Ford Approves Only OEM Parts on Structural Repairs—Here’s Why That’s Important

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Structural components offer additional protection in the event of a collision and require the right parts to work properly.

It is common practice in our industry for each vehicle manufacturer to provide “Position Statements” that explain the best methods for repairing their makes and models. 

In the event of structural repairs, Ford has released a Position Statement recommending that only Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts be used on their vehicles:

“Ford Motor Company only approves repairs to structural components – (including frames, rails, aprons and body panels) – that are completed using Ford published repair procedures and Ford Original Equipment Parts. Failure to follow these instructions will adversely affect structural integrity and crash safety performance, which could result in serious personal injury to vehicle occupants in a crash.”

Ford is explaining clearly and directly that your safety might be in jeopardy if you choose to use any replacement structural parts on your vehicle besides Ford OEM parts.


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How are structural parts different from any other parts?

Structural parts include floor elements, body panels, frame rails, and more that basically hold your vehicle together. 

It’s especially important to preserve the integrity of your structural components, as they are the sections of your car that can help minimize damage in the event of a collision.  These parts are designed with crush zones that are intended to absorb the energy in a collision, giving you and your passengers additional protection. 


Here’s the problem with non-OEM structural parts.

There are plenty of aftermarket, recycled, and salvage structural parts available, but none of them will ever be as reliable or as structurally sound as new OEM parts.  

Aftermarket parts are developed to fit a range of makes and models, so they may not fit the exact specifications for placement on a Ford.  That means a technician would have to bend, heat, and employ other creative methods to get the part to fit properly.  

Recycled and salvage parts might seem like a good idea, but keep in mind that it’s nearly impossible to determine the quality of their condition by the time they arrive to you.  They might be from a car that was already involved in a collision or experienced extreme weather fluctuations or simply survived general wear and tear. 

Even upon close inspection, it’s often impossible to see all the microscopic damage a salvage part might have endured. 

Even very minor discrepancies in material or shape can cause a structural part to become less effective and, therefore, less safe to use on your vehicle.


It’s dangerous to use anything besides OEM parts in your repair.

The engineers at Ford have carefully designed their structural parts to work together seamlessly.  According to Ford: 

“The structural component repair procedures and repair-specific parts approved by Ford have been validated through testing by Ford engineers to return repaired vehicles to the intended level of form, function, performance and safety as our engineers originally specified.  Alternative structural component repair procedures and/or parts approved by others, are not approved by Ford. Should alternative structural component repair procedures and/or parts be used, repairers should be aware of the potential liability they incur.”

They are saying that disrupting even one structural element could throw the whole system off, leading to major problems down the road, including poor vehicle performance and less protection in a collision.

There’s no sense in taking chances with your safety. 

OEM parts are higher quality than aftermarket parts.  OEM parts have also never been used, never been exposed to the elements, never been rendered defective by improper disassembly like recycled or salvage parts. 

New structural parts are made to function optimally on your vehicle, increasing your car’s performance and your personal safety.


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While other shops might disregard Ford’s recommendations, we respect this information because we care about the quality of your repair.

If you’re in a collision and need to take your Ford to a shop for repairs, it only makes sense that you would want the job to be done as safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible.  At our shop, one of the ways we can ensure the best possible repair for our customers is by adhering to the recommendations of each vehicle’s manufacturer.  

It might be surprising to you, but collision repair shops are not required to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  There’s no one actually enforcing these Position Statements, so manufacturers are putting their trust in us to do as they recommend.  

At our shop, we genuinely care about every repair we do.  Because of this, we make sure to follow Ford’s recommendation of using new replacement structural parts, instead of taking chances with aftermarket and salvage components. 

It is our mission to do what’s best for your vehicle’s performance and for your safety.

Why You Should Care That Ford Rejects Wheel Reconditioning in Collision Repair

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Wheel reconditioning is a very dangerous practice.

Ford is very clear that the company does not approve of any wheel repair that involves reconditioning. 

If you are not familiar with wheel reconditioning, it is a process of using various tools and methods to try to repair a damaged wheel, instead of replacing it entirely.  Some methods include welding, reforming, or reshaping the wheel.  

When it comes to steel and aluminum wheel repair, Ford has issued a Position Statement explaining why they do not accept wheel reconditioning in any vehicle repairs.  Here’s what they say:

“Ford Motor Company does not approve the remanufacturing/refinishing of steel or aluminum wheels when it involves re-machining, re-plating, welding, bending, straightening, reforming or adding new material other than cosmetic coatings, as this can compromise the structural integrity of the wheel and safety of the vehicle.  A reconditioned wheel, or any wheel not approved by Ford Motor Company, may cause unsafe vehicle operation and performance, including loss of control which may result in injuries to the vehicle occupants or other drivers.”

Ford is saying, in no uncertain terms, that it’s simply not worth the risk to your life to take chances with the state of your wheels. 

In its position statement, the company provides an extensive list of types of wheel damage to inspect for and these include cracks, corrosion, gouges, and other issues that are beyond superficial marks.  If the wheels are damaged enough to warrant reconditioning, then they should just be replaced outright. 

Heating, welding, reshaping, and any other methods of reconditioning could compromise the structural integrity of your wheels.  

Being the only parts of the car to actually make contact with the road, your wheels are essential to your safety and are worth investing in.  


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What wheel repairs are approved by Ford?

While wheel reconditioning is not approved of by Ford, certain wheel repairs are permitted:

“Ford Motor Company approves refinishing of steel or aluminum wheels only if all necessary repairs/reconditioning can be completed by cosmetic sanding or polishing that removes no metal and, instead, removes only the finish.”

Basically, only superficial cosmetic adjustments are allowed, since they won’t jeopardize the integrity of the wheel structure.  Minor sanding and polishing repairs do not involve the use of heat or reshaping that reconditioning would entail.  


Don’t risk voiding your warranty.

Another major reason to avoiding wheel reconditioning is that it can void your warranty:

“Ford Motor Company does not warrant any remanufactured/refinished wheels.”

The practice of wheel reconditioning is so problematic that Ford won’t even warrant wheels that have been repaired with this method.  Not only is wheel reconditioning dangerous to your vehicle and yourself—it’s dangerous to your wallet, as well.


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Not all shops follow these recommendations, but we do.

It’s disappointing, but some shops throw caution out the window and continue to practice wheel reconditioning, despite Ford’s clear instructions to avoid it at all costs.  They can get away with this because no body shop is actually forced to adhere to a manufacturer’s Position Statement.  

At our shop, we strongly believe that there’s no reason to take a chance with your Ford’s repair by going against the advice of the manufacturer. 

Reconditioned wheels can lead to very dangerous problems down the road.  We will always replace your Ford’s wheels entirely if they’ve sustained damage.  You won’t have to worry about voiding your warranty or driving on unstable wheels when you bring your vehicle to us. 

We always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation to deliver the best possible repair to our customers. 

Why Ford Says You Cannot Use Aftermarket Windshields, And Why You Should Care

Ford Mustang Crashed


If you own a Ford and your repair involves installing a new windshield, you only have one approved option- use an OEM Ford windshield, and here is why.

Ford and just about every other manufacturer put out “OEM Position Statements” to instruct repair shops on how their engineers want their cars repaired. This is based on many factors, including the construction of the vehicle, the specific requirements that each type of steel or aluminum needs and also factors that affect their safety and electronics systems.


Why this matters to you, the Ford owner


The problem is, as a consumer, You probably don’t know this, and it is easy to get steered in the wrong direction by a repair shop looking to cut corners and costs on repairs. But it could cost you.


Ford recently advised repair shops to use OEM windshield and side glass, warning that aftermarket glass could affect vehicle safety first of all, and it could compromise the built-in comfort technology by introducing wind noise, rattles, or leaks in the cabin. This is why you need to be sure that your repair shop is using OEM windshields in your repair.


From Ford:

“Ford Motor Company vehicles contain many state-of-the-art features that provide occupant safety and enhance the driving experience. Windshield and side glass play an integral role in the performance and functionality of these features.”

“During repairs that involve glass removal and replacement, it is critical that the vehicle is restored to proper operating condition.”


How aftermarket windshields affect the structural integrity of your Ford


Ford points out that the original glass used in manufacturing the car is designed for the maximum function, general safety, and structural integrity of your vehicle – the windshield is effectively part of the car’s frame. So the use of an aftermarket windshield could alter or even lessen the structural integrity of the vehicle.

According to Ford, “The quality, performance and safety of aftermarket replacement windshield and side glass may not meet Ford Motor Company’s exacting specifications and can result in key safety features not functioning properly and reduced customer satisfaction in the performance of their vehicle.” Safety problems will definitely result in reduced customer satisfaction with the car.


Ford Mustang Structure

The automaker also told collision repairers that you cannot reuse windshields in certain circumstances. “HUD windshields, windshield glass equipped with a camera bracket and windshield glass equipped with adhesive moldings must be replaced anytime the original glass is removed from the vehicle.”


How aftermarket glass affects your ADAS systems


The major and most critical concerns raised in the Ford position statement involve structural integrity and advanced driver assistance systems because using an aftermarket windshield might affect the performance of the camera mounted to it.

The camera needs to be precisely attached to the windshield. Ford certified windshields have camera brackets so the camera can be aimed properly. Cameras are designed with optical quality compatible with the camera.

Aftermarket windshields will not duplicate the precise location of the camera attachment brackets. They often will distort the image viewed by the camera. This hurts camera operations and hurts the proper operations of the ADAS system parts.

Why you need ADAS calibrations after a replacement


FORD ADAS recalibration


“Calibrations associated with windshield replacements must be completed in order for the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems to function correctly.” Some Ford vehicles are factory equipped with a “Heads Up Display,” and if your Ford is equipped with one, aftermarket glass might throw off the HUD. Certified replacement parts will provide the customer with the safest and most convenient operation of their car.

How aftermarket glass affects your financially

If your vehicle is still under factory warranty and one of your safety systems malfunctions due to OEM glass, you may be shocked to find that your warranty is voided with the use of aftermarket windshields. What might have been a repair covered under your factory warranty, you may have to pay out of pocket for the repair (and, possibly, a new OEM windshield) to fix the ADAS component.

Why You Should Care What Ford Says About The Tools Used On Aluminum Vehicles

Ford Focus ST

Does it matter to you what tools your body shop uses to fix your Ford vehicle? If it’s an aluminum one (and most Fords now at least have some aluminum) Then Ford Says yes it matters. It can make a difference with your vehicle’s safety long term and the longevity of your repair in the short term.


This is why we are taking the time to bring it to your attention, here.


Steel used the be the only thing besides fiberglass that cars were made from. But our ability to form aluminum into strong car bodies has come a long way, and the fuel savings from switching from steel to aluminum are significant. 


Why aluminum repairs are different than steel repairs


Aluminum is a bit more fickle to repair than steel. Aluminum can be welded, but heat makes it brittle, and so does hammering on it. It can crack and break if it’s repaired the wrong way.

So, in an auto body repair, many times, it has to be riveted.


During the manufacturing of your vehicle, Ford uses many ways to rivet materials together, and a common one is known as a blind or self-piercing rivet. Basically, it’s a rivet that creates its own hole as it is shot through the material, and then the rivet mushrooms out, creating the bond. Think of it much like two materials being held together like with a bolt or a screw.


There is also a tool that is an inexpensive way to join materials, called a flowdrill, it is fast and drills holes while melting the metal to form what looks like a rivet. Ford uses those methods as well to build the vehicle.


When repairing an aluminum vehicle, if you were trying to do it fast, and cut corners, you might be tempted just to send a new rivet where the old one was or rivet through a flow drill hole. None of this is an approved method.


Ford’s position statement on aluminum repairs


Ford released a position statement advising collision repairers to use ONLY OEM-authorized rivets, mandrels, and rivet guns when working on aluminum structural and cosmetic components. The document also prohibits reusing flow-drill screws.


“All Ford Motor Company vehicles that incorporate aluminum structural and cosmetic body components require the use of OEM Structural repair rivets and the use of approved installation tools when performing body repairs.”


“The use of aftermarket structural rivets, including Self-Piercing, Blind and Solid rivets, is not authorized by Ford.” 


“Ford Motor Company considers the use of OEM structural rivets critical to the safety, reliability, and durability of the repaired vehicle.”


Basically, what Ford is saying is that you can only use a Ford approved rivet and riveting equipment in order to guarantee a Ford quality repair. Anything less and you run the risk of a faulty or unsafe repair.


“Flow Drill Screws (FDS) are used in several locations during the original manufacture of Ford vehicles,” Ford wrote. “Flow Drill Screws cannot be reused and must be replaced with the rivet that is called out in the Ford repair procedures.” 


Ford also is particular about attaching the right mandrel to the right rivet for the right part of the repair. 


The SPR installation mandrel determines the proper depth and spread of the SPR rivet. 

“Following the Ford repair procedures is essential in ensuring that the rivet is driven to the correct depth to achieve a safe quality joint.”

Ford Mustang Structure

Ford’s take on approved equipment


According to the OEM, only 11 self-piercing rivet guns have been authorized for Ford’s vehicles as of the June 1 position statement.


“Proper installation of SPR rivets requires installation tools that can perform correct and repeatable SPR rivet installations. These SPR installation tools are the only tools approved to be used in the repair of Ford vehicles.”


It is important to note that not all body shops carry ford OEM approved tools. But simply ask your Customer Service Representative or your Estimator if the shop you are considering has all the required OEM tooling for your Ford repair.


Why the repaired area may look different


Finally, Ford makes it known that the repaired area may look different than it did before the accident. It used to be the case that a body shop repair was indistinguishable. If a part was removed and a new one welded back in, it was on the shop to make it look like it never happened. Ford points out that while subtle, it is ok for the repaired are to look different than the factory part. 


“During repairs to Ford vehicles that incorporate aluminum structural and cosmetic body components, blind rivets or aluminum plug welds may be required in locations that originally used SPR rivets,” Ford wrote. “This may result in repairs that have a different appearance from the original finish or from undamaged areas of the vehicle. This is considered normal and common across OEMs in the collision repair industry.


It is important to utilize and follow the Ford repair procedures to determine what fastening methods must be used during the repair process.”


So then, what does all this mean to you?


The most important take away is that if you have an Aluminum Ford (like an F150, for example), the way your shop has to fix it is very specific. If your shop is incapable or unwilling to follow the specific guidelines set by Ford for Aluminum repairs, then you may want to consider choosing a different shop. Just be sure to ask a few questions before making your final choice.



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