Metal Repair & Replacement
In the course of our collision work, we usually wind up repairing or replacing several body panels and other aluminum or steel parts. Whether a parts is repaired or replaced is determined by several factors and is done on a case by case basis.
As an I-CAR shop, we follow OEM recommendations when we do collision repairs but that can often still leave many decisions up to us. Our primary concern is that when we are done with the work, your vehicle should be every bit as safe as it was before the damage occurred.. In some cases, replacement parts for classic vehicles are much stronger than the originals, due to the increased strength of newer alloys.
The rule of thumb for metal panels on a car is as follows:
If it’s bent, repair it. If it’s kinked, replace it.
What’s the difference between a kink and a bend?
A part is bent when the change in the shape of the part between the damaged and undamaged areas is smooth and continuous and straightening it restores its shape to pre-accident condition without any areas of permanent deformation.
When a steel part is slightly bent without buckling, it has not undergone the extensive work hardening that happens with more extensive damage. Because of this, it is likely that a "bent" part can be reshaped, without affecting the steel properties. This damage type also is more likely to be corrected with cold straightening.
A part is kinked when it has a sharp bend with a small radius and/or after straightening, there is a visible crack or tear in the metal. It’s also kinked if there is a permanent area of deformation that will not straighten to its original shape without the use of excessive heat.
This is where the material of the panel in question comes in. Because they have different properties, damage that can be repaired on a steel panel may sometimes not be repaired on an aluminum one, even though they are similar in size. This is where experience comes into play and why you want an expert, like our repair technicians, to make this determination.