of 2016. This means 10.4 percent more crash fatalities were predicted than occurred in the first half of 2015.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

The idea that car accidents are increasing is both sobering and scary. What causes car accidents, and how can we prevent them?

  1. Distracted Driving

In 2014, 3,179 people were killed in accidents involving distracted driving. Distracted driving is particularly prevalent for teenagers—10 percent of 15- to 19-year-old drivers involved in accidents in which someone died were distracted when the crash occurred.

One of the most common causes of distracted driving is—you guessed it—cell phones. Texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it requires you to take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel.

Other distractions include talking to passengers, looking at a map or GPS, smoking, eating and drinking, adjusting the radio, and putting on makeup. Avoiding these distractions can greatly increase your safety behind the wheel.

  1. Impaired Driving

When it comes to car accidents, alcohol continues to be a huge factor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one person dies in an alcohol-related crash every 53 minutes.

Drugs also play a part in many car accidents. In fact, 16 percent of car crashes were caused by drivers under the influence of drugs other than alcohol.

Plus, the legalization of marijuana in various locations may lead to more accidents. According to the CDC, marijuana users are 25 percent more likely to crash.

There’s a simple solution to avoid these accidents: don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Find a designated driver, hire a taxi, or take public transportation instead.

  1. Reckless Driving

Not only is it illegal, but reckless driving causes numerous accidents. Reckless driving can include:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Running red lights
  • Failing to follow traffic signs
  • Changing lanes too quickly
  • Using the wrong lane to turn
  • Failing to signal
  • Not following right-of-way rules for turns

Much reckless driving is caused by drivers who are in a hurry or see traffic rules as unimportant or not applicable. But inexperience can also lead to reckless driving. Many teenage drivers don’t have years of driving experience behind them and easily make mistakes.

Law-enforcement officers help enforce safe driving. If you notice an unsafe driver on the road, stay out of his or her way and call the police. Teen drivers should take a driving course and get adequate driving practice before getting a driver’s license.

  1. Mechanical Problems

Unfortunately, sometimes an issue with a vehicle on the road leads to an accident. Common issues include:

  • Tire blowouts
  • Brake failure
  • Dead batteries

You can do your part to avoid mechanical accidents through regular maintenance. Regular car maintenance prevents your parts from wearing down or breaking on the road.

You should check and adjust your tire pressure about once a month. Every 3000 miles, get your oil changed, your tires rotated, and your brakes checked.

About once a year, you should have a mechanic check the overall state of your vehicle and point out any problems that require repair.

If your car does experience an issue on the road, pull off the road and turn on your emergency lights.

  1. Weather Conditions

Snow, rain, hail, and other weather conditions decrease visibility and create slick road conditions. Ideally, people should avoid driving during times of poor weather, but this isn’t always possible.

If you need to drive in poor weather, leave 100 yards between you and the car in front of you. Drive at least ten miles below the speed limit, and brake slowly and carefully. Avoid driving in icy or flooded areas.

  1. Limited Visibility

When they can’t see as well, drivers may be more likely to crash. This happens in foggy conditions and at night when there is limited light.

Drivers can increase their visibility by turning on their headlights. Avoid using high beams if there are other drivers on the road, since high beams can decrease other drivers’ visibility. Also, don’t look directly at oncoming headlights.

You should also slow down when driving up a hill, since you might not be able to see another car over the hill.

  1. Road Conditions

Unexpected road conditions such as construction zones or potholes can also lead to accidents.

If you see a construction zone, slow down and look carefully at your surroundings. If you see a pothole, drive around it if possible. If you can’t do that safely, drive slowly over the pothole.

It’s impossible to prevent all car accidents. However, each driver can do his or her part to decrease his or her car-accident risk.

Follow these tips to decrease your risk for these common causes of car accidents. Make sure to keep your car in top condition by taking it to Central Body Company, Inc.

5 Ways to Prep Your RV During the Off-Season

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

During the summer, you use your RV regularly for camping trips and family vacations. Your RV is so busy during this season that you don’t have time to address all of its problems.

The winter, then, is a good time to take your RV to an auto body repair center for a makeover. Here are some more preparation ideas to consider so your RV is ready for summer fun.

5 Ways to Prep Your RV During the Off-Season

  1. Cleaning

Since you’re not currently using your RV, the winter is a great time to perform a deep cleaning. Some cleaning tasks to complete include:

  • Scrub oven and burners
  • Clean windows, including window seals
  • Remove water stains on all appliances
  • Remove scratches on wood furniture
  • Clean bathroom shower, toilet, and sink
  • Mop floors and whiten grout
  • Clean out and scrub refrigerator
  • Wash all sheets and linens
  • Clean and sanitize kitchen sink and disposal
  • Vacuum and have carpet professionally cleaned

If you dread deep cleaning, choose a Saturday to complete the project with family and friends. Blast music while you work to make the process more enjoyable.

  1. Repairs and Replacements

Even if it’s never been in an accident, your RV can develop various problems. Look closely for dings, scratches, and chips in any of the following parts:

  • Windshield
  • Fiberglass front
  • Roof
  • Aluminum skin
  • Rear cap

If these parts are damaged beyond repair, they may require replacement.

You may also need to replace any metal parts on your RV, such as wall panels and trim. If you do, find an RV repair shop that offers metal fabrication.

When you take your RV into the repair shop, have the mechanics perform routine maintenance as well. For example, if your tires have less than 4/32 inch tread depth, you’ll need to get them replaced, or if your battery is reaching the end of its life, you’ll need a new battery.

RV specialists can also check other parts of your RV, such as your brakes, windshield wipers, gas lines, and electrical components. Ensuring these components work correctly in the winter can help you prevent serious safety issues while you’re adventuring in the summer.

  1. Weather Repairs

At some point, you may have driven your RV through harsh conditions like hail, wind, and sand. These hazards can take their toll on your RV’s exterior. They can wear down paint, create dings and scratches, and even break glass and metal.

But harsh conditions can impact more than your RV’s appearance. Moisture can enter through broken roofs, vents, and fiberglass, damaging your RV’s interior as well.

If your RV has significant weather damage, bring it for repairs right away. If you don’t get your RV repaired, you risk the damage worsening later on. If this happens, your insurance company may even deny your late claim.

  1. Remodeling

The winter season is a perfect time to invest in any remodeling you’ve been wanting. RV remodeling can update its look, enhance its functionality, and provide your family with increased comfort.

An RV professional can replace your RV’s carpet, kitchen, flooring, furniture, windows, and cabinetry. You could also get a new look by adding new wallpaper, paint, and curtains.

Perhaps you want to add new furniture, such as a kitchen table and chairs, a couch, a bookshelf, or a computer desk. Before you purchase a new piece of furniture, measure out the space necessary for it inside your RV. Also, make sure it can fit through your RV door. If you choose to keep your current furniture, you can update the look by getting the furniture reupholstered.

You could also update your RV’s safety features by adding larger rear view mirrors or a backup camera. If you need plumbing repairs or want to replace your sink or toilet, you’ll need to locate a plumber familiar with RV work. An electrician will be required for updates to your lighting or appliances.

  1. Painting and Striping

If you’re planning on updating your RV’s interior, pair it with a stunning new exterior. Your painting and striping choices give your RV not only class, but identity as well.

Auto professionals can touch up small dings and chips with paint spotting. Better yet, they can completely repaint your RV to help it look attractive, clean, and fresh. These professionals can also add new stripes or graphics for a custom look.

You can stick to traditional colors or you can choose a unique, artistic design. Your RV’s design can help your RV stand out, but be sure to keep the design more traditional if you’re hoping to sell your RV in the future.

Don’t let an annoying repair issue interrupt your summer camping trips. Prepping your RV during the winter can ensure your vehicle is ready to go once summer comes around. Plus, by renovating and painting your RV, you can feel like you have a brand new vehicle.

If you live near Omaha, NE, visit Central Body Company, Inc. for comprehensive RV repair and renovation. We offer all the repair, replacement, and painting services you need for a first-class RV.

CENTRAL BODY COMPANY INC.
4682 Leavenworth, Omaha, NE 68106
Phone: (402) 551-3177
Fax: (402) 551-1642

CENTRAL BODY COMPANY INC.
1401 S 16th Street, Council Bluffs, IA 51501
Phone: (712) 352-0099

Omaha Location

Council Bluffs Location