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How to Meet the Challenges of New Materials

—December 07, 2015
How to Meet the Challenges of New Materials

As part of their ever-increasing efforts to maximize fuel economy, most major automakers are targeting vehicle weight reductions. As shown in the chart below from MIT’s Sloan Auto Lab most manufacturers were targeting at least a 10% reduction by 2015. To achieve these targets they're turning to lighter weight materials such as high strength alloys and aluminum. 

The high-strength metals used in vehicles today have made it important for shop technicians to understand new repair methods and processes.

New Vehicle Materials = New Challenges for Collision Repairers

Is your shop ready to tackle the multiple challenges that new materials present? Here are a few of them according to Bob Keith, senior director of education and training for CARSTAR as reported in FenderBender

  • New materials require very specific repair methods; or cannot be repaired at all. Did you know that boron is not the only material that is completely non-repairable? Even some dual-phase metals are non-repairable.
  • Certain parts harden and crack when you try to straighten them. Unfortunately, those parts micro-crack and the mistake is not visible to the naked eye. You will have no idea that crack is even there unless you have an electronic microscope. That part will fail catastrophically in the event of another crash; it will literally snap into two pieces. And that can negatively affect airbag timing. The steel won’t hold long enough for the airbags to deploy, which causes obvious problems for vehicle passengers—and liability for your shop.
  • Because heat is the enemy for high-strength alloys, shops may need to invest in resistance spot welding. An investment in this type of welder typically costs anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000 not including setup costs.,

Get OEM Collision Repair Procedures Sooner

new materials blogBecause of these challenges, it has become critical to obtain OE information at the very beginning of the repair process. If damaged parts made of new materials are non-repairable, this needs to be identified during the estimating process, not during the repair. Having OE information up front not only allows the appraiser to know how the vehicle must be repaired, but also ensures that technicians have the information they need to start working immediately.

This is where TechAdvisor repair procedures can assist your shop staff.  RepairCenter TechAdvisor's current vehicle information database gives you access to all the latest in repair procedures and allows your shop to:

Learn more and schedule a demo to see TechAdvisor in action. 

Cheah, Lynette. W. "Cars on a Diet: The Material and Energy Impacts of Passenger Vehicle Weight Reduction in the U.S." Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sept. 2010. Web.

Bullis, Kevin. "Automakers Shed the Pounds to Meet Efficiency Standards." MIT Technology Review. TechnologyReview.com, 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 

"Preparing to Work on High-Strength Materials." FenderBender Print Edition. Oct 2011. Web. 

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