DETROIT -- By the time the 2015 aluminum-body Ford F-150 hits dealerships in the fourth quarter, thousands of collision repair technicians, insurance estimators, Ford field staffers and others will have gone to school in one of the biggest industry training programs ever.
The F-150 is the biggest-selling vehicle in the United States, and Ford wants to be sure there are collision repair specialists who know what they're doing the first time a wrecked one rolls into a shop.
When aluminum is bent or broken, it behaves differently than steel. Repair shops need to have different tools to perform some aluminum structural repairs, and Ford strongly recommends they set up separate areas for working on aluminum because of steel-aluminum contamination issues.
I-CAR, (the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair) in Hoffman Estates, Ill., a nonprofit organization that trains and certifies repair technicians, will administer the training in conjunction with Ford. The automaker will cover the cost of training for one technician per dealership. Dealerships that want to have more than one trained technician will pay the additional training expense.
I-CAR is mobilizing a staff of at least 200 instructors, who went through a training program of their own.
"It's definitely a big undertaking, but it will not stress our capability," said Jason Bartanen, I-CAR's director of industry technical relations, "We've been preparing for this a couple of years"