Can your car's frame be straightened after an accident?

October 15, 2014

Depending on the extent of damage to your car's frame after a crash, it may be possible to fix the frame. Discover the factors that will determine if it can be done.
Safe but crumpled

Almost half of all traffic accidents involve some kind of damage to the inner frame of the car. One reason for this high percentage is, ironically, because cars are becoming safer.

Modern cars are built with “crumple zones,” absorbing some of the impact of a crash and sparing the passengers. So cars have become safer but their frames are more susceptible to damage, even in low-speed impacts, which may cause huge and costly damage that you are not immediatelyaware of.
Stay on the straight and narrow
Auto body shops straighten damaged car frames with specialized machines, using hydraulics and powerful torque. The machines may be able to push and pull your frame back into shape, depending on the amount of damage and the type of frame.

The shops will try to return your car to its original factory specs, sometimes using advanced laser measurement systems to ensure everything is properly aligned and shaped. Ultrasound equipment might also be used to diagnose the extent of the damage at the beginning of the process.
Car frame welding
In some cases, frame straightening techniques won’t work on their own. One possible alternative is to cut out the bent portions of the frame and weld in new straight metal pieces.

Welding can significantly reduce the structural integrity of the metal at the weld points if not done properly. To ensure the car frame is safe, the skills of a professional welder are required.
Some frames can't be fixed
Sadly, the auto body shop might advise you to scrap the car, because it would be too expensive to repair, or because the repair just wouldn’t be effective. The bent frame could result in chronic poor wheel alignment and structural defects that mean your car will never drive the same again.

So your vehicle would be listed as a complete write-off, which would mean that you could get an insurance payout to purchase a very straight new car. Worst case, you may be able to sell off intact parts of your vehicle.

Can your car's frame be straightened after an accident?
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