Torque Shop

My car has aluminium front fenders. Recently, the right fender sustained a minor dent. Since the car is just two months old, I sent it to the dealer. To my surprise, I was told the fender had to be replaced. Why can't a panel beater repair it?

Aluminium has less than half the density of steel and is therefore popular among car companies looking to save weight on their vehicles.

Aluminium is also comparatively resistant to corrosion.

Although it is possible to repair dented aluminium panels, the methods and skill sets required are vastly different from those for the traditional steel panels.

A dented steel section can be easily hammered back to its original shape and contour using simple tools. More serious indentations can be mechanically pulled back into shape.

Sections of steel can also be cut out and replaced with new steel sheets if necessary.

But beating aluminium dents with a hammer can easily cause "stretching" of the metal, which cannot be rectified.

Even if there are minor dents which can be panel-beaten to original form, the work requires a highly trained craftsman specialising in aluminium sheet-metal repairs to achieve an acceptable result.

With increasing popularity of aluminium, it may be a matter of time before specialist aluminium repair shops emerge. Till then, there is no alternative but to replace damaged sections.

Shreejit Changaroth

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2019, with the headline 'Torque Shop'. Print Edition | Subscribe