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Tackling truck damage with the latest OEM repair procedures

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 08:00
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Critics have long called America a "car-crazy culture"-an observation that sometimes has been stretched to imply that motorists favor style and form over substance and function. A closer look dismisses that claim since at the heart of this culture is a devotion to rock-solid reliability and go anywhere anytime convenience--the truck.

In this country, the truck is king. In 2016 alone, trucks outsold cars by nearly 3 million units, according to Wall Street Journal statistics. For 35 straight years, the Ford F-150 has remained the top selling vehicle by far in the U.S. This past year, it was trailed closely by two other trucks, the Chevy Silverado and Dodge Ram. Overall U.S. truck sales (including SUVs) amount to over 9 million annually. When Detroit and import manufacturers aren't designing their next generation of trucks, they're engineering truck-inspired styling cues in other vehicles like compacts or outright truck hybrids such as crossover vehicles.

(Photo courtesy of Ford) Even with benefits like superior visibility, traction and road clearance, trucks are put to the test during winter months, which makes them prime repair candidates.

Throw into this mix the practice of many snow belt residents to opt for trucks as a second vehicle that can be put to full-time use during harsh weather driving months when the family car is moved to the garage in favor of a vehicle with benefits ranging from 4WD to better ground clearance and a higher, clearer view of the road.

Many of you are seeing all the facets of truck popularity at play right now as sometimes-overconfident drivers put their winter driving skills to the test against the elements and come up short. This brings an up tic of trucks to your business with a whole host of damaged fenders, frames and other body parts.

Here's a look at some of the more common repaired on late model trucks using the most up to date OEM procedures.

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Box business

Since bumpers are regular casualties in collisions, OEMs have worked overtime to produce versions that can be easily removed and installed. This doesn’t always mean there will be some challenges during a replacement operation. GM, for example, offers “plug and play” bumper assembly kits designed to quickly plug into the electrical harness unit and bolt into place. There is, however, one more vital piece of this repair puzzle. The pick-up box must be lifted high enough—typically, at least 3 inches above the frame--to allow the new bumper brackets to clear the rear cross sill, which is set up level with and in front of the lower edge of the tailgate. Moreover, before the pick-up box can be lifted, shops must remove a number of other parts.  

Use these steps to remove the necessary parts from the box, raise it and install the replacement bumper assembly:

Step 1. Loosen the fuel tank filler pipe housing.
Step 2. Remove the pickup box end gate.
Step 3. Remove the tail lamps.
Step 4. Disconnect all electrical connectors and wire harnesses from the box.
Step 5. Locate and remove eight fasteners attaching the box to the frame.
Step 6. Tilt the rear of the box and install wedge blocks as necessary to temporarily support the structure. Note that you’ll need help from another tech or assistant for this step.

Step 7. With the box lifted, remove the damaged bumper and install the new bumper kit assembly. Note that you need only “snug” the bumper into place at this point.

Step 8. Lower the box, and align the bumper fully. Bolt the kit into place using the following specs:

  • Eight Pick-up box bolts: 63 lb ft.
  • Upper brace bumper bolts, quantity of two: 52 lb ft.
  • Lower brace bumper bolts, quantity of two: 30 lb ft.
(Photo courtesy of GM) Bumper assembly kits make these common repairs easier than ever. But don’t overlook critical steps, such as raising the truck box.
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