What Is Structural Damage On A Car?
Much like the human body, an automobile has a skeleton that supports its weight. This skeleton is commonly called the frame, and it is also used to protect the driver in the event of an injury. This is why a car frame is always made of steel that is both solid and strong.
Anything else would be unsafe and would probably not be able to survive an accident of any consequence. Unfortunately, even a solid steel frame can be broken if the trauma is great enough. In this article, we will examine this problem and attempt to give you an idea of what is going on and what you can do to correct the problem.
The Two Types Of Car Frames:
There are a number of different ways in which a car frame might be designed, but you don’t need to be familiar with all of them. All you need to know is the difference between the two most common types.
This is by far the most common type of vehicle frame for cars. A unibody is a combination of frame and body. There are several reasons why most of the industry has now switched to unibody frames.
One reason is the ease of manufacture. These frames are much easier to mass-produce because they are fitted together in pre-formed pieces. In addition, they provide a level of reinforcement that other vehicles cannot match. In a series of crash tests, unibody SUVs were found to lower the risk of death for both driver and passengers.
These unibodies are the reason that most outer car bodies are no longer made of steel. With a strong unibody frame inside the outer frame, the metal shell is no longer necessary. Also, unibody frames are usually lighter than body-on-frame models, allowing for greater fuel efficiency. Here is a good example of a unibody frame for easy reference.
There are two downsides that come with this frame type. First, they cannot handle as much weight as the traditional frame-on-body design. Second, unibody frames are much more difficult to repair if they become damaged.
These types of frames are still very popular on larger vehicles like trucks and buses, as well as some SUVs. This is done for several reasons. For one thing, it’s not a good idea to fool around with designs that have long been proven to be effective. More importantly, a traditional frame can handle a bit more weight. That’s a very important factor when designing a truck or bus. Most people seem to agree that these types of frames are better for work.
At the same time, these simpler designs are usually easier to repair than a unibody frame. WIth a simpler kind of design, it is far easier to remove and replace a single section. When repairing a unibody frame, it is more difficult to replace a single section without compromising an entire side.
As we showed earlier, these frames do not tend to provide the same level of crash protection. However, the material of the outer body is also of some importance. A body-on-frame should be safe enough if the body is made of steel rather than composite material.
What Can I Do About This Problem?
If you have frame damage to your car, there is no doubt that you have a serious problem. In most cases, it will probably be cheaper to buy a new car than to replace the frame. However, some of this will depend on the type of frame involved and the degree of damage incurred. However, you should always start by getting estimates from various repair shops. Compare these prices to the cost of another vehicle before going any further.
The first thing you may be wondering is whether or not you can fix this problem yourself. Chances are, you cannot do so. While there are some very basic frame repairs that can be accomplished without special equipment and knowledge, the vast majority of these cases will require professional work.
If you are dealing with a rusting issue, you should strongly consider scrapping the vehicle. If the frame has reached a point where rust threatens any part of the frame, it is probably too far gone. You may only see one section that needs replacing at present, but there is probably more corrosion that you don’t see. The thick enamel coating on the steel (which is usually present) can hide a lot of rust damage.
The rusting issue can become much worse if you live by the coastline. Saltwater proximity leads to a higher level of salt in the air, and this has a harmful effect on steel support beams in general. While a thick coating can help, this problem will always be present.
Your biggest problem lies in the straightening of the frame. If the frame of your vehicle is bent by even a small amount, it can cause your car to drive crooked. If you’ve ever seen a vehicle that looked like it was driving sideways, it probably had a bent frame.
Another issue is that a repaired frame will never be as strong as it once was. This is mostly due to the fact that it is no longer a single piece. Even after being welded in place with the best methods known, there will always be a weak point that could cause catastrophic failure in the event of an accident.
In most cases, your best option would be to sell the car for whatever you can get. You can sell the entire thing to a scrap dealer, or (if you are mechanically inclined) you can take the car apart and sell it one part at a time. Frame repairs are only worth the money and trouble for cars that have a special value for one reason or another.
It should be obvious by now that frame damage is a very big problem. In many cases, it will mark the moment at which the car is officially shot. However, you should not rush to get rid of a car upon learning that it has some frame damage. Minor issues may well be treatable, so treat it like a loved one on life support. Save it if you can, but don’t prolong the inevitable.