aluminum pickup truck body repair
Aluminum Shop

Complete aluminum repair resources from 3M

Clean, Confident Aluminum Car 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 car 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.

  • icon of two documents
    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.

  • icon of worker in hardhat
    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

  • applying filler to aluminum panel
    Aluminum Large Damage Repair

    3M SOPs for Aluminum Large Damage Repair provide the steps for prepping, filling, sanding and inspecting aluminum panel repairs where the original paint layer has been broken and the damage includes significant denting.

    English Download: Large Damage Repair (PDF, 228 KB)

  • sanding area to level the surface where filler was applied
    Aluminum Small Damage Repair

    Small damage repair of aluminum involves a more streamlined process vs. large repairs, but no less care to avoid substrate cross-contamination. SOPs are available in English and Spanish for both aluminum and traditional materials.

    English Download: Small Damage Repair (PDF, 212 KB)

  • hand sanding small repair area
    Aluminum Express Damage Repair

    Express aluminum dent repairs, or removing minor dents and dings from aluminum panels where paint hasn’t been compromised, are increasingly common in the body shop. These 3M SOPs detail the procedure for repairing small aluminum damage areas.

    English Download: Express Damage Repair(PDF, 176 KB)

  • file belt sandergrinding off crimp on door skin
    Aluminum Door Skin Removal

    Removing aluminum door panels requires extra care to avoid damage and rework. These 3M SOPs show proper tools and procedures for the removal of the aluminum door skin and efficient hem flange grinding and spot weld removal.

    English Download: Door Skin Removal (PDF, 207 KB)

  • bonding door skin to frame with adhesive
    Aluminum Door Skin Full Replacement

    These complete 3M resources detail the procedures for replacing aluminum door skins, from door frame prep to final seam sealing. SOPs include recommended 3M products such as abrasives, panel bonding adhesives and seam sealers.

    English Download: Door Skin Full Replacement (PDF, 286 KB)

  • applying adhesive to metal and plastic joint
    Aluminum Panel Bonding

    OEMs increasingly use aluminum panels in vehicle construction, and often require panel bonding adhesives in body repair. 3M SOPs for Aluminum Panel Bonding provide important surface preparation, application and panel installation best practices.

    English Download: Panel Bonding (PDF, 223 KB)

  • protecting a glass and metal area from sparks
    Aluminum Welding Spark Protection

    Using welding and spark protection is a best practice for protecting adjacent repair areas during aluminum repair. These SOPs show the proper use of welding and spark protection paper and welding drapes.

    English Download: Welding Spark Protection (PDF, 166 KB)

  • file belt grinding aluminum body parts
    Aluminum Metal Working

    These important SOPs show the procedures for effectively removing creases and dents without further damaging aluminum panels. They include necessary surface preparation and precautions against stretching, cracking and thinning of aluminum.

    English Download: Metal Working (PDF, 219 KB)

  • file belt preparing surfaces for part replacement
    Aluminum Part Replacement

    Review documents and video for replacing aluminum panels, including the removal of sealers, coatings, rivets and spot welds, as well as panel separation. SOPs also cover procedures for aluminum surface preparation and panel installation.

    English Download: Aluminum Part Replacement (PDF, 218 KB)

Repairing Heavy Duty Trucks in the Aluminum Shop

  • scotchbrite clean n strip disc removing seam sealer and coatings
    Heavy Duty Truck Aluminum Panel Removal

    Aluminum panel removal requires some simple yet important procedures for heavy duty trucks. View the procedures for proper tools, cleaning, sealer removal, rivet removal and panel separation for these large aluminum panels.

    English Download: Aluminum Panel Removal (PDF, 1.4 MB)

  • surface is prepared for fiberglass repair adhesive
    Heavy Duty Truck Aluminum Panel Installation: Adhesive

    These SOPs provide proper ways to install aluminum panels on heavy duty trucks using 3M™ SMC/Fiberglass Repair Adhesive. You’ll find valuable information on cleaning, alignment, adhesive application and panel installation. 

    English Download: Aluminum Panel Installation Adhesive (PDF, 1.4 MB)

  • sanding a damaged area to prepare for filler
    Heavy Duty Truck Aluminum Dent Repair

    Here are the procedures for repairing dents in large aluminum panels. Standard procedures for sanding, filling and glaze are provided as well as methods for masking, straightening and product application specific to aluminum.

    English Download: Aluminum Dent Repair (PDF, 1.4 MB)

Seam Sealers and Coatings for Aluminum Repairs

  • protecting unprimed metal with brush on sealer
    Aluminum Seam Sealer: Direct to Metal

    These clear, easy-to-follow SOPS for aluminum repairs include surface preparation, application and tooling of seam sealers applied direct to metal (DTM) to recreate OEM appearance and function. Recommended 3M products are also included.

    English Download: Seam Sealer Direct to Metal (PDF, 200 KB)

  • applying corrosion protection inside panels
    Aluminum Corrosion Protection: Cavity Wax

    Cavity wax application is strongly recommended following any aluminum repair. 3M SOPs provide simple procedures for resealing aluminum surfaces and joints, helping ensure corrosion protection.

    English Download: Corrosion Protection Cavity Wax (PDF, 168 KB)

  • restoring undercoating with accuspray gun and pressure cup
    Aluminum Corrosion Protection: Undercoating

    Here are 3M SOPs to maximize corrosion protection when applying undercoats to aluminum substrates. They include recommended 3M products as well as best practices for aluminum surface preparation and the application of coatings.

    English Download: Corrosion Protection Undercoating (PDF, 260 KB)

  • applying antichip coating with accuspray gun and pressure cup
    Aluminum Anti-Chip Coating

    Anti-chip coating is vital for preventing damage caused by stones and other road debris to painted aluminum surfaces. These SOPs cover the best practices for every step from contaminant and OEM coating removal to final blend sanding.

    English Download: Anti-Chip Coating (PDF, 251 KB)

  • brushing sealer to primed metal
    Aluminum Seam Sealer: Non-Direct to Metal

    Review SOPs for proper aluminum surface preparation and sealer application for non-direct to metal collision repair jobs. This process applies for urethane or two-part epoxy seam sealers during aluminum auto body repair.

    English Download: Seam Sealer No Direct to Metal (PDF, 214 KB)

  • repairing sound deadening material on vehicle
    Aluminum LASD Replacement On Body

    3M SOPs provide the procedures for replacing Liquid Applied Sound Deadening (LASD) and Noise/Vibration/Harshness (NVH) material into aluminum panels without the need for creating replicas separately from the vehicle body. Includes recommended 3M products.

    English Download: LASD Replacement on Body (PDF, 248 KB)

  • sound deadening repair patch being built on bench
    Aluminum LASD Replacement Off Body

    View SOPs on procedures for replacing Liquid Applied Sound Deadening (LASD) and NVH material by recreating parts separately from the vehicle body for installation into aluminum vehicle panels. Includes recommended 3M products.

    English Download: LASD Replacement Off Body (PDF, 207 KB)

Aluminum Repair in the Paint Shop

  • hand sanding repair area with sanding block
    Aluminum Feather-Prime-Block

    Review the SOPs for a key part of aluminum paint preparation. Included are procedures for sanding and primer application to aluminum panels. They also include recommended products and abrasive grits for each step of the process.  

    English Download: Feather Prime Block (PDF, 291 KB)

  • sanding repair primed with waterborne
    Aluminum Feather-Prime-Block for Waterborne Primer

    These SOPs present the specific procedures for applying waterborne primer to aluminum panels. They include the extra DA sanding steps vs. non-waterborne primer as well as recommended abrasive grits at each step.

    English Download: Feather Prime Block Waterborne (PDF, 190 KB)

  • hand sanding edges of repair area
    Aluminum Blend Panel Sanding Process

    These SOPs contain the steps, tools and abrasive grits recommended to clean and sand aluminum repair areas and adjacent aluminum panels. Note: it is important to separate tools and abrasives to prevent cross-contamination.

    English Download: Blend Panel Sanding Process (PDF, 203 KB)

  • sanding e-coat panelw ith festool sander
    Aluminum E-Coat Panel Prep

    Here are the tools, techniques and abrasive grits for proper surface preparation to hard e-coated aluminum panels. These SOPs include steps for hand sanding and machine sanding as well as application of seal and topcoats.

    English Download: E-Coat Panel Prep (PDF, 220 KB)

Paint Application for Aluminum Repairs

  • priming aluminum vehicle parts wirth paint preparation system
    3M™ PPS™ for Aluminum Repair

    Here is everything you need to use our 3M™ PPS™ paint preparation system for applying paint to aluminum smoothly and efficiently. Included are the components necessary for spot, 1-panel, 2-panel and 3-panel aluminum paint repairs.

    English Download: Aluminum PPS (PDF, 537 KB)

Glass Shop Aluminum Repairs

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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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!