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Car Frame Damage: What You Need to Know

November 30, 2020

accident involving front bumper

If you have gotten into a car accident recently and your car has suffered frame damage, you probably have a lot of questions. Depending on how bad the damage is, the collision repair cost for a vehicle with structural damage can be quite high, but professional attention is what’s best.

What’s the Frame of a Car?

The frame is basically your car’s structural support system. It acts as the foundation of your automobile and is a key component that offers protection to you and your passengers if you’re ever in an accident. There are two main kinds of car frames: unibody car frames (more common) and ladder auto frames (AKA body on frame designs).

Car frames are typically made of sturdy metal, regardless of what kind of body frame type you have.

What is a Crumple Zone?

There are many crumple zones on most unibody vehicles. These are indented parts of the frame that create a slightly wavy shape, designed to fold in a crash to better absorb the energy of the impact. This folding typically occurs at the car’s front end, quarter panel or back bumper, and in theory at least, will present less damage to the rest of the car and reduce risk of injury.

After a crash, the vehicle’s safety is compromised, and related mechanical problems may surface prematurely later on, says CARFAX.

What is Considered Frame Damage?

This is when the frame’s structural integrity has been compromised, usually due to an outside influence, such as third-party alteration or collision. In a nutshell, key areas of your vehicle that provide structural support have been compromised in some way, which can lead to an unsafe vehicle.

You may wonder if you can drive a car that has experienced autobody damage. The answer is not cut and dried.

As long as your car is still able to maintain a straight line and all of the wheels are in alignment, it will probably function fine for normal driving.

The problem would come in if you were to get in a collision. Whether your car would still be able to protect you would depend on the extent of the damaged frame. With minor damage leaving the rails intact and most of the frame fine, there shouldn’t be a problem and the crumple zones would be OK. This example would include if you got a small dent on the rear quarter panel.

But when the frame damage is more severe, it probably won’t be safe in a collision, especially if a crumple zone has been enacted, you have a major bent car frame or have significant alignment issues.

How to Check for Frame Damage

The best way to check is to have a trusted mechanic look at it. They can easily spot signs of damage and make the necessary repair. They will be on the lookout for:

  • Twisted or Saggy Frames: Gaps in the body will display sags within the frame. If you don’t fix this issue, you will experience quicker wear on your tires and coils. Signs of this problem include unstable high speeds and turning issues.
  • Sway Damage: This happens with corner hits, resulting in the car leaning toward one side and misaligned.
  • Mashed Frames: These usually happen in head-on or rear-end collisions, resulting in clear crumple zones with obvious damage.

You may wonder why frame repairs are so costly. The answer lies in their importance in the structure of your car. You’ll have to have the frame fixed if you want your car to drive straight and have the ability to protect you in a collision.

Can You Sell a Car with Frame Damage?

If your car has experienced frame damage in the past, you may still sell it but there are some challenges involved. A junkyard may want to buy it for scrap metal, or a parts company may want to buy it at a low price. You aren’t very likely to find a buyer who wishes to purchase the car to make the repairs so it’s in a drivable condition, as this comes at a high price tag after the initial sale.

It’s likely you’ll have to subtract the cost of repairs from the asking price. Your vehicle will lose between 30 and 70 percent of its resale value because of the damage, as people are aware that buying a car with frame damage comes with a big risk.

Contact Hance’s Uptown Collision Center

Come visit us in Dallas or Plano if you need collision repair on your vehicle. We would be glad to accommodate you, with affordable prices and convenient scheduling. Contact us today at either location.

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    4829 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75205


    1201 E Plano Parkway, Plano, TX 75074