Car frame damage can be devastating to your vehicle, given the importance and functionality of your frame. Beneath all other parts of your car is the frame, which functions as the structural support system for your vehicle. It serves as your vehicle’s foundation and is designed to help keep you protected if you are ever in an accident.
Frame damage is a term that refers to any time the frame’s integrity has been compromised in some way, including through an accident. When frame damage is confirmed, it basically means that there is damage to part of the structural support system of the vehicle. How can you tell if your car needs a car frame repair? When should you have a professional inspect your vehicle for car frame damage? These questions and more will be answered in this article.
Spotting Car Frame Damage
Regardless of the severity of your auto collision, car frame damage is always possible. Cars are essentially designed to crumple on impact, serving to protect the vehicle’s occupants. Because of this, however, it is often hard to spot the significance of the frame damage.
The best and most reliable way to determine if you have frame damage is to seek assistance from a professional who can inspect your vehicle and determine if you need a car frame repair. However, there are also a few ways you can spot car frame damage yourself.
Check the Alignment
It is nearly impossible to align wheels on a car that has damage to its frame. That means if you have tried to get an alignment recently and it was unsuccessful, you likely have some frame damage. Being unable to get a successful car alignment is a telltale sign there is, or was, some damage to the vehicle’s frame.
Look for Tilting
Tilting usually happens after a fairly significant crash and is not likely to happen if you were just involved in a mild fender bender. You can tell if your car is tiling by parking in a straight line. Park your car in a parking lot so you have the lines to use for reference on either side. Then look to see if the car seems to be going in one direction, whether to the right or left. If it is, the frame is likely titled and therefore needs to be taken to a body shop for car frame repair.
Open and Close Doors
You can try spotting frame damage by opening and closing everything. This includes the hood, trunk and doors of your vehicle. Each of these entry points was made to close very tightly. If you struggle to open any of them or they open too quickly and easily, you likely have frame damage. Doors should not freely swing open and likewise should close properly. If they do not stay closed when shut, there is probably an underlying frame issue.
Check for Gaps
Take a walk around your vehicle and see if you spot any gaps between the body parts of your car. After any type of accident, you are likely to find scratches and dents. Those are not really an issue unless you see parts of the vehicle pulling away from other parts. That is usually a sure sign that you have car frame damage that needs immediate repair.
Types of Frame Damage
Now that you have inspected your vehicle a little bit, you will want to know what kind of frame damage has likely taken place given the observations you made. When talking about unibody frame damage, there are slight variations.
Minor frame damage does not compromise the crumple zones. These are just cosmetic issues that will not have any major impact on the integrity of the vehicle. These repairs are typically quite inexpensive. Once repaired, the vehicle is considered safe to drive. However, it is hard to determine whether exterior cracks are actually minor or something more serious. Sometimes even the smallest of ripples can have a more dramatic effect when not properly resolved.
If you had a collision and it was in a corner of the vehicle, sway damage can be the largest and most likely issue. This type of frame damage is significantly easy to spot. It just looks as if there is a lean in one direction. The vehicle usually will not drive in a straight line and you can start to feel vibrations when driving. Ultimately this can lead to transmission issues and a complete breakdown when not properly addressed. If you notice a lean, it is best to have your car checked right away to see if a car frame repair is needed or just simply a car alignment.
Twisted or Sagging Frame
You can spot a sag in the frame from visible gaps in the body. Given the unevenness, the vehicle leans more in one section. As this continues, the coils and tires wear out quicker.
A twisted frame will often cause the same type of damage. However, a twisted frame is not quite as easy to notice as a sagging one. You have to locate the source of the issue by thoroughly inspecting the frame. Instability at higher speeds and difficulty making turns are warning signs that point toward a twisted frame.
A frame that is mashed most commonly occurs in rear-end or head-on accidents. You do not have to have been moving fast to incur this type of car frame damage. Mashed damage can occur even if the accident took place while traveling at a slow speed.
After the accident, the car frame basically crumbles into itself and one part becomes shorter than it was before the accident. Once the frame is mashed, it can create ripples in other areas. This can lead to a combination of twists, sways and sags.
Car Frame Repair
If you have damage to your car’s frame, you need to have it fixed immediately. Any damage can mean that your car is unsafe to drive for the time being. In addition, you should not consider selling a car that has frame damage. You need to use the services of a reputable auto body shop in order to receive a reliable car frame repair. One to consider is Rob’s Customs and Restorations, where you can inquire about services or set up a car frame repair. If you have questions about potential car frame damage, or if your car is in need of repair, reach out to our car frame repair experts today.