Sudden car accidents are never fun, and most times, you never see them coming. The after-effect of an auto accident can also be traumatic, for you and your car’s body. However, most frame damage is repairable.
The vehicle’s frame is the main supporting structure that supports the vehicle’s weight, provides a rigid structure to ensure the safety of the occupants in case of a sudden impact, and ensures safe drivability on the road. Unless the car suffers from a severe impact where the vehicle is a total loss, the frame, after a collision, can be repaired by a skilled technician using specialized framing machines, returning the car as close to its original factory specifications.
Framing machines use hydraulic pressure and torque to straighten bent parts of the vehicle’s frame. If the structure is deemed unrepairable after using a frame machine, parts of the frame can be cut off and replaced with new metal pieces which are welded in place. Don’t give up on your vehicle after a collision; it is possible that its lifespan has not been reached just yet.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF FRAME DAMAGE?
Let’s look at the types of damage your car’s structure may face after an auto collision. When it comes to frame damage, there are three types:
After an accident, if you notice your car tends to lean in a specific direction while driving, it may result from a twisted frame. This type of frame damage is hard to recognize; however, gaps in the car’s body are one sign you can look for. A twisted frame will cause the coils and tires to wear faster, and you may also notice your vehicle will lack stability when driving at higher speeds. A skilled mechanic will use frame straighteners to repair a twisted vehicle frame, which does a great job of fixing minor frame damage using a leverage process.
Mash damage is when the vehicle gets hit from the rear or a head-on collision when two cars are driving in opposite directions crash into each other. When this occurs, the frame accordions onto itself, resulting in shorter frames than its original length. This type of damage is usually shown by distortion or wrinkles in the hood, fenders, rails, or frame horns. A mashed frame can also have a ripple effect of damage, as it can extend to other parts of the vehicle. Mash damage can happen at high and low-speed collisions.
Sway damage happens when a car gets hit in the corner or t-boned, causing the frame to bend to left or right. If your vehicle tends to favor drifting to the left or right after a collision and will not drive in a straight line, you may have sway damage. Other noticeable issues are feeling vibrations caused by tire balance issues which are speed-sensitive, and driveshaft issues, which is an intense shaking coming from underneath the vehicle due to worn-out u-joints or bushings that can cause the driveshaft to vibrate. The misalignment can also cause severe damage to the car transmission. Sway damage is also repaired at an auto body shop using a frame straightening machine.
WHEN IS FRAME DAMAGE IRREPARABLE?
In most cases, frame damage is repairable; however, in some cases, the cost of repairing the frame is far more than what the car is worth. When this happens, insurance companies will determine the repair-to-value ratio. If the cost to repair the damaged vehicle is more than the vehicle’s value, it may be more cost-efficient to use the car as a tax write-off and not pay to have it fixed. Severely damaged vehicles, where the frame is in several pieces, are best left unrepaired and sent to the scrap yard.
Below are a few signs to know if your car may be totaled:
- If your car is leaking fluids and it is unable to drive. Leaking brake fluid is a huge problem because if your brake fluid ultimately leaks out, you will not be able to control your car safely. When you spot a leak, do not drive the vehicle because it may not stop when pressing the brakes. Instead, have it towed to your local garage where a mechanic can complete an inspection.
- If your car is over five years old and has suffered extensive damage to its frame. As a very general rule of thumb, a car is usually reliable up to 5 years providing it has been maintained.
- If your vehicle is very old and cannot sustain repair damage. Usually, this is a car that’s over ten years old with mileage way over 120,000 miles.
- If your vehicle has a high amount of miles. A modern car may be able to travel up to 200,000 miles. Therefore a vehicle can probably run perfectly fine for more than ten years if you’re an average car owner who drives about 12,000 miles a year.
If your vehicle is concluded unrepairable due to its repair-to-value, your insurance company will determine the fair market value. Most insurance companies will use one of two outside valuation services that provide vehicle values primarily to the insurance industry. You can request a copy of this report and verify all the information is accurate.
FRAME DAMAGE DOES NOT MEAN THE END OF YOUR CAR’S LIFE
Damage during a car collision does not have to be the end of your car’s life. There are many instances where a vehicle framework is repairable, and your car can be restored. Even the slightest bit of damage from the collision can put yourself and your passengers in danger; it’s imperative that after a crash, you take your vehicle to a professional auto body shop to have it inspected.
At Liberty Collision, we will make sure your frame is properly inspected and repaired using specialized structure straightening machines. Even some fixed and cleared vehicles to drive after rear-end collisions will likely exhibit light tweaking to the frame that can through off-wheel alignments and the center of gravity. Our technicians are trained in the latest repair methods, which will ensure that your frame will be properly aligned and centered, restoring your vehicle as close to its original position as possible. Keep us in mind for your collision repair needs.