What To Do For A Bent Car Frame
Just because your car’s frame is bent doesn’t mean you can’t drive it, and that doesn’t mean it should be considered a ‘total loss’ right away either. What it means is that you need to get additional information before deciding what to do.
The truth about modern car frames
There was a time many years ago before modern unibody car frames were widely adopted when a damaged frame was considered beyond repair. Or at least, beyond an ‘economically viable’ repair. At that time, ‘ladder frames’ were predominant. Unlike modern frames, frames back then were extremely sturdy, so bending them was only possible if the collision was severe.
Now, car frames are designed differently. Instead of ‘the sturdier the better’ approach, carmakers are focusing on safety and saving lives.
Modern unibody frames feature special ‘crumple zones’ designed to absorb the energy from impacts. This technology increases passengers’ safety in exchange for a ‘controlled damage’ in the car’s frame. In practice, this translates into a higher probability of frame damage than in older cars, even for collisions at low speeds.
Since frame damage is so common, how do insurance companies determine if your vehicle should be declared a total loss? That has a lot to do with the different types of frame damage.
Different types of car frame damage
With car frames, the term ‘bent’ is too vague. Depending on the severity of the collision, your vehicle may have different types of frame damage:
- Minor damage: The accident did not bend the frame, or in case it did, its dimensions are within the manufacturer’s tolerances. This kind of collision does not require any work on the frame, only on the car body.
- Sway damage: This type of frame damage is common when your vehicle is hit in a corner. It’s relatively easy to detect, however, it will require a frame straightening machine to fix it.
- Twisted/Sagging frame: A twisted or sagging frame is the typical result of a lateral collision. Depending on the conditions of the accident this type of damage could be harder to detect and thus more expensive to repair. To fix a twisted or sagging frame a straightening machine operated by experienced auto body technicians is crucial.
- Crushed frame: When the vehicle is hit directly on the front or on the rear its frame could be crushed, hence, it will end-up been shorter than before. Since modern vehicles are designed with ‘crumple zones’ this type of damage is somewhat easier to fix by means of replacing the damaged section, however, depending on the accident it may require other repairs as well, including straightening the frame.
The cost of repairs can vary greatly from one type of damage to another.
How to tell if your car’s frame is bent?
There are certain symptoms to look for that may indicate your car frame is bent.
- Your car cannot drive straight. This is one of the most alarming signs of a bent car frame. Fortunately, taking the vehicle to a tire shop and make them check wheels’ alignment may discard frame damage.
- Doors and/or truck don’t close properly. This symptom is common when the car frame is bent. Gaps in doors, trunk, and hood are common when this happens. You will have to take your car to an auto body shop to determine the root cause.
- Unusual noises. Pay attention to creaking, squeaking, and other noises including unusual tire noises when turning. All these noises could indicate that your car frame is bent. Take your car to an auto body shop for further inspection.
Is my car totaled If the frame is bent?
A vehicle is considered totaled when the cost of repairs exceeds its market value.
Fixing a bent frame is extremely difficult. It requires specialized machinery, time, and skilled techs.
To only way to determine if a car should be totaled when its frame is bent is by doing an inspection using special tools and measuring equipment. A professional inspection is required to find hidden damages and get an accurate estimate of repair costs.
Depending on these costs your car might be totaled.
Can a bent car frame be fixed?
Definitely, car frames can be straightened to their original dimensions. However, since your safety might be compromised if not done properly, you should not trust your vehicle to inexperienced people.
Thanks to the implementation of impact-absorbing crumple zones many lives are being saved every day. Yet, it’s inherent ability to ‘absorb energy from impacts’ makes this kind of frame prone to bend regardless of the severity of the collision. Insurance companies are aware of it so they tend to total a car only if absolutely necessary.
Beyond the cost of repair, a damaged car frame should be taken seriously as it represents a safety risk for all passengers. If you believe your frame is bent you should consider taking it to a professional auto body shop.
If you live in the Wichita, KS area and look for reliable auto repair services at affordable prices then Global Collision Centers is the solution. Our experienced auto body technicians can handle any collision repair job, including professional frame straightening.
Give us a call today to schedule an appointment! 316-351-7373