Frame damage could be an alignment issue that requires some adjustments or could fully compromise your car’s safety features. Due to this range of possibilities, car frame repair may be expensive to address. In some cases, if the damage is too great, your insurer may declare your vehicle “totaled” after an accident. As you pursue repairs to your car’s frame, here’s what you should know.
Types of Car Body Frames
Cars are built upon two possible frameworks: Unibody or ladder frames. Unibody frames are the most common, featuring a single-piece shell for the body panels and chassis that can be broken down into multiple parts. It’s a popular feature for cars and SUVs that’s lighter, delivers stronger structural integrity and offers better fuel economy.
In the event of a collision, the entire frame may become bent, as it’s designed to crush on impact to protect the passengers. As a result, the vehicle cannot drive in a straight line and certain areas may be weak, even after repairs are made.
The ladder frame, an older design once used for cars but now more common for trucks, tends to offer better resistance, thanks to the symmetrical rails and cross rungs making up its core. The power and drivetrain get placed right on top of the frame and from here, the body panels are added on top.
Both types of car frame have crumple zones. Growing in popularity as a safety feature over the past few decades, these areas absorb impact energy in the event of a crash and “crumple” as this occurs. Crumple zones have reduced the number of crash-related fatalities over this period but, as a downside, a low-speed collision may partially compromise their structural integrity.
Generally, once a crumple zone is damaged, the frame is too. Even when these areas are fixed, your vehicle doesn’t offer the same degree of impact absorption. As a result, passengers have a higher risk of experiencing injuries when a crash happens again.
How Frame Damage Affects Your Car
After an accident, you may still be able to drive your car but you need to make sure the wheels are aligned so the car drives in a straight line. As the vehicle no longer provides the same collision resistance, repairs will be necessary in the near future.
Your car may still be drivable if the dent is small, it’s on the rear quarter panel, the rails and frame aren’t affected or the crumple zones are intact. On the other hand, frame damage rarely looks like this and often requires some kind of body repair. Once your car’s frame is damaged:
- Its panels will likely need to be replaced.
- It may have issues with braking and steering.
- The radiator may be crushed.
- The alignment no longer meets the manufacturer’s specifications.
- The frame is sagging or twisted in some areas.
- The coils and tires will start to show signs of wear.
- Your car feels “unstable” at high speeds or during turns.
- The car feels as if it’s leaning to one side.
Car Frame Repair Services
When you bring your car to DaSilva’s Auto Body, we’ll assess the vehicle to determine the degree of frame damage it has experienced. From here:
- We may use laser measuring to see where the issues are and use this information to bend the frame’s metal back to the manufacturer’s specifications. Laser measuring is used again to make sure all alignment specifications have been restored.
- Frame straightening may be used to return the vehicle’s frame to its initial shape. Beyond manual repairs, this technology involves hydraulics and torque to push or pull the frame back into its original position, depending on the type of frame.
Never drive long-term with a damaged frame. Instead, make an appointment for a frame assessment and repairs. To set up a time, contact us today.