Advanced Steels and Its Impact on Collision Repair in Repair

Despite the increasing use of aluminum and even carbon fiber in the construction of today’s automobiles, manufacturers still use steel in producing most of the current crop of cars. But the need for lighter vehicles have forced manufacturers and steels supplier to use high-strength steels, which have different properties compared to traditional mild steels, and which require different techniques when it comes to collision repair. This evolution in steels has extensively affected vehicle design and construction and it only follows that the collision repair industry upgrades its skill sets in order to properly repair these cars.

Visually, the new high-strength steels differ very little from the traditional steels that collision repair technicians have become familiar with. Unless they have already undergone specific training and have been made aware by automobile manufacturers, repair technicians will only notice that they are working with a different material when the structure they are working on is not behaving as they expect. They’d also be wondering why their drill bits are dulling so easily, or their heating up of a steel section causes it to deform.  And here lies the danger in being ignorant to the properties of these new steels. A repair done by a technician on these new materials can result in a job that is visually perfect yet structurally more impaired. This is where a close working relationship with a dealer or manufacturer is important, because changes to structures as well as design modifications can be implemented at any time by a manufacturer. And yet the knowledge is not publicly disseminated and will exist only in the shop manuals or technical service bulletins.

For example, should a certain structural sub-assembly be repaired or replaced? Is repair even within the specification of the manufacturer? Is there a specific sequence for parts removal and assembly? In contrast to traditional mild steel, today’s high-strength steels are mixed with alloys, which allows to thinner sections while providing high strength for crash protection and safety. And heating these treated metals oftentimes destroys the strength that makes these steels so useful in today’s cars.

Consumers need to be aware of these developments because your trusted collision repair shop may not be updating their knowledge base. Without knowing the proper techniques and methodologies to repair vehicles using high-strength steels, the car owner may be blissfully unaware that his or her car no longer has the crash protection that was there before an accident.

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