First manufactured in 1948, Ford Motor Company’s F-Series of light- and medium-duty trucks has been the best-selling pickup in the United States since 1977 and, indeed, the best-selling vehicle overall since 1986. This popularity is a testament to the quality of construction, engineering, and durability built into these vehicles.
With the 2015 introduction of the F-150 (the 13th generation of the F-series), Ford engineers sought to increase fuel economy by dramatically reducing the weight of the vehicle while at the same time retaining its exterior design footprint. To achieve this goal, they switched the material of the bed and nearly every body panel from heavy steel to substantially lighter aluminum (though high-strength steel was retained for the makeup of the frame itself). Among the compounded benefits of this change, F-150 trucks can run with a smaller powertrain and other similarly downsized components, further reducing weight and increasing fuel efficiency.
But no matter how well built the truck—even with high-tech extras like adaptive cruise control and a 360°—view camera for better maneuverability—sometimes accidents do happen, requiring a visit to your friendly local body shop. With the F-150, however, there’s a catch. True, the use of aluminum parts shaved some 700 pounds off the truck’s total curb weight, resulting in significantly better performance, operating efficiency, and fuel economy savings. Yet, those savings come at a logistical cost. Ford truck owners can’t go to just any body shop in the event of a collision: they have to be choosy and pick one that has invested in the right equipment and with technicians trained and certified in working with aluminum specifically used in Ford vehicles.