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Can NSX body damage be repaired or must aluminum be replaced?

27 July 2000
Alexandria, VA
Fellow NSXers, particularly those who have had body work done, I am pretty ignorant on the subject of malleability i.e. repairability of the NSX's aluminum body panels. My beautiful & formerly flawless Sebring Silver NSX suffered a fender bender this past weekend by a drunk who backed into the passenger's side front fender. It's a big dent w/ creases, chipped paint, etc. I definately will fight to have the entire panel replaced by the other guy's insurance co., but can someone explain to me why b/c of the fact that the panel is heat treated aluminum, it cannot be banged out like steel on any other car other than Audi A8. I also heard that the paint process is 27 stages. I want to have ammunition & know all the technicalities regarding body work in case I have to make my case to the claims adjuster for replacement rather than repair of the fender & a premium paint from a reputable place that is qualified to do aluminum body work. Or am I wrong, can the fender be banged out to like-original condition, I can pocket the difference b/w cost of replacement & use it for other mods? Lastly, in case of replacement, how long to order a fender, it's not the local Acura stocks these? Thanks for your advice.
Aluminum can be "worked" somewhat but it's a different material than steel and has different properties, including the fact that it is less malleable and will "tear" much more easily than steel. If you have deep creases in the metal it's simply easier and probably cheaper to replace the panel than to try and have someone repair it to your satisfaction.

The factory paint process is pretty involved, but it has nothing to do with aftermarket paint, which is what you will have on any repaired/replaced panel.

If ALL you are doing is replacing the panel (no structural work), I would just find the best paint shop that knows how to paint aluminum, which shouldn't be terribly hard these days with an increasing number of cars using Al. Knowledge of welding aluminum is not needed to replace the panel as it simply bolts on so all you really care about is that they disassemble/reassemble properly and do a good job with the paint.
If it was just a dent, and not a major one, those paintless dent removal places work just fine. I did this just a month ago and it worked out great for a couple hundred dollars.
Since you mentioned that the paint is damaged though, I guess a body shop will have to do the work. I feel for you. A tiny, unnoticeable indent behind the rear wheel was driving me crazy, so I can't even imagine what you are going through.