Cars that have aluminum parts require a special, separate area within the shop with adequate ventilation as well as dedicated cutting tools and abrasive products. Technicians must also take specific training to make these aluminum repairs. These special precautions must be taken for aluminum to prevent any cross contamination, which could result in galvanic corrosion or even an explosion. Follow the steps below for the best practice in aluminum part replacement.
Clean The Vehicle
Prior to disassembly of the area impacted by the collision, wash and clean the 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.
Use a file belt tool with a coarse belt or disc sander with an aggressive woven stripping disc to remove seam sealers and coatings where necessary.
Remove the remaining rivet/spot weld material from the substrate using an 80 grit abrasive belt. Prep remaining mating flanges with a coarse grit belt. When grinding steel rivets or spot welds that are bonded to aluminum, remove any metal shavings contaminants from the repair area to prevent galvanic corrosion. Encouraged practices include vacuuming or wipe down of area.
After referring to the OEM's heat range specifications, remove the exterior panel from original substrate. Based on the OEM's recommendations, cut sections off the panel as needed.
To ensure the surface is ready for adhesive/bonding, repeat process as outlined in Aluminum Rivet Bonding Best Practice as necessary.
Follow installation instructions as per OEM recommendations. Part installation may include adhesives.
After the new aluminum part has been installed, the vehicle needs to move onto the refinishing process, and head to the paint booth for repainting, and detail to complete the job.
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