In many ways, the frame of your vehicle is the most important part. Engines and transmissions are the most expensive parts to replace, but they are still interchangeable components. A frame, on the other hand, isn’t really an interchangeable component. You can’t simply remove the old one and bolt another one in place. If a damaged frame cannot be repaired, the whole car is a loss. Why? Because it simply isn’t safe to drive a vehicle with a damaged frame.
Knowing When Your Frame Has Been Damaged
The frame of your vehicle is not readily visible, so it isn’t always easy to see when those critical struts have been damaged. However, other cases are much more obvious. For instance, if you have been in a head-on collision and the front of the vehicle is crumpled in, you can bet that the frame has been damaged.
One good idea is to look at the vehicle from all angles and see if it has been “twisted” by the impact. If so, the lines and corners won’t be quite right, and that twisting indicates frame damage. You also might be able to detect frame damage when you drive your vehicle. Telltale signs include:
- Unusual vibrations coming from the wheel area
- Odd noises and/or vibrations when turning
- Lack of stability in general
- In severe cases, the vehicle may lurch to one side, making it hard to stay in your lane.
In the end, though, you won’t usually know for sure until a qualified professional has assessed the vehicle. If you see any of these signs, it is essential that you get the vehicle to a shop immediately. Yes, it’s inconvenient to be without your car for any length of time, but serious injury and death tend to be a lot more inconvenient.
Why Is It Unsafe To Drive A Vehicle With Frame Damage?
If your frame has only sustained minor damage, you might feel that you can ignore the problem and keep driving. This, however, is a very bad idea that could even result in serious injury or death.
Even if you are a careful and competent driver, an accident can happen at any moment. Even if you do everything right, someone else’s carelessness can still cause a collision. That’s why you always wear your seat belts, that’s why you always keep your airbags in good shape, and that’s why you never drive a car with a damaged frame. That frame is like a cage that gives you some protection against the outside world. Think of it this way: Would a smart knight go into battle with weak armor? No, of course not.
In some cases, frame damage may even cause a collision. As we said in the earlier section, frame damage can make it hard to keep your vehicle on a straight course. Obviously, that can cause you to run right into another vehicle through no fault of your own. So, if you’re thinking of driving a car with such issues, don’t do it.
Can Frame Damage Be Repaired?
In many cases, frame damage can indeed be repaired. However, it depends on the full extent of the damage. You should probably know this right away: If the frame damage is bad enough to be visible after the accident, it probably can’t be repaired. However, there are many instances in which a frame just receives a little warping from the impact. That metal can be straightened, but only to a certain point. If you go too far with that straightening, you will weaken the metal significantly. So, you can bend and beat the metal back into place, but only to a certain extent.
The location of the damage also plays a role in this question. There are some parts of a vehicle’s frame that are less essential than others, and some parts can even be replaced. In the end, it comes down to two questions:
- 1. Is the cost of repairing this vehicle greater than its value? (in other words, is this thing more trouble than it’s worth?)
- 2. Can this vehicle be returned to a safe and usable condition?
Frame Types Also Make A Difference
There are two basic types of vehicle frames: Unibody and body-on-frame. A unibody frame is incorporated with the outer parts of the car (i.e., the “body”). This allows the components of the frame and body to mutually support one another. Most cars will have this type of frame, so this is probably what you have.
Most trucks and larger vehicles, on the other hand, will have a body-on-frame design (also called a ladder frame). In these vehicles, the frame is a separate piece, shaped roughly like a ladder with wheels, to which the body is bolted. In most cases, bolt-on-frame designs are easier and cheaper to repair because they represent an older and simpler design.
No matter what kind of damage you are dealing with, the help of competent professionals will be needed. Frame repair is not the kind of job that you can do at home in the garage, so it pays to trust those who have earned your trust. If you are now asking yourself: “where can I find a trustworthy auto body shop near me?”, then we have the answer. All you need to do is call us at (856) 218-0202.