New Ford F-150 Owners Face Higher Insurance, Repair Costs

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Making the big switch from steel to aluminum will be a double-edged sword for the 2015 Ford F-150. While it may save owners money at the pump due to improved fuel economy, it will cost more to insure and repair. According to Automotive News, the swap to aluminum will send ripples deep into the insurance and repair industries, both of which could significantly impact used vehicle pricing down the road. Some experts are saying that insuring a new F-150 could cost as much as 10 percent more than insuring a conventional pickup.

Then there's the lack of qualified mechanics. Ford doesn't seem worried by the fact that only a small percentage of U.S. repair shops have experience and certification for working with aluminum. Obviously the two metals are very different and require different processes when making repairs, but Ford says it has been working with its dealership network to get dealer repair shops up to speed with the changeover. Ford says 90 percent of its pickup truck owners are within two hours of a qualified repair shop.

Some experts say it could take independent repair shops up to 10 years to become proficient in aluminum repair. That could make for some interesting customer satisfaction issues in the first several years of 2015 F-150 ownership because accidents will happen. Other experts are pretty sure this will all get worked out in time because Ford CEO Alan Mulally has plenty of experience working with aluminum. About 147,000 pounds of it went into each Boeing 747-400 when he was an executive at that company.

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Comments

Will it rust? I'm thinking not. So that could be a good thing in the Midwest and NE and off set the increase cost.

I think that 10% is a conservative number. People who go to authorized Ford locations for repair will pay a lot more, and there simply aren't a lot of guys around who'll want to work on aluminum in independent shops. After these trucks have been on the road a while, people are going to realize how costly ownership of a new F-150 is going to be. This switch is not going to be all roses. And for the SMALL bump in fuel economy it's going to bring...I honestly don't think it's worth the added cost of ownership.

I wonder how paint will hold up on aluminum over time?

Then there is the safety factor. A more lightweight vehicle is not going to perform as well in safety tests without MAJOR engineering changes. A Ram hits a 900 lb. lighter F-150. Who wins?

I never buy any newly redesigned model of anything until the bugs are worked out. It will take me three model years for me to see how it goes.

Aluminum doesn't "rust" in the sense that steel and iron do, but it does oxidize with a white powder that's remarkably easy to wipe/scrape off and is honestly a lot less visible than rust--so you might not even know how extensively your new bodywork is damaged until you poke a hole in it with your finger. To put it bluntly, just because you can't see the rust doesn't mean you aren't experiencing rust-like damage.

About the only way to really protect aluminum is by anodizing it, which involves etching the metal to give the anodizing material surface area to grip. After that, paint should have little problem with adhering to the surface. Again, when corrosion does appear, the effects will be similar to rust on painted surfaces, but with a white powder rather than the characteristic red/orange of rust.

Every owner on average will be 2 hrs. on average from a certified repair shop??
None of the local dealers in my town have their own body shops and I doubt any shop in town does aluminum.
Does that mean I will have to drive (if able) or get my truck hauled 500-600 miles to the closest certified body shop?

I suspect that my town is large enough with plenty of small towns in a 2 hour radius that a local shop will get trained and buy the equipment BUT if only one shop gets the equipment and training they have a monopoly, they can charge what they want on private claims. Our insurance companies will only pay so much for repairs so if a repair excedes the insurance flat rate a shop could be on the hook for the extra costs.
An increase in insurance costs is most likely to occur but IIRC when Dodge came out with the 1994 model they were more expensive to insure due to the hood mounted grill.

"Ford says 90 percent of its pickup truck owners are within two hours of a qualified repair shop".

Obviously Ford thinks that everyone will go to their dealerships for repairs. Some just might have to. There might be no one else to do a proper repair on their truck. Good luck with that and dealerships hourly rates.

Guys, this isn't gonna be funny :)

Like I stated Ford is taking a gamble.

40% weight savings with aluminium vs 35% weight savings with new steel technology.

I work with aluminium. The cost of maintenance/repair will be much more more than the 10% quoted by Ford.

At the moment is aluminium worth it?

By the time aluminium becomes embedded in vehicles (some) you will have composites and 3D manufacturing.

I'm pretty sure that even though Ford decided to save weight by using aluminum, they won't be the only ones to do so. Someone has to be first, shops will adapt to stay in business. That's called evolution!

Jet -Truck big difference , crash a jet its off to the scrap heap , crash a truck its gonna be repaired , took a poll in our bodyshop of 20 , only one is up to speed on aluminum repairs

Aluminum doesn't rust, but it does corrode. It turns into dust, it work-hardens, and cracks. It stretches, like play-doh, but not back to it's original thickness.

In airplanes, they use the necessary amount of aluminum that equals the strength of the heavier metals, but with less mass (weight). That's the savings. Roughly equal in strength as steel but less weight.


It is extremely unlikely that corrosion will be a problem with the aluminum body. Talk to anybody that hauls cattle or horses in an aluminum trailer about how much better aluminum is for corrosion resistance. I have a lot of experience with aluminum between aluminum irrigation systems, tools and other farm parts, and an aluminum horse trailer. In every case I can think of it is superior to alternative materials and worth the extra cost. In my experience it is not nearly as difficult to repair as people say, but it does require separate tools which can be expensive. It won't take long for many auto shops to be equipped for it though. The time it takes for auto shops to cover the cost of the equipment won't be long with such a popular vehicle. I don't think it will raise insurance enough to deter buyers. Ford seems very confident that it isn't a problem, and I'm sure they've done their homework.

I don't know if the magazine cited in the PUTC story is an expert on insurance or bodywork. In fairness to them, let's assume they know how to write content and sell advertising to folks who care about cars/trucks.

Before anyone starts talking about casualty insurance (car ins) let's begin with a fact. Without what insurers call "experience" it will be unknown for a while. We can be sure that anyone who has a car wreck, regardless of steel or alloy, has an expense to deal with.

Second, we know that any new product or concept will quickly be addressed by the industry: New paint products, new equipment, new training and skills. All of this is GOOD for the industry. Most people did not know sh*t about computers 30 years ago but today you can't do much without one. Technology and progress are good things. Relax.

Can't say that we didn't see this one coming! I find it very funny that certain "EXPERTS" insist that everything will be ok since Mulally worked for Boeing. That is laughable at best!

The sky is falling! Land Rover has only been using aluminum for how many decades now?

We have some aluminum wheel line irrigation in use for the last 30 years on our farm. At this point it is near the end of it's life and there are some problems with wear in joints where metal rubs against metal every time it is moved. Very thin material. Most of it probably thinner than any of the sheet metal on the new f-150. And I doubt it is as strong an alloy in our irrigation pipes. Pumping water at 40 to 70 pounds of pressure, holding the weight of all that water, sitting out in the weather all the time, dealing with the stress of being moved once or twice a day all summer long. I've never seen a problem with corrosion on them and I am very impressed with how well they have lasted. Not to mention they are still worth a lot of money (for scrap and parts they are worth at least $8,000 per line. $40,000 per line to buy new today). I think most people are seriously underestimating the benefits of aluminum. I really think less than half the reason for ford going to aluminum is to save weight.

The cost of repairing aluminum is not that significant if you can afford 50k for a truck.

Lets see what they paint it with... maybe that will be better than before.

Just another way to sell more trucks. They will total every truck involved in a major accident.

Body shops willing to step up to the challenge will flourish. The same things went on when autos entered the computer age. Repair shops not willing to learn/train died out. Who knows what they're doing now, but the industry had to move on without them.

The entire auto industry, from foundry to salvage, will benefit from this, in no time at all. Consumers will benefit instantly, down the road and in the long run.

If more trucks get totaled then Ford can sell more trucks. Most of today's vehicles have more composite materials anyway--look at all the plastic body parts most vehicles have and these parts are as expensive or more than steel. If Ford sells just as many of these trucks at a higher price then why not. As Denver Mike has said it will eliminate the cheap skates and bottom feeders. Most large body shops will adapt to the aluminum and if the body parts are beyond repair then they can be replaced.

Seriously I think Ford will do very well with these trucks and most large body shops will adapt to working with aluminum. Also Ford will run production of the older models for a couple of years as they did back in 2004 so there will be plenty of time to buy the prior model F-150. Another thing is that Ford might not transition the F-250s and above to aluminum for several years so there will be a choice for those who don't want aluminum. I would not get that upset.

I said this the first day the new truck was in the news! after an uncle of mine owned a Jag, and found out his insurance went up not 10% but 40% over the Mercedes he traded for the Jag!!!, then after a fender bender he had to have the car hauled 150 miles to the nearest body shop, and then had to fight the insurance adjuster for the amount needed to fix the car!!!Good luck! I will buy a 2014 F-150, and take good care of it before I ever buy a 2015 !The Tremor is looking better every day! the dealer has to come up with a better deal though!

Magnetic signs are not gonna stick.

The aluminum hood on my 2002 F150 is doing just fine after dozens of hail storms and 14 years. I'd be way more concerned about the fully boxed frame on any late model truck rusting in the salt belt than anything aluminum! I'll hold on to my old F150 7700 until the frame of the new one's is either aluminum or stainless.

I do suspect that it will all work out but in regions that do not have large business centres and small towns have "mom and pop" autobody shops, it will be a rougher transition. In Canada 90% of the population lives within 100km (60 miles) of the USA border. The rest of us will not fair as well.

I definately will wait this one out. I'd be in line for a 2014 F150 if I had to replace my truck right now (assuming Ford met my desires and fiscal restraints).

The Ecodiesel with a worst case scenario of death in 2018 is a lower risk for a conumer right now.

Think about road salt. What will that do to aluminum ??

ask a Porshe owner, are they not mostly aluminum? And costly, but not as many of those are out in the nasty weather.

I think that only time will tell how much more expensive the aluminum really is. Interestingly not all truck makers are betting on it yet, ie Ram and GM, so I don't think it's necessarily going to be an instant victory. When Ram's fuel economy number get released, they will likely be the same as or higher than Fords 2.7l Ecoboost.
It's all guess work at this point, but I would be willing to bet that the weight savings on the F150 alone are not quite enough to push it over the edge of surpassing the fuel economy of a diesel. The fact that there are rumors indicating a mini Powerstroke for the F150 indicates that it may very well be the case that they 2.7 ecoboost and weight savings may not quite be enough to outdo a diesel.
At any rate well will see if the aluminum thing is a fad or not, I will let other be the guinea pigs with their aluminum trucks, full size trucks are already expensive enough as it is.

The hood on my 08 F-150 is made of aluminum, and I have no complaints. I like the fact that ford is willing to be a leader and take risks. In the long run gm and dodge will follow. I won't be the first to by one, but I will buy one when this pickup is worn out.

Most of these so called "certified" repair shops can't even do proper color matching let alone getting them to repair a complicated aluminum bodied truck. Every time I see a "repaired" vehicle on the dealer's lot, I can spot the shoddy paint work from a mile away. Every time. Most Ford F-150 owners are not going to be taking their aluminum bodied trucks to the shops where BMW, Jaguar and Porsche owners would be taking their cars to. It gives me the chills just thinking about the lazy hack repair jobs these repair shops are going to be performing on these aluminum body F-150's when they get wrecked. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll stick to my low tech heavy steel body PU truck.

In 10 years (or sooner) all light-duty trucks will have aluminum bodies, Ford is simply blazing the trail, as they often do.

@the real Mike - F-150s are stepping into the realm of German luxury, at least when it comes to body repair, but not completely. Were not talking 'rocket science' though. At the same time, these hack "certified" body shops have had it too good. Same with the "Bondo Bobs" of the industry. Most won't even attempt German luxury. They require expensive, specific 'dedicated benches' or jigs to straighten their bodies. Not true for pickups. Trucks just require replacing the entire frame, even with minor damage. Ladder frames cannot be (legally/technically) straightened, stretched or welded. Trucks with moderately damaged cabs get them replaced. The same with truck beds.

When it comes to German cars, hack body shops don't care about losing these jobs, as they aren't exactly mainstream cars. Now they're forced to rethink their over all strategy. Not my problem.

But I don't plan on wrecking a truck, steal or aluminum body. Crap happens, but I've yet to do more than minor damage or involved in a traffic accident, in over a million miles driven. And I drive and offroad lots more conservatively at 45 years old.

I won't own German sports cars or luxury myself, but it's not because of their aluminum bodies.

So, if you have an accident you guys are saying the repair shop should beat the panel out and weld up cracks. Most repairs I've seen had panels replaced. Speaking of oxidation, how many with aluminum wheels have had them rust out? Typical sky is falling mentality. Then again, if you're a GM or Ram fanboi you may actually need to at least be concerned. If the most abundant metal on earth(about 8% of the earths crust)is a success, they will be several years and billions of dollars behind. It's looking like Serg might use Chrysler's cash to keep European operations afloat, so those funds will evaporate quickly leaving little for development. GM has already spent billions on the recent update, so not sure about them. These are revolutionary times, nothing ventured nothing gained.

My house has painted aluminum siding for over 30yrs, no problem. As others stated my '02 F150 Supercrew has factory aluminum hood and still looks great and I live in New England where they use plenty of road salt. Yea they'll a slight just in costs but I think of it as the same as electric cars when they first come out with a jump in costs until more are made. I have a friend that is a Ford dealer body shop manager. He said they have already sent people out for the new repair training. And no not everyone goes to a dealer but as time goes along and people jump from job to job, some of those trained body guys will work at local repair shops and train others along the way.

This could make or break Ford, it will be interesting to see what happens. This is the most popular vechile in the US so Body shops will have to be able to do this kind of work at least if people are willing to buy it.

It's a fine design, everyone loves to slam the leader, but hey, wait and see.

all I got to say is how do body shops currently fix the aluminum hoods that chevy and ford have already? (not sure if dodge has it or not). whats different from doing bodywork on a body panel vs a hood?
think people are over reacting !

every body is so wrong aluminum is not that brittle i've had a aluminum boat for years i put dents in it i just popped them out with a hammer is aluminum is hard to weld. if you wrinkel steel body panel you replace it same as aluminum why will it cost more to insure. i will tell you why it will cost more to insure it .the insurance companies want more money

It will be interesting on how this turns out.
GM & RAM will exploit it for a reason to buy from them.
No doubt that they will follow with aluminum if it works out for Ford. Time will tell & the question is, will Ford have enough time to prove it was the right decesion.
Higher cost for insurance & repairs, how will this affect resale on a very popular truck?
Ford is not above making mistakes & losing market share.
The Taurus had the #1 spot until Ford tripped up & Toyota moved right in.
I was a little suprised by the engine lineup, seems there is one to many Ecoboosts & the lack of a big engine.

GM criticized the man step and heated steering wheel. Then they copied them. Wouldn't be surprised if they knock the aluminum, they might win over some of their uneducated fans, but I think they will all end up implementing aluminum bodies at some point. Ford and Ram seem to be the two most innovative companies in pickups right now.

IN the Feb. 2014 issue of Truck Trend they mentioned that GM had gone over the idea of using aluminum for their new 2014 trucks beds, but deemed it not to be good enough, however in the passed they have used a type of plastic for their beds, I know of one around here, and the owner is a commercial fisherman, who won the truck at the local Bass and Bluefish Derby, and the bed is as nice as new, and I believe it is a 2004 Silverado Z-71 ext cab, and this guy is constantly hauling wet salt water fish to market!!, and the bed of his old F-150? well lets just say when he won the new truck he was very deserving, as his old truck was a home made flatbed, and was only 8 years old at the time, so now here he is with a 9 years old Chevy, and the plastic composite bed looks as good as new!! Maybe Chevy/GMC should bring that bed option back?

"crash a jet its off to the scrap heap"

Once they see the high repair costs, maybe f150 owners will do the same thing, recycle their trucks just like you would beer & soda cans.

The whole concept of a shop needing to buy tools to work on the truck is weird. Body shops replace panels now days. anyone that thinks they can bend aluminum and its structural integrity isn't compromised doesn't know jack! the insurance cost will be from replacing every aluminum panel that has a any type of damage that could compromise the safety of the vehicle. aluminum is all over every vehicle made in the last decade. most of it is un painted and raw. I have never in my 15 years of heavy experience in multiple forms of the auto industry physically viewed a piece of aluminum that was failing from corrosion. yes I know they corrode and do it very fast too, but no suspension or steering parts have ever failed due to corrosion in front of me which means that if they do fail it will be a isolated incident, and the part should be deemed defective from the get go. many truck built with aluminum hoods that have no problems. this is nothing really new and it is not really all that great. its just different, plain and simple. Hope that gm uses plastic and reallyt blows them all out of the water with new plastic tech that can strengthen and lighten a truck much more than aluminum or even titanium.
Saturn cars made of plastic in northeast would shatter in cold weather accidents only downfall I can see.

@Mr. Chow - How is that any different with a pickup?

anyone that changes tires knows about aluminum corrosion. leaves a bad taste in your mouth lol

Maybe John DeLorean had it right with stainless steel. No rust, good insulator... besides, the stainless steel construction makes the flux dispersal...

@ Lou

It's different in that now, instead of being sent to the steel section, it'll go to the empty beer and soda can section.

Peterbilts has been using aluminum cabs forever and they hold up great and paint is great. I don't see what the big deal is this new aluminum bodied f150 is a great idea

Peterbuilts are built to a much higher standard, and use many methods from air craft building to get there.

The talk of aviation technology used in motor vehicles is a little over the top.

A construction of a Peterbuilt would be more closely related to building construction.

The same could be stated with the connection between the F-150 and a German prestige vehicle. WTF? A Mahindra has aluminium in it and it's far from being a German prestige vehicle.

My toaster has Space Shuttle technology in it, most every frying pan has technology from the space race in it. It doesn't mean my toaster and frying pan is a Space Shuttle equivalent (at least the Tundra can claim to have towed it).

The extra cost of the Ford for insurance will be a permanent feature. The fact is, working with aluminium is more expensive.

Aluminium is nothing new and it is the second most common metal used. So from an engineering perspective most every problem encountered for repair has already been achieved.

Aluminium is more sensitive to damage. Go out the back with different series of aluminium and bend a right angle in the aluminium. Then straighten it out like most steel. watch what occurs. Aluminium is more prone to stress fractures in this situation. The aluminium is weakened. To have very ductile aluminium would make it useless for a body panel.

So if an aluminium vehicle is in an accident most of the damage will be replace and not repaired.

The skin of the truck will be the easiest to replace. But once the structural parts of the truck body is damaged then you will see the costs rise. Cutting and welding aluminium isn't the best option, that's why most of the F-150 will be bonded or riveted.

I do know insurance in the US is extremely high by our standards. My mother pays over $100 dollars a month for a Focus compared to my $70 a month for my $50 000 pickup. This is also in an isolated region and only two insurers will cover my vehicle making the insurance more expensive.

How much will a $50-60 thousand dollar F-150 cost?

I suppose we will see manufacturers start up their own insurance arms, just to sell vehicles.

@BAF0 - Just calm down there. No need to panic, midsizers aren't dead. Yet. Just another nail in the coffin... But only YOU could turn a blind eye to all the positives of this advancement. Clearly the positives, and all things gained by aluminum bodied trucks, far outweighs any negatives, IF there are any. That we'll have to wait and see, but clearly there's not enough cash flow in the mid-size truck segment to warrant this type of capital investment. It might take 25 years for all cars and trucks to convert to aluminum bodies, but you can thank Ford for paving the way. But it's not like Ford to just jumped in blindly. I'm sure it took many years in planning and R&D. Besides the German OEMs laying down the ground work (or grunt work) for extensive use of aluminum, it's nothing new on Ford vehicles. Millions of aluminum body panels are out there with zero issues. That's just on F-150s. There's also millions Crown Vics, Town Cars, Expeditions, etc, with aluminum panels. The sky's not falling, Chicken Little...



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