Aluminum repair has recently become the new buzzword in the automotive field – manufacturers have utilized more aluminum than ever because of its fuel efficiency. Some OEM’s are now making entire vehicles all out of aluminum. Any vehicle with aluminum parts requires special, separate aluminum damage repair spaces and tools – and specific training for the technicians making the repairs. Follow the steps below for the best practice in aluminum damage repair.
Use caution when working with aluminum parts. Dedicated cutting tools and abrasives for aluminum must be used to prevent any cross contamination (which could result in galvanic corrosion). Ensure the shop has adequate ventilation to eliminate the risk of explosion.
Clean the Vehicle
Prior to disassembly of the area, wash and clean vehicle thoroughly, power washing near the repair area if needed. You want to eliminate any contaminants, as well as discover additional damage to up-sell the repair and prevent unjustified claims.
Initial Prep Sand
Sand the repair area with an 80 grit abrasive, removing the paint beyond the damage by 1-2 inches. Round off the coarse grit scratch on the bare aluminum to prevent bridging. This will eliminate primer sinking into scratches and reduce pinholes; it will also prepare the paint edge to receive premium filler.
When done with sanding, use a lint-free wipe to clean the panel using Panel Adhesive Cleaner.
Mix and Apply Filler
Mix body filler on a non-porous mixing board using the recommended hardener ratio. Slice and fold in the hardener. Do not stir or flip rapidly. Apply body filler to the panel, being careful to keep the body filler within the bare metal area. Smooth mixing and application will help eliminate or reduce pinholes.
Block or Sand the Body Filler
Apply guide coat then begin sanding with 80 grit file, block or DA sander. Finish sand the body filler to eliminate any pinholes and low spots, wiping off any excess debris. Reapply guide coat as needed to identify pin holes and low spots.
Feather Edge and Apply Putty or Glaze
Feather edge the body filler and surrounding paint with a DA sander using 180 grit sanding disc. Sand from high toward low areas, and from center toward outer edge. Clean off with lint-free wipe then apply a skim coat of Putty or Glaze over the repair area, overlapping the paint feather edge. Sand the glaze with 180 grit; apply guide coat and continue sanding to remove any pinholes or high spots. Finish sanding with 320 grit (or the grit recommended as per the paint manufacturer's guidelines) then wipe off debris and examine for coarse sand scratches, pinholes or low spots.
Objective: Improve finish and eliminate solvent penetration under the edge of the repair area.
The vehicle is now ready to move onto the paint and detail section of the shop to get ready for customer delivery.
Printer-friendly PDF version available.