Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS) While these steel types are relatively new, several automobile manufacturers have begun using up to 40% of AHSS in new vehicles. A primary challenge facing the collision repair industry is to identify correct repair policies and procedures for AHSS comp
In today’s heavily regulated and highly competitive marketplace,
automobile manufacturers share many common concerns: greater
vehicle safety, improved fuel economy and lower
manufacturing costs, among others. One approach to help
resolve these issues has been to develop structural
materials that are lightweight, while still offering
strength and flexibility.
Applying innovative materials
Among recent technological advances, Advanced High Strength
Steels or AHSS have quickly been adopted by the automobile
industry. These steels are known for their increased
strength, lightweight composition, improved performance under
impact and energy transfer when exposed to a collision.
There are two primary types of AHSS, “Dual Phase” (DP) and
“Transformation Induced Plasticity” (TRIP). Although the two
steel types differ in the material composition, each
features increased tensile strength and formability than in
traditional steel products.
There are several other variations of AHSS in use today, and they
all rely on the same principles. Each manufacturer
determines which formulation is used, based on
specific engineering requirements.
What does AHSS mean to the collision industry?
While these steel types are relatively new, several automobile
manufacturers have begun using up to 40% of AHSS in new
vehicles. A primary challenge facing the collision
repair industry is to identify correct repair policies and
procedures for AHSS components:
Can it be straightened?
Can it be heated and reformed?
Can it be sectioned?
Is special welding equipment or procedures necessary for
Some AHSS reinforced panels are not repairable at all and must be
replaced. To maintain efficiency and profitability, these
components should be identified up front. Failure to follow
accurate repair procedures may result in unnecessary comebacks
and a new area of liability concern.
Another issue is how well informed insurance adjusters are in
AHSS repair procedures. New materials could significantly
impact the estimating process.
In some instances, you may be required to partially disassemble
the vehicle to determine an accurate estimate. Who pays for
the labor invested if the insurance company subsequently
totals the car? Who is liable if the insurance company instructs
you to perform repairs you know to be improper?
Information is key
In some cases, traditional repair practices may not be applicable
to vehicles with AHSS. Technicians require factory-correct
information, and may require special training to effectively
work with the materials.
There is only one remedy for dealing with any new technology –
accurate information. Conventional repair methods may leave
the vehicle vulnerable to catastrophic damage if it is
involved in an accident after leaving the repair facility.
Improper repairs can alter the crush zone and expose
passengers to increased risk. This scenario also places the
repair shop in jeopardy unless repairs meet manufacturers’
The importance of having access to factory specs and techniques
is paramount when repairing vehicles utilizing structural
components of AHSS. Many manufacturers offer specific repair
information, but tracking down this information can be difficult.
Thirdparty information sources offer a single source for vehicles
of all makes and models.
One thing is certain, collision technicians must become
proficient in working with AHSS and other new
materials, as their prevalence in vehicles increases. The need
for this knowledge is immediate! A shop’s profitability and
reputation rely on staying current with innovative
technologies. And those innovations are coming at an