Was it a small fender bender or the kind of low-speed collision that winds up worse than it seemed? It doesn’t take much to total a car, especially if the frame is involved. Fortunately, not all frame damage is beyond hope. In fact, a highly credentialed and experienced auto body repair shop, such as Turk’s Collision, can repair the most common types of frame damage typical of Chicagoland’s neighborhood commute speeds.
However, it still requires prompt attention to make sure minor frame defects don’t go from a body repair issue into a full-blown mechanical problem (or worse). Our body repair specialists are here with advice on the most common types of frame damage and what to do if you suspect it.
What Is Frame Damage on a Car?
Frame damage is any type of damage sustained by the car’s frame. Functionally speaking, we’re considering the chassis, or undercarriage, along with the frame, which is technically the structural body resting on top of the carriage.
When it comes to frame and/or carriage damage, cars can only withstand a very limited amount. It’s also hard to rule out every sign of frame damage, and any kind of impact can damage the frame, even at low speeds. The only way to know for sure is to look for the telltale signs and, above all, have it inspected.
How to Spot Signs of Car Frame Damage
The most direct way to spot frame damage is to visually inspect the frame, including attachment points with other components. However, a DIY inspection can really only reveal defects on the outer frame and along the lower plane (of the chassis). That may be sufficient, and it’s worth a look. You’ll still need to investigate further, even if you don’t see signs of bends, cracks, or asymmetry from below or around the frame’s outer surface.
Beyond the frame itself, there are several more subtle signs of a damaged frame, including:
- Alignment problems, including uneven tire or suspension wear
- Odd sounds that are difficult to place
- Other seemingly random components falling out of place
- Stuck or misaligned windows
- Failing insulation, especially at the boundaries of the frame
- Wheel rotation issues
It’s a lot to try to rule out yourself. You’re best off getting a professional inspection as soon as possible.
What to Do if Your Car Has Frame Damage
A frame and chassis are like their skeleton, so it’s very dangerous to continually drive with frame damage. Doing so can also significantly worsen the damage, even if it was initially very slight.
As soon as possible after the collision, get it to the nearest safe location. You’ll have to decide if a tow is in order, knowing that driving a potentially damaged frame increases the risk of further damage. The best thing to do is stop using it and arrange for a professional inspection.
If you don’t see a reason to suspect the need for auto mechanic work (e.g., engine, steering, or suspension issues), you can go directly to an auto body repair specialist. Turk’s Collision has ASE and other top industry certifications, so you’ll always receive accurate and actionable insights.
Our technicians can quickly confirm if you sustained one of the four types of frame damage on a car:
- Mash damage, in which one of the frame’s ends was compressed inward (typically after front- or rear-end collisions).
- Sway damage, where corner damage causes the frame to lean to one side.
- Sagging frame, when the frame literally sags inward or downward. There are usually telltale gaps along the frame/body connection.
- Twisted frame, which is a combination of sway damage and a sagging frame. This one is the hardest to detect without highly specialized equipment.
It’s entirely possible, though hardly the rule, that you should not repair frame damage. Our experienced technicians will provide a fully qualified assessment of how severe the damage is and whether the frame and/or chassis are beyond the threshold of safe repair.
Get Your Vehicle Back on the Road with Turk’s Collision Auto Body Services
Frame damage requires highly custom body shop service because each car’s frame and chassis are fundamentally different. Don’t delay and risk further damage, especially when most low-speed collisions do not result in irreversible damage. Call Turk’s Collision for attentive, professional service and answers to your frame damage questions. We provide direct, industry-approved insurance billing and shuttle/rental options, so you won’t even miss a beat.
Image credit: SKT Studio // Shutterstock