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The Difference Between Steel and Aluminum

The Difference Between Steel and Aluminum

Car body materials—steel and aluminum—both have benefits and negatives in collision repair. Both materials have different ways of manipulating the metal back into shape. But why does this matter? Collision repair is just collision repair right?
It’s just a different set of tools needed right? Wrong. It’s wrong because aluminum requires more finesse, more expertise required to bring out a dent, or deep scratch. Anytime you need body repair you want the best, most experienced body shop technicians, to be working on either your steel or aluminum bodied car or truck, however, it’s especially important with aluminum body repair.

Ways in which Steel and Aluminum differ

Steel tends to retain some memory to its present shape, even when it’s dented. Aluminum, however, requires a skill set to reshape aluminum, as well as a set of special tools, including an aluminum dent-pulling station.

Another big difference between steel and aluminum is how both materials react to heat. Aluminum is much harder to weld than steel, because Aluminum heats much more quickly, the heat travelling through the metal much faster than steel.
The technician welding the aluminum will need to use special welders, and have the proper training and experience in welding aluminum. The problem is that improperly welded aluminum is weak and dangerous to drive.
Consider the new Ford aluminum bodied trucks: these trucks are not entirely welded together as in the traditional steel constructed truck bodies, but riveted and glued.

Also, aluminum and steel together are corrosive materials, and body shops that don’t have dedicated equipment to handle both materials could adversely affect one or the other in transition.


As a body shop that specialized in the repair there’s little difference except for the skill needed to make repairs. But, as a material, steel is obviously much quicker and easier to repair. But, Aluminum, is a better performer when it’s not damaged because aluminum is as strong as steel, however it’s much lighter, therefore working with considerably better gas mileage.

Regardless of your choice of body material, Track Side Auto Body is here, specializing in the repair of both.


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  • Ali
    December 9, 2016, 3:40 pm REPLY

    Good to know.

  • Jamie
    December 14, 2016, 10:01 am REPLY

    Awesome article thanks for sharing.

  • Pam
    April 6, 2017, 6:11 pm REPLY

    Good to know.

  • Izaiah
    February 13, 2018, 9:24 am REPLY

    Good to know.

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