New Auto Body Techniques
New technology, particularly the way cars' construction is evolving, means that auto repair shops need to update their techniques and equipment. A specific area of concern is the increased use of aluminum in car design. Aluminum body panels were once a privilege reserved mainly for high-end performance cars; but that's expected to change, and more manufacturers, such as Ford, are rumored to be designing all-new aluminum-bodied vehicles [source: Wernle]. That's mostly because the material is lightweight and strong, which helps cars meet federal fuel economy and safety regulations. But experienced technicians are accustomed to working on steel cars, and aluminum requires a totally new strategy. Banged-up aluminum body panels usually can't be reshaped like their steel counterparts can; the panel typically needs to be replaced, which requires aluminum-specific riveting tools and welding equipment. These changes might increase the cost of auto body repair, but there are some upsides. As cars get stronger and smarter, experts expect that they'll last longer, too. Also, new safety technology, like backup cameras and collision warning systems, means that crashes should become less frequent and less serious.