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2016 Honda Pilot only 34.5% mild steel, has very specific repair dos and don’ts
The next-generation 2016 Honda Pilot SUV officially announced Wednesday should be a whole new ballgame for repairers, with huge swaths of the popular SUV’s body made out of ultra-high-strength and advanced-high-strength steels for a nearly 300-pound-lighter curb weight.
The Pilot’s body only contains 34.5 percent mild steel of 270 megapascals, and more than half of the full-size SUV is advanced-high-strength (590 MPa) or tougher steel twice to five times as strong.
That breaks down into 32.1 percent 590 MPa and 21.3 percent 980-1,500 MPa ultra-high-strength steel for the car that sold more than 100,000 last year. (Honda didn’t even bother with the 780 MPa “low” end of the ultra-high-strength steel range.)
For comparison, there was only an average of about 13.8 percent steel above about 170 MPa in an entire vehicle in 2007, according to Ducker Worldwide data.
The entire front door ring is made of 1,500 MPa steel, and the door reinforcement beams are 1,300 MPa, according to Nucci. 980 MPa steel extends from it down the A-pillar and along the roof rails and sills.
Oh, and by the way, the hood and bumper beam are aluminum and the instrument panel is magnesium.
But setting all that interesting engineering and metallurgy aside, here’s the real takeaway from the 2016 Pilot and which Honda stresses in a collision repair bulletin provided this month by I-CAR:
Do not repair this SUV the way you might have repaired past generations, and check with Honda about how to do it appropriately.
Honda did throw repairers one bone: Honda spokeswoman Angie Nucci said panels and closures were kept mild steel for repairability.
“For areas that are typically subject to high repair (fenders, front bumper, door skins, etc), we still use mild strength steel,” she wrote in an email. “One reason is that the mild steel is much more ductile and easier to form or stamp during the production process. If there is a dent, for example, in the front door, it is much easier to fix or ‘pull out’ the dent with 270 MPa vs. 1500 MPa.”
“The ultra-high-strength steel, by nature, is extremely difficult to bend, kink and deform. For this very reason, we use it in areas required to absorb high energy or in other words, in our crash deformation areas.”
But as for the higher-strength steels — be prepared and make sure you know what you’re doing and have the right equipment.
“Parts made of (1,500 MPa) must be installed as a complete part,” the bulletin cautions. “No sectioning allowed. Ultra High-Strength Steel requires special welding equipment, procedures, and settings. See the welding section of the appropriate body repair manual. Failure to use the proper equipment or follow the proper procedures can result in an unsafe repair.”
Most of that instruction also applies to the 590-980 MPa steel, too.
In terms of welding, be sure you’re ready to weld and how you should be doing it. Honda is very specific — and cautionary. For example:
“Never do MAG welding on 1,500 MPa steel,”Honda states, for example, bolding the “never.”
“The heat generated during MAG welding will significantly reduce the strength and structural integrity of 1,500 MPa steel parts.”
The MIG welder must be pulsed, too. Other restrictions apply on how to MAG- and MIG-weld the 590-980 MPa steels.
As for straightening: No heat.
“Do not apply heat to any body part during straightening,” Honda writes. “This may compromise the internal structure and strength of high-strength steel parts. …
“Any part that has heat applied to it during straightening must be replaced with new parts.”
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Allstate announced Tuesday it had provided automated hail estimating to victims of a recent Colorado hailstorm, the first of the nation’s Big 4 insurers to offer the new technology on the ground.
Nationwide, the country’s No. 8 private passenger auto insurer in 2014 with 3.85 percent of the market, had announced in April a similar trailer-size structure was available. (It’s unclear if Allstate or Nationwide was first to roll the device out on the ground in the past.) But Allstate’s size — about 2.5 times larger with $3.53 billion in premiums earned, according to NAIC — should give both collision and painless dent repairers as well as fellow insurers even greater reason to take notice.
“Allstate is on the frontline in using this latest technology. The Mobile Assessment Center is going to elevate the way we take care of customers following a disaster,” Allstate claims Senior Vice President Mark McGillivray said in a statement. “The Mobile Assessment Center allows for an almost touchless process for evaluating damages, settling claims, and getting customers back on the road as quickly as possible.”
Like Nationwide’s unit, Allstate’s Mobile Assessment Center can scan a battered car with a series of digital cameras in a few minutes and estimate dent severity and volume for an adjustor, according to spokeswoman April Eaton. Neither system removes a pair of on-site human eyes or relies purely on the computer’s opinion to calculate comprehensive damage, according to Eaton and a Nationwide executive.
“We believe that the Mobile Assessment Center, with its state-of-the-art technology, will provide us with a more efficient way to capture and review damages to vehicles with hail damage, which will greatly enhance Allstate’s ability to service customers,” Eaton wrote in an email Wednesday.
Allstate only has a single hail estimating center, compared to the two in Nationwide’s catastrophe response fleet, though the company will evaluate if it wants to add more, according to Eaton. Catastrophe Solutions International produces the devices
“In the two days we’ve been in Parker, Colo., we’ve received positive feedback from customers about their experience,” she wrote. The technology also was used last year in South Carolina, and Allstate said estimates made then were more accurate.
Like Nationwide’s, the new Allstate technology wouldn’t shut the door on customers or repairers arguing about the extent of the damage or whether a dent or ding happened during a storm yesterday or because of something a year ago that went unreported, according to Eaton.
“Our commitment is always to settle claims fairly,” Eaton wrote. “Just like with any other claim, if there is a disparity with an estimate, a customer can contact their adjuster and go through the supplemental process.”
Eaton, who was trying to track down staffers Wednesday afternoon to answer our questions, didn’t provide an answer on if the company sees the technology as something that could advance in the future to evaluate collision damage. That type of technology is already creeping onto the collision repair radar with devices like the Matrix Wand and patents like this 2014 filing by Andre Balzer.
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