A car accident is scary and can lead to some lasting damage to your car. One of the more intense structural damages is suffering a bent chassis. But can a bent vehicle chassis or frame be fixed, or will it require a replacement? We here at VEHQ.com have researched the question and answered it below.
Fortunately, trained technicians can fix a bent chassis or car frame with the proper machinery. These machines can push your frame back into the appropriate shape it had before the accident with immense force. However, some cases are so intense professionals cannot fix your chassis.
There are a lot of factors that come into play here. Everything from your insurance policy to the extent of a car accident informs the situation. So continue reading as we go more into depth on what exactly having a bent chassis means below.
What Happens if a Chassis is Bent?
Knowing the signs of a bent frame after an accident can save you a lot of trouble. There are inherent risks to continuing to drive with a bent frame. Recognizing concern right away can go a long way. Here are some warning signs to look for after running into a mishap.
Messed Up Alignment
An excellent way to realize something's up with your framework is a wonky alignment of your wheels. If you feel your tires pulling to the side, you should easily recognize it as a problem with alignment. You can test whether or not your wheels are pulling relatively quickly.
Find yourself a straightaway. Remove your hands from the steering wheel while it is safe to do so. If your vehicle still suffers pull, your alignment is off. A bent frame will continue to suffer misalignment even if you realign your car. You'll need to go to the root of the problem and fix your frame or frame to fix the problem.
Parts Fit Together Poorly
Components like your doors and windows are places to check for a bent frame. If the chassis or frame has sustained damage, all the attaching parts will fit it poorly as a result. The chassis and frame is the framework of your car, and no other piece can attach itself properly if it has sustained damage.
A bent frame or chassis will give your car components too much or too little room to properly connect. This fact results in your car components suffering from damage and stress should you continue to subject them to use.
Wheels Track Improperly
A bent frame will keep your wheel suspension from working correctly. Your two front wheels should remain directly in front of your two back wheels at all times. Your wheels will be off-kilter, almost diagonal when dealing with a bent frame, similar in appearance to a dog running.
With significant enough damage, you can have trouble keeping your vehicle moving in a straight line, no matter how much you correct your steering with manual input.
Uneven Wheel and Shock Wear
Your shocks, suspension, and wheels will all suffer uneven wear if your car frame is bent. This is due to their alignment not being even while running on the road. The sides where the bent frame distributes additional weight will lead to extra wear and tear.
Check out your shocks and wheels for signs of uneven distribution. If you see a noticeably lopsided problem, get it checked out immediately.
Strange car noises
If you're driving around with a damaged car frame, strange creaks and squeaks can come from your vehicle. There are many reasons for odd car noises. But consider checking out your frame if you start to hear them in tandem with some other issues listed above.
Two types of car frames are riding around out there currently. Depending on your make and model of vehicle, you may be able to see the damage on your frame.
Older cars and modern trucks use a frame called a ladder frame. These frames come with a crossbar across the length of the vehicle. In these frames, visible damage is harder to spot physically. Keep an eye out for the other signs of problems if you have an older car or a truck.
Most recent car models use what is known as a unibody frame. These frames use smaller components and do show physical damage. Check out areas like the doors and hood for visibly bent pieces.
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How Much Does it Cost to Straighten a Chassis?
The cost for a frame repair on your vehicle depends on several factors. Factors like where your frame was damaged, the extent of the damage, and how long it takes professionals to work on it all come into play.
Most garages will charge by the hour for the procedure, and the general fee runs you about 100 dollars an hour. Be aware, though, that going in with a little bit of damage in mind and a much smaller bill can quickly blow out of proportion when it comes to chassis and frame straightening.
While it is risky to drive with a bent chassis or car frame, there are also times when repairs may outweigh the cost-benefit of replacement. Be aware of your financial limits before heading into the garage.
Will Insurance Cover Frame Damage?
Collision insurance is a great way to protect one of your most valuable assets, second probably only to your home. Collision insurance covers your car from just that: collisions. This coverage includes the impact of other vehicles and stationary objects such as telephone poles.
Collision insurance differs from comprehensive insurance in what it covers. Some providers will require you to purchase collision insurance upon purchasing comprehensive insurance, while some providers let you buy each policy separately. Your prices will vary on the typical factors for insurance, such as your age and driving history.
There are rare instances in which you might choose to skip collision insurance for your vehicle. If your vehicle doesn't have much inherent value, isn't on the road very often (say, is in storage for the vast majority of its time), or is covered by another policy, you're able to forego an insurance policy on that vehicle.
There are instances where your insurance company may see the damage as too extensive to cover if your car is considered totaled. In these cases, your insurance should cover the fair market price of your vehicle at the time. Look more into your insurance options for more information.
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Is a Car Totaled if the Frame is Bent?
Figuring out if your car is totaled, short for a total loss, is essential to figuring out what to do after an accident. Essentially, your vehicle is considered 'totaled' once the cost of repairing it after an accident outweighs its worth.
One way to fiscally measure damages from an accident is to take the difference of the car's value previous to the accident with that of the car's value directly after the accident. If this value is in the negative, consider the car totaled.
Frame damage in need of repair doesn't automatically mean a totaled car. However, there does come the point where your frame sustains damage to the point where it becomes what is called a structural loss.
If your frame has sustained too much damage, certain insurance companies may say that you have suffered the total structural loss of your vehicle. Due to them believing the weakened state of even a well-repaired frame is a liability, they may not want to move forward.
Totaling your car when it comes to frame and chassis damage is another case of variables. The extent of the damage, the model of your vehicle, and your insurance provider will all have something to say in the end.
Your chassis and frame are critically important parts of your vehicle. As the skeleton upon which all other parts of your car ride, it needs to be structurally sound. The wheels, the steering column, it's all attached to the frame. It plays a massive role in your safety.
We hope this article helped inform you of some of the signs of an impaired car frame. Knowing what to do next with a damaged car frame goes a long way in keeping you safe and keeping your costs to a minimum. Make good choices and be as safe as you can out there. Your vehicle will appreciate it from the frame on down.