aluminum pickup truck body repair
Aluminum Shop

Complete aluminum repair resources from 3M

Clean, Confident Aluminum Body Repair

Good news: the same commonly accepted repair practices and products you use for steel – including 3M seam sealers, body fillers, undercoats and abrasives – generally work very well for aluminum auto body repair. That said, it’s important to follow some critical guidelines for repairing aluminum in the body shop. Our collection of standard operating procedures and knowledgeable technical tips for aluminum repair can help your operations thrive. 3M has gathered and developed a wealth of information on properly working with aluminum in your shop. You’ll find it all right here.

  • collision repair aluminum SOP icon

    Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Aluminum Repair

    These SOPs contain more than two decades of industry knowledge, gathered and developed by 3M to save you time and money on aluminum repair. You’ll find proper procedures at each key point in the aluminum panel repair process, including prep for paint and sealers. Aluminum SOPs are also provided for heavy duty trucks and glass removal and installation.

  • collision repair aluminum tech tips icon

    Technical Tips for Aluminum Repair

    Beyond the products and procedures, aluminum body repair can generate important questions about what’s different – and what’s the same – vs. repairing steel. These tips from our technical experts can help answer questions regarding the behavior of both metals, the need for additional products and equipment, aluminum corrosion protection and more.


  • Important Note
    There are of course many factors and variables that can affect an individual repair, so the technician and repair facility need to evaluate each specific application and repair process, including relevant vehicle, part and OEM guidelines, and determine what is appropriate for that repair.

Metal Shop for Aluminum Repairs


Repairing Heavy Duty Trucks in the Aluminum Shop


Seam Sealers and Coatings for Aluminum Repairs


Aluminum Repair in the Paint Shop


Paint Application for Aluminum Repairs


Glass Shop Aluminum Repairs


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Technical Tips for Aluminum Repair

3M provides technical resources to address any concern you have about working with aluminum in auto body repair. Here are some quick tips that can save you a lot of worry and hassle in the aluminum shop.

  • Corrosion Protection on Aluminum Surfaces
    • Customer Challenge: Since aluminum does not rust, why is corrosion protection still important?

      Technical Tip: Aluminum naturally forms a very thin layer of oxide on its surface. This layer (normally just a few hundredths of a millimeter thick) tends to impede the adhesion of coatings, such as seam sealers, fillers and primers, and can cause them to peel. Therefore it is very important to completely remove this layer of oxide before applying any auto repair coatings. Also, this oxide layer is self-healing, meaning it will quickly reform after it’s been removed. You should always apply coatings to abraded aluminum surfaces no more than one hour after the oxide has been removed. Otherwise, you must re-abrade the surface.


  • Avoiding Galvanic Corrosion
    • removing oxidation with fine grade sandpaper

      Customer Challenge: What is galvanic corrosion, and why should I be worried about it?

      Technical Tip: Galvanic corrosion occurs when two dissimilar substrates, such as aluminum and steel, come into contact. Each substrate has a natural electrical charge. The substrate with the higher electrical charge (aluminum) will always start “donating” electrons to the lower-activity substrate (steel) to achieve a natural balance. This results in the aluminum corroding and falling apart over time – leading to blistering and other paint failures in aluminum vehicle repair.

      You can help prevent galvanic corrosion by ensuring all substrates are properly cleaned before coatings are applied.


  • Aluminum Shop Hygiene
    • panel is cleaned to ensure proper adhesion of coatings

      Customer Challenge: Is it possible to create a true “clean room” for aluminum repair in the body shop?

      Technical Tip: Even if you completely segregate your steel and aluminum repairs, it’s unlikely that you can achieve total separation. It is vital to examine your overall shop hygiene. Establish regular cleaning protocols to maintain shop cleanliness, especially for dust – you should always assume that some dust particles will inevitably settle on dissimilar panels. Self-generated vacuum tools can also be used to keep the dust particles to a minimum while keeping equipment spends down. Never use the same tools or abrasives for both steel and aluminum repairs, and clean your tools regularly. Incorporate procedures for cleaning vehicle panels immediately before applying any coatings.


  • Stocking up for Aluminum
    • Customer Challenge: How many additional 3M products will I need for aluminum repairs in the shop?

      Technical Tip: You should not need to change your 3M product inventory to accommodate aluminum repair. With very few exceptions, all 3M materials that are used for steel repairs can be used for aluminum repairs, as long as they are used in accordance with directions for use, OEM guidelines and 3M standard operating procedures for aluminum substrates.

      One key difference is that OEMs will generally specify somewhat lighter abrasive grades for aluminum, but stocking completely different abrasives is not necessary.


Need Help Finding the Right Solution?

These 3M resources are meant to help you save time, save money and get the most out of your collision repair operations. If have additional questions about aluminum repair or anything related to 3M collision repair products and solutions, we’re happy to help. You can send us a message at the right. Or, if your needs are more immediate (or if you just want to talk shop), we’re ready to chat. We look forward to working with you!

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