We bought the $52,000 F-150 from Galpin Ford in Van Nuys, California. The day after the truck was delivered to our Edmunds office in Santa Monica, I went to work with the BFH, intentionally denting the Ford's right quarter panel.
Crazy? Maybe. But we wanted to find out if repairing the aluminum-bodied Ford is more expensive and time-intensive than repairing traditional steel-bodied trucks. Remember, the F-150 is the first pickup truck with a lightweight aluminum body and bed. After much thought we chose to smash the bed side because it would need to be repaired, as opposed to a dented door, fender or hood, which could simply be replaced.
So in the name of consumer awareness we dented our truck with two big blows from a sledgehammer (the impact also cracked the taillight) and drove it straight from the Edmunds garage to our local Ford dealer, Santa Monica Ford, and asked for an estimate. Take the jump to check out the sledgehammer video.
Hiding the fact that we're Edmunds.com was important so our experience truly represented the real world. No special treatment.
I also didn't want to admit that I had hit the truck with a hammer, so I lied and told the service advisor that the damage happened while I was parked. I told him I had no idea what happened. I also told him that to avoid raising my insurance rates, I'd be paying out of pocket for this repair.
He grimaced and sympathized with me, then got out his clipboard and pointed out the areas that needed repair.
Various sections of the panel had deformed and would need to be pounded out. Near both the top and the bottom of the panel, there were creases and folds in the aluminum that would need to be fixed before they could be painted. According to the advisor, the aluminum would be much harder to fix than steel. His shop was trained to fix the aluminum but it required special tools and would take extra time. A job like this on an F-150 with steel panels "would take half the time."
After about 10 minutes, the advisor came out with an estimate.
I approved the work and asked if I could come back in a few days and photograph the repair in progress. He agreed.
Stay tuned for Part 2.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor @ 263 miles
We would like to thank edmunds.com for allowing Autobody News to reprint their article.