Edmunds.com Sledge Hammers New 2015 F-150 Body Panel, Determines Repair is Dramatically More

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One of the biggest questions surrounding the new 2015 F-150 is on repairability. Will the new F-150 cost a substantial amount more money to repair than steel? While we don’t preciously know because repair facilities and damage varies, Edmunds.com took its best shot at finding out. The videos really speak for themselves.

With a sledge hammer in hand, Edmunds damaged their new F-150 in order to answer the repair question.

With a sledge hammer in hand, Edmunds damaged their new F-150 in order to answer the repair question.

This first video outlines the game plan. Damage the F-150 in a way where it has to be repaired and get an estimate.

How much did the repair cost? Find out with this second video.

Our Take

First, wow! What a cool idea by Edmunds.com! While there will be critics of most anything, we applaud them for doing this. Also, we applaud them for doing this test without any manufacture involvement and keeping it a secret from the repair shop.

The labor rate of the aluminum versus steel was surprising and is a big part of repair price equation. While they got a deal, we know this will not always be the case and insurance companies will be forking over the higher rate. This means, the premiums will be higher for some drivers.

We also suspect the higher repair rate will lead to more aluminum trucks being totaled out completely rather than repaired.

Also, the taillamp housing is ridiculously expensive. This item does seem to get damaged quite often and we can’t imagine the owner’s shock when they hear the price.

In the end, a $4k+ repair bill, twice that of steel, is not going to make many owners happy.

To note and in all fairness, this is just one part of the new truck. Ford went to great lengths to make the other panels and pieces removable simple replacement and cheaper repair. And Edmunds.com specifically targeted a piece that couldn’t be cheaply fixed. Also, this test isn’t the “complete” picture of the repairability of the truck.

While we could talk about this all day, what is your take? What surprised you?

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. TruthHurts says:

    If this same test was performed on a Tundra it would have bent the frame.

  2. gordich says:

    Sounds like TruthHurts has brand envy…

  3. Hemi lol says:

    Wow, for the little savings of weight its a COMPLETE waste to use the aluminum!!!!!

    Ok, think down the road from now 10 years…….. a very MINOR accident would total this pickup truck due to extensive cost to repair it! I’m certain the ins. companies have this figured out…….

    Between low gas prices, horribly complex powertrains and aluminum bodies and with a comparably powered 3.5 ecoboost that will only muster up about 20mpg in the 4×4 real world, it will cost you MORE in the long run to own that vs. the CURRENT 5.7 Tundra. I believe Ford has made a MONSTER mistake….. only time will tell.

    OH yeah to the guy with the first comment……. at least when you drive a Tundra over the twist simulator the tailgate doesn’t bend like the superduty.

    • CHRIS FINCH says:

      Think 10 yrs down the road the cost will be significantly less because more shops will be able to fix and it will be the standard not the new.

      • Tim Esterdahl says:

        Not trying to be argumentative, but you really see the price per hour for labor costs dropping by the current double to even for both steel and aluminum? That would be impressive in my book considering the materials will not change.


  4. Larry says:

    Since most of these aluminum F150s will do nothing but drive to the office, the engines might work out. With a few times locking up the front differential when it rains the doors might not fall off.

    It will be a good truck for racing down the on ramps in LA to merger into traffic. In modern times , 1/4 mile times for a truck are lot more important then hauling around sheets of drywall, plywood or a load of bricks, sand, lime and portland cement.

    Cross dry washes, and drive over ledges in Canyon Lands National Park on the way out the the Land of Standing Rocks in a nice leather seat 4 door truck with the AC on driven by a 2.7 twin turbo race motor, that might be a problem.

    The new F150 might make the perfect lead out vehicle for the Indy 500, locked in 4WD of course. Wouldn’t want to get stuck in front of the field.

  5. Brian J says:

    I, and I am pretty sure I stand alone among readers of this site, applaud Ford for having the testicular fortitude to risk aluminum and small displacement, turbocharged engines on their most important vehicle. A flub with the F-150 is a flub for all of Ford. Time will tell, but I think this is going to be a win for Ford and the pickup truck industry. The 2028 Tundra will likely have aluminum and a turbo V-6 (I would say 2021, but I don’t think Toyota will move that fast if history is any indication). I’m still upset that it looks like I have to wait until 2021 to get a larger bed, better mileage, and a fully-boxed frame. Sigh.

    • Hemi lol says:

      Why would u want a boxed frame? They are stupid marketing at best, I really get tired of reading people saying that. The tundras frame cost 40% more money to build than the f150 frame. They did it because they are cheap, period. Not one single class 4 and up dump truck or any box truck nor semi has a box frame, there’s a reason for that…… Rigidity doesn’t equal durability.

      • Brian J says:

        4 out of 5 half-ton trucks have a fully boxed frame. I understand the need for chassis flex, but how much is excessive to be of little/no use?

        So, sell it to me! Using good engineering wisdom and reasoning, respectful discussion, and resources we can all check: why is the Tundra triple-tech frame superior to the fully-boxed version used by GM, Ford, and Nissan?

        That said, I never had any frame issues with my Tundra other than pavement imperfections that would ripple from the rear axle to the front wheels.

        I’m interested to hear your argument…

      • Mike says:

        I’m a junior mechanical engineering student at and I’m on my fourth statics/mechanics class. All things being equal, the boxed frame should be stronger. It has a greater cross-sectional area, moment of inertia, and first area of moment. This means that the frame will experience less stress. Less stress, for a given material, means less flex. This actually helps durability because higher stress sustained over time could lead to a fatigue failure. Having said all of that, I don’t know anybody that has had a broken frame. The welds on the boxed frame can be a stress concentration spot, but I don’t know the extent of it. I drive a 2000 Tundra with mostly c-channel and I love it. Overloaded it pretty good a few times last summer and the frame made it.

        • Larry says:

          I would agree that it will be stronger then and open channel steel frame. Does it matter? Why not replace all the steel with carbon fiber, that would be much stronger and would not rust?

          I too had classes in statics and dynamics along with classes in mechanical and electro mechanical devices. Thats when I learned how planetary gear systems and oil filled torque converters work and why I hate the things. I finished with an electrical engineering degree. So, I agree with all your points.

          So now I have a question for you. How strong does a frame on 1/2 ton pickup which does mostly nothing but drive around town empty really need to be. Should the frame on a Tundra be as strong as a 20 ton Cat D10 dozer? Where is the sanity start and the marketing hype end?

          • Mike says:

            I’m glad somebody could confirm what I said. I agree with you that this is mostly marketing and all half ton frames are more than strong enough for 95% of drivers. It’s just that there aren’t many logical arguments made for either design, and I wanted to add some points to that. It’s probably irrelevant because you’ll probably break something else before you get to the point where your frame will break.

          • Brian J says:

            I think we can all agree that the frame is not going to fail under the load conditions it was designed for.

            To answer Larry: Does the frame need to be as strong as a 20 ton Cat? No. Any frame that can take the normal punishment and abuse of most truck owners is sufficient, but most truck owners overload their trucks. I know I did! I hauled a load of sod in the bed of my 96 Tacoma and the truck was resting on the rear bump stops. It was an open C channel. Did the frame bend? No. Did it break? No. It did just fine. So if we are saying that C channel is just as good (in terms of durability) and being less metal is cheaper to manufacture, then why is every other truck maker using fully boxed? Some even use hydro-formed boxed frames. Does it have to do with ride quality? Perhaps less transmission of vibration from the road? There has got to be a reason that other truck makers are willing to spend the money on it.

          • Larry says:

            About 10 years ago, I helped out a non-profit group run a 6 day river trip on the Green River in Utah. The take out was at a place called Mineral Bottom. Several miles up a steep dirt road with many switch backs. Lots of drop offs and many people are afraid to drive it.

            My 1994 T100 3.0L V6 had a trailer with a dory, 4 Rolled rafts on top of the dory. Back of the 8 foot bed stuffed to the top of the cap with coolers dry boxes and river bags. On the roof, 4 raft frames, 20 oars lashed on top of that. The spring were down on to the stops. I crawled up out of there in low range with no trouble at all with a 150 HP motor. I had the truck weight and another 4000 pounds for sure.

            Now I am not advocation this use but, a Tundra or any F150 is a much more capable truck then my old V6 T100. The point is if a super light truck can do this kind of thing we are going way over board with what is happening in the modern pickup. It’s just plain crazy that people think 350 HP and 350 foot pounds of torque are under powered.

            Now everyone is debating which frame is stronger. Just crazy.

          • Tim Esterdahl says:


            Good story and agreed. It’s funny my cousin is a farmer and he tells me all the time full-size trucks are just nuts these days. Things have gone so nuts, he parks his diesel truck a lot and uses his John Deere Gator to check irrigation. The payload on the gator is enough for all of his tasks and the new HD trucks are just plain overkill to him.

            I’ve also reported on this with city maintenance crews. They are increasingly switching to smaller trucks or even electric trucks. These trucks have all the capacity they need without being ridiculous like a 1-ton. Much cheaper to operate as well.


        • Tim Esterdahl says:


          First, thanks for commenting!

          Second, another misconception with the Tundra is that it isn’t fully boxed. This simply isn’t 100% true. It is fully boxed in the rear. This is due to this section needing to handle the most weight. It also reinforces your point about strength.

          Thanks for the insight.


    • Josh says:

      Have you ever owned a Toyota? I have been a ford guy my whole life. 37 years. Owned 3 new f-150 and have spent a lot of time in a 13 Eco boost….. My 12 tundra is twice the truck any f-150 I have owned and would not trade it for the a new one if you paid me to. The Eco gets no where the claimed 20 mpg in the real world…. I use my trucks as trucks and will never go back to a f-150….

    • Brian – Ford absolutely deserves kudos for being bold, but in my view the use of aluminum was a strategic error. The fuel economy gains were minimal, and it’s clear that at least some consumers will suffer because of Ford’s decision to use an unorthodox body material typically reserved for luxury cars.

      Having said that, it certainly is possible that the rest of the industry will follow them. CAFE regs are a major challenge, especially for automakers like Ford, GM, and FCA, which depend on vehicles with large footprints for a big portion of sales.

      But I do not believe Toyota will go this route. They’re not under the same CAFE pressure that other automakers are because of their high volume of efficient cars sold. What’s more, Toyota’s fuel cell technology offers more promise for meeting CAFE regs than aluminum…Toyota could produce and sell just a few thousand FCV Tundras a year in 2020 or 2025 and satisfy the regs (assuming they upgrade the Tundra’s fuel economy).

      Speaking of upgrades, Toyota’s atkinson cycle tech will make its’ way to the Tundra soon, along with an upgraded transmission. These two technologies will likely match the fuel economy Ford is advertising, but unlike Ford’s fuel saving technology, Toyota’s enhancements will bear fruit at the gas pump (as we’ve discussed, EcoBoost engines rarely get EPA mileage…they’re much more similar to 5.0L engines in terms of real-world gas mileage).

      Again, I’m not slamming Ford. If fuel was still $4 a gallon, the aluminum F-150 would be much better received by the public. But in my view, Ford took a step in the wrong direction…and I think this sort of information helps to illustrate why.

      • Brian J says:

        Good points all around, and I do respect your viewpoint. Interested to see the future of trucks, and how Toyota responds.

  6. CHRIS FINCH says:


  7. mendonsy says:

    I guess I’ll go back to my original comment that I made when the aluminum Ford was first announced here.
    “Made from recycled beer cans!”

  8. LJC says:

    Has there ever been a frame failure with either design? If one provides a slightly better ride than the other, who cares! These are trucks!

  9. Larry says:

    Boxed, not boxed, I beam. I have no idea what shape frame steel is under my truck. I don’t actually know if my truck even has a frame, it might be uni-body for all I know. Such marketing hype, who cares.

    Never heard of any truck frame breaking in half. Actual I do know that my truck has a frame because last March a 100 foot tall tree crushed the bed and it bent the frame behind the axel. Boxed, not boxed, that I don’t remember. The bent frame is now covered with a flat bed and work fine.

    The only thing that matters is total cost of ownership, cost per mile.

  10. LJC says:

    The cost of the repair is the first eye opener.
    The second will be when one catches fire.

    • Three will be horror stories of corrosion where the aluminum body panels meet the steel frame.

      To be fair, Toyota’s corrosion reputation isn’t stellar, but galvanic corrosion is much more aggressive than old fashioned oxidation. I predict we’ll start hearing horror stories and seeing outrageous pictures by 2018. While a lot of the problems will be a result of inappropriate repairs or body damage, the Internet won’t care.

  11. LJC says:

    So, when the real cost of aluminum comes to the forefront and F series sales suffer, I wonder if they’ll throw Alan Mulally under the bus.

  12. Larry says:

    Even a highschool chemistry student knows about the electrical problems of dissimilar metals. Ford engineers surely must have the isolation problem figured out. The risk would be too high for them to over look that.

    Then again, they had enough trouble just dealing with spark plugs which have been around for 100 years.

    If they have aluminum/steel galvanic corrosion problems, the cost could be the end of Ford.

    I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. My money will be safely parked in the bank while the show plays out.

  13. dodgeguy97 says:

    Why is this d-bag just criticizing the shit out of the F-150. Why didn’t they sledge hammer the Silverado for comparison? Why is he mentioning the aesthetics of the truck in a video about repair costs? This doesn’t prove how much repair would cost in an actual heavy vehicle crash.


    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      You are missing the point of the video. They specifically wanted to see what the aluminum repair cost would be.


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