Yesterday Edmunds.com gave their pristine 2015 Ford F-150 some enthusiastic thwacks with a sledgehammer, putting two dimples in the quarter panel and cracking the taillight. Today they got the bill, and they're saying it cost four times as much to repair the aluminum bed versus old-school steel.
According to Edmunds, their Ford dealer estimated this level of damage would require "seven to ten days" of downtime on a new aluminum-bodied 2015 Ford F-150, "while the repairs to steel bodywork would have taken four [days]."
Update – Ford's response to that is:
"With the proper tools and training, cosmetic repairs to aluminum body panels will take a similar amount of time as steel panel repairs. We know this from the hood of the F-150, which has been aluminum since 1997. Repair data show it takes a comparable amount of time to repair F-150 hood dents as it does competitors' steel hoods.
In the case of major collision damage, in many cases, the new F-150 will be easier to repair, thanks to its innovative modular structure, which reduces repair time and helps save costs."
Edmunds also reports the dealer bills aluminum-related labor at $120 per hour, where steel work is $60. That was cross-referenced with "their local independent shop" who quoted them at $50 an hour for steel, $105 an hour for aluminum.
By the time these guys got their truck back, the Ford dealership had a bill ready for $4,138.44 to replace the dents, do a nice job blending paint, replace the taillight (which is the fancy LED-accented, blind-spot monitoring unit worth $887), and put the "SPORT 4X4" sticker back (allegedly in the wrong place).
Breaking it down; Edmunds is saying the body repair for those sledgehammer slugs would have taken ten hours at $60 an hour on steel truck for a bill of $600. On aluminum, it's twenty hours at $120 for a total of $2,400.
Interestingly, the dealer was willing to offer a significant discount when they found out they were being paid "out of pocket" rather than by an insurance company.The amended, final price reflecting that was $2,938.
I think it's worth mentioning that the truck held up well against the bludgeoning, and frankly if this were my work rig I'd run it as-is and let the dents become part of my style statement. But if this were somebody's gleaming Platinum-trim luxohauler, I'm thinking the story would be different.
You can see Edmunds' own complete analysis of the damage and repair right here.
So let's hear it; would these higher repair costs deter you from picking up an aluminum truck or are the benefits of weight saving good enough to help you get over it?