2015 Ford F-150 Aluminum Hail
John Goreham's picture

Aluminum 2015 Ford F-150 not at risk from hail damage according to top engineer

We had a chance to ask Ford’s lead F-150 Engineer one thing face to face, and we put the question of hail to the chief.

The 2015 Ford F-150 is new from the ground up, and the big news is that its body will be made from aluminum. Although Ford has done extensive testing on the truck, we wondered if the roof, fenders, and hood would be able to resist hail damage, and how it would compare to the steel F-150 in that regard. We were lucky enough to have a moment to speak directly to Pete Reyes, Ford’s Chief Engineer for the new F-150 and he says there is no cause for concern.

Evolution to Aluminum of the Ford F-150
At a recent technology conference organized by the New England Motor Press and held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pete Reyes, Ford’s Chief Engineer for the Ford F-150, took a small group of the automotive media through the full development of the 2015 F-150. It is an amazing story that began in 2008 and the final product's finishing touches came right down to the wire. However, the most-exciting part of the presentation for us came at the end when we had a chance to ask Mr. Reyes one question directly. We asked about hail.

Will Hail Damage the F-150's Aluminum Roof and Hood?
Our question to Mr. Reyes was “If two F-150s were in a parking lot, one current generation made mostly of steel, and the new F-150 made mostly of aluminum on the outside, is the new one more or less susceptible to hail damage?" After having heard the presentation we should have known the answer, but we were glad to hear it directly. Mr. Reyes said "Dent and ding damage is something we looked at with the new truck. Gauge and thickness has a lot to do with the resistance to damage, and we made sure the new truck was tougher."

That answers that. Our concern was that steel has both a greater hardness and also a higher tensile strength than aircraft grade aluminum. Thus, it would seem that aluminum might be at a higher risk of hail damage. However, the thickness, or gauge, of the metal is also a key factor. Apparently, Ford has used a thickness able to withstand hail.

Aluminum Not New To This Ford Team
Although the 2015 Ford F-150 may seem as if it is groundbreaking, the only thing unusual about using aluminum on the F-150 is that pickup trucks take more abuse than most vehicles. The Ford team that worked on this new truck's evolution came from the same team that worked on the aluminum cars at Jaguar-Land Rover. It should be noted that Jaguars have been made of aluminum for the better part of a century. The new Range Rover that went on sale last year, a tough vehicle in its own right, is also “all-aluminum.”

Related Stories:
The 2015 Ford F150 Debuts in Detroit as the Strongest and Most Durable Ever
New F-150 Aluminum Body May Have Higher Repair Costs


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Comments

Ahhh, but how much hail and if it is damaged, is it a loss or can the dents be pulled out like they can currently? :)
Not at risk - boy, that's a catchy, albeit completely untrue, headline. A roof might be able to be PDR'd. If a hood has enough dents in it, regardless of how deep they are, it's more cost effective to simply replace the hood. Doing any conventional body shop work on a hood with all the reinforcements welded to it is way too time consuming.
What mularkely! Great, they made the new aluminum truck with thicker guage. How much thicker? So, the hail dent won't be as deep as steel??? Pure marketing BS.
F-150 trucks have had aluminum hoods since 1997, and I've fixed lots of hail dents on them. If it can be shaped, it can be dented. The engineer said the truck is "tougher" you say "not at risk". Catchy headline but a real stretch.
I also do pdr for a living and I have yet to see a aluminum hood that will with stand hail damage the aluminum always dents worse than the metal panels on a vehicle. They can be fixed but its just harder to work with aluminum. Im not really looking forward to working on the new f150s but I will be buying one when them come out im a ford guy.
Aluminum panels dent just like steel and it is tougher to repair using the painless dent removal process. Making it a thicker gauge will just make it even more difficult for PDR to be an effective solution. The high strength steel that the F-150 is currently using is incredibly tough to work. There is a 25-50% up charge to repair aluminum and high strength steel panels.
In 2006 I was camping in Minnesota when a nasty Thunderstorm with marble size hail and strong winds came through. The steel hood on my 2004 Chevy Suburban got peppered with over 50 dents. Parked next to me was a newer Ford Expedition with an aluminum hood. The Expedition only had a few noticeable dings. Made me a believer.
Hi John, Pete Reyes is correct in his description that the all-new Ford F-150's high-strength, aluminum alloy body is more dent and ding resistant than the outgoing truck. However, that does not mean it can't be damaged by hail. Like almost any material, smart engineering can make it more durable but not necessarily invincible. Thanks! - Mike Levine (Disclosure: I manage Ford Truck Communications)
Indeed, I was sensitive to that and was not trying to catch him up. That is why I asked the question like I did. Thank you very much for reading and for taking time to comment.
Just to add to the conversation, I own a car that has an aluminum hard-top convertible roof and also a hood and trunk of aluminum. My previous car was a cloth convertible with the hood and trunk aluminum. I was hoping to hear better news about the material in general, but the comments overall (about existing vehicles) makes me nervous about the material for my own vehicle which is not built to be tough, but rather, light. I will continue to try to keep out of hail, but in the summer you can only do so much. Thanks for the real-life experience comments from all.
"It should be noted that Jaguars have been made of aluminum for the better part of a century" Utter rubbish.
A quick overview: In 1948 the Jaguar XK120 began as a wood-frame (ash) and aluminum body car. In 1963 Jaguar built 12 special E series cars ( I think they were called XKE lightweights) from primarily aluminum. The 1988 XJ220 was done in basically all aluminum. The chassis of the XJ220 was done in partnership with the aluminum producer Alcan using aluminum. This was a big deal in the development of aluminum cars since bringing in the material supplier as a development partner is always a critical step forward towards higher volume car production. This car was a low volume supercar built annually until about the mid '90s and about 300 were made. It is here that the Ford/Jaguar aluminum R&D overlap occurs. Ford acquired Jaguar in 1989 and sold it in 2008. During this period the development of aluminum production cars by Jaguar was studied in earnest. The current Jaguars that use mostly aluminum took well over a decade of development. That intellectual property, and many of the actual people are employed by Ford now. According to Pete Reyes the Jaguar/Land Rover folks already knew the most important things needed for the F-150 to become a reality. The F-150 in aluminum started in 2008 and won't be sold until nearly 2015, a 7 year development process for one model update - although a hugely important one.
I recently watched a HAIL storm with my truck in the drive way. The hail beat the HAIL out of my truck. Mr. Pete Reyes needs to get his facts correct. The steel vehicles parked beside my F150 2015 ( with the aluminum body) were equally damaged. The sales guy said hail would NOT damage the truck....guess they need to send one of the non-damaged to replace my extreme damaged truck. What has happened to integrity???
Had a hail storm this morning an had my 2015 F150 parked next to 2 other fords an 2 Chevy trucks. The hail was quarter size an my hood has 15-20 good size dents while the other 4 trucks had only 2-3 very small dents! Not very happy with the very thin material used to the point of lowering my deductible to replace future hood replacements!
850 miles, 3 days old - hit with a nickel size hail storm. Over 400 dents on the truck. Admittedly, the other 3 vehicles we own did receive some damage, but nothing like the aluminum body f-150. "Chief Engineer" - should have asked the janitor.
My truck got hit on every body panel(7500 miles on a 2015 f150). How much did insurance offer you to fix and what was damaged??
My 6 month old Aluminum 2015 F150 took a real beating in recent August nickel sized hail storm in Calgary got peppered with 200 - 300 dents in all but one panel even on the A pillars. IMHO the aluminum body is way less resistant to hail added to this I understand the repair will be in the tens of thousands to replace body skin panels.
Total BS Mr Goreman! Why (and HOW???) did you conclude this from the conversation. "...we made sure the new truck was tougher" in NO way equates to "...not at risk from hail damage." You should be ashamed, but I don't believe there is any shame left in this country.
Thanks for reading Robert. As the title and secondary title say, we put the question to the design chief directly and he answered the question.
I have a friend who owns a 2016 F-150 and he got hail damage on his hood and the top of the cab. I'm not so sure aluminum is stronger. We live in Indiana and I'm eager to see how it holds up to salt.
I have to say the engineer doesn't know what he is talking about. We had a hail storm here in Great Falls, MT this morning and yes, I have damage from the hail and my wife's steel car sitting right next to it does not. Ford may want to rethink their claim... Just bought the new F150 two months ago...
Just had a hail storm in Lufkin TX. My 2016 F150 was parked on a lot with numerous other vehicles of all ages and types. Two GMC pickups parked only spaces away had little to no damage. Guess which one had the MOST hail damage. Yep, my 2016 Ford F150. The "miiltary grade aluminum" didn't hold up as well as the old steel bodies. Thanks Ford for the line of crap about the aluminum bodies not being susceptible to hail damage!
Despite the fact that this article is about hail, you should know that after having my 2017 F150 for one day, I opened the driver for full force into a steel bollard. Not a dent. Not even a scratch!
the info on hail damage is a lie. We had a hail storm and just slightly bigger than marble size gave me several dings.
Big hail storm in Denver yesterday and my 2015 Ford F-150 has about 75 hail dents on all parts of the truck except the tail gate. The Ford claim is really sad!