What Is Vehicle Frame Damage?

When your vehicle has been in a collision, the damage may not always be immediately obvious. From the outside, a fender bender might appear to have only caused a broken headlight or some scratches that can be easily fixed by an auto body shop. However, depending on the force of the crash impact, there could be more serious damage to the frame. If the main structural support of the car is severely bent or broken, it can make the automobile unsafe to operate. The following guide outlines more about vehicle frames and when to know if a car should no longer be driven.

A Guide to Vehicles & Frame Damage

What Is a Vehicle Frame?

A frame is essentially a vehicle’s skeleton. It is made from strong steel, supports the weight of the car, and helps protect the occupants in the event of a crash. 

Automobile manufacturers use two types of frames: unibody and body-on-frame. Unibody models are used for most passenger cars and SUVs, combining the chassis and exterior panels into a single, skeleton-like shell. These are light and strong, as the single-piece construction provides extra reinforcement. In a crash, unibodies tend to be safer than body-on-frame builds. However, the single-unit structure makes this option more difficult for an auto body shop to repair since the damage is usually widespread. 

Body-on-frame construction is mostly used on larger trucks and SUVs because they can handle more weight. This type of vehicle frame sits atop a steel, ladder-like chassis. They are easier for auto body shops to repair because single sections of panels can be removed and repaired or replaced.

How Do Frames Become Damaged?

Unibody frames are designed to collapse during a collision to absorb impact and reduce the crash force on vehicle occupants. It is less likely that this kind of significant structural damage can be repaired safely. Although a skilled auto body shop may be able to fix problematic areas, there’s always a chance the car could have ongoing safety or mechanical issues. Repaired frame sections are weaker than the rest of the car and could fail in the event of another accident. 

A frame that’s even slightly bent can change the way the vehicle drives, making it more difficult to handle. Warping can cause misaligned doors, hatches, or hoods that are unable to close properly, which presents additional safety concerns. While a professional can do their best to restore the safety and function of a car after a crash, some automobiles may not be salvageable. 

If you have been in a motor vehicle accident, turn to Consolidated Bodyshop in Crossville, TN, to have your car inspected for hidden frame damage. For more than a decade, this locally owned and operated auto body repair shop has provided expert repairs and maintenance for all types of vehicle makes and models. Visit them online to learn more about their services, and call (931) 456-4090 to make an appointment and get a free quote.