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08 with Unibody damage

I was in an accident 2 weeks ago in my 08 Town & Country. I was as a full stop, and was hit in the rear, driver’s side. Talked to the body shop and they told me that my van has unibody frame damage. Last estimate was around 8000, and they were still doing a “tear down” They are now waiting to get the inside rear panel that was damaged in the crash. I was also pushed into a 3rd car. My question is: Should I be concerned after they “repair” my van that it is unsafe? How should I make sure that I can put my kids in there and drive safely.

First of all, I hope no one was hurt.

The term “unibody” applies to most modern cars, minivans, and crossover vehicles. What it means is that the “frame” and the body are all one piece. There is no separate “frame.”

A significant hit can cause substantial damage to the unibody, and therefore to the “frame” of the vehicle. In addition, modern vehicles are designed with “crush zones” which are meant to absorb and dissipate crash impact by bending, or crushing, at a controlled rate.

These “crush zones” are one-time-only, and once they have absorbed an impact they will never, in my opinion, be as strong as they originally were.

Because the vehicle is “new” your insurance company will probably not want to consider it a total loss, and will pay for repairs.

The big question is; how hard was your vehicle hit? We can’t see it, so we only have the information you provide to go on. It’s possible that there was NOT significant damage. On the other hand . . .

Whether or not any of this makes your T&C “unsafe” is a matter of opinion. Years ago we all drove around with no ABS, no traction control, no seatbelts, for heaven’s sake, and somehow we survived (or at least some of us did).

If you can provide more info about the impact, it might be helpful.

Good luck!

In short, if they say it should be junked, accept that and move on. If they (the insurance company and the repair shop) say it can be fixed, accept that. While it will not be the exact same as it would have been if not damaged, it likely will be just as good. In some cases it may even be a little better, in more it will be a little less, but not enough to worry about.

Unibody is the standard these days, but most damage can be repaired. Often with the additional stuff they do, it comes out stronger than original. The most likely and annoying issue are squeaks.

Talk to both the insurance company and the body shop.

Many people over react to this kind of event. Don’t let the horror stores told to you by someone who know someone who … It is really easy to do, but try and relax. Remember we don’t get messages from people who sign on to tell us that their car was fixed 10 years ago and it is just fine today. I believe most people are in that category. Good Luck.

Edit: Looking at the photos strengthens my opinion that the car can be fixed just fine. Not cheaply, but it should be fine. See what the insurance company wants to do.

Here are photos of my car. I was hit by a Ford F250 carrying 6-55 gallon drums. My husband went there this afternoon and took pictures and said that my van is on a frame machine. It also has the entire rear taken off, and the front bumper has been removed. Is there anyway that I can fight the adjuster? Now that it was in an accident, the value of my van is gone.

You will be safe when the work is done, if it is done right.

The damage does not look that severe but the body is going to have some major cutting and splicing done.

More than likely the vehicle will be perfectly safe to drive. The big issue would be that the vehicle will suffer “diminished value”, which means that if you attempt to sell it in the future a prospective buyer may not want to pay the going value for the vehicle because they will perceive the damage as being much worse it is.

Collecting “diminished value” can sometimes be a bit of a pain so you need to talk to your insurance agent about this.
I would also have a written, NOT oral, understanding that the claim will be left open for any future problems that may surface (irregular tire wear, etc. which could mean bent rear suspension parts or subframes, Check Engine Light due to gas tank venting line problems, and even possible transmission or halfshaft problems.)
An oral promise means absolutely nothing and what is promised one day will be entirely forgotten the next.

Thank Goodness You Were In A Chrysler T&C…
… and not a little “clown car !”

I too have been concerned about keeping my family safe. I own a Dodge Caravan and we love it.

Was the front damage minor?
Was there any mechanical damage, like the radiator or anything?
Was the car drivable or was the body metal against the rear tire?
Is it in the dealer’s shop or a reputable facility?

I guess my main concern would be with the rear axle alignment after the repair. There are specifications for corner-to-corner measurements and other information used in straightening and replacing frame rails, etc. Also, the estimate should include checking and aligning all 4 wheels and making sure everything is straight.

I’m guessing they aren’t going to “total” it because it’s newness makes it very valuable. I think you will probably have to have it repaired. Then you would have to drive it, sell it, or possibly trade it. The sell it and trade it options would probably be quite costly.

To reassure yourself as to the car’s safety, talk with the person/people actually doing the hands-on repairs. These people generally take pride in their work and are really craftsmen.

Click the link below and read about a recent question we discussed concerning an 08 Prius.

Good Luck!
Let us know what is going on, please.

Well, I spoke to the adjuster (at my lawyer’s office after my recorded statement), He was going back out to inspect my T&C but said at that time he was estimating the damage to be around 30%. He also said that was before they finished the tear down, they body shop had not even taken a look at the front end. This is what I saw when I was there on Thursday…NOT pretty. The body shop told me that they are going to be replacing everything from the sliding doors back on the driver’s side, across the top and to the passenger’s side. Then they have to replace the floor board, molded inside on the driver’s side, passenger’s side and roof. Not sure about the front, or electronics, or painting and interior, but right now my estimate is 10,000 and climbing. To my calculations, that’s around 50% of the value. The adjuster also said that there is no diminished value for a car in Florida. I will just have to take my repaired van and live with it. How much value would I have in a van that had most of the backend replaced and some of the front end?

Thanks for everyone’s help. BTW, my kids were ok, but I am suffering from a bruised sternum and ribs (seat belt), my left clavicle is ab out an inch out of alignment, and I have a concussion. Thank GOD we got that car after our 2nd son was born. He just turned 1 last week.

I Am Used To Seeing Cars In A State Of Repair …
… like this. (I see there’s one like it next to your’s.) Think of it like visiting someone in the hospital with tubes and wires, etc. It can be traumatic. However, they look and act just fine once they are out, most often living to a ripe old age.

Here are some of my opinions:

I have actually bought the totalled salvage (car) from 2 accidents we have had and repaired or had them repaired and kept them. They have been good cars.

When this vehicle is repaired you should not be able to tell it was.

You don’t say if you drive your cars for several years or forever or whether you “trade” them or sell them when you update.

I’m guessing with trade-in it’s “don’t ask, don’t tell,” doesn’t matter. When my cars have gotten older and I have sold them, people don’t seem as concerned about repairs.

I am leery of cars that have been in an accident that involves wheels/axles and their position on the vehicle. Sometimes a shoddy repair could result in alignment, handling, or tire wear problems. Body damage does not concern me anywhere near as much. I have purchased used cars with former damage.

It sounds like you will still be the owner. Should the vehicle not be satisfactory to you following repairs, the work should have a warranty and I know with my insurance company, a satisfaction guarantee. You can take a loss by selling it or trading it in and starting over if you wish.

Good luck! Thanks for photos and updating. I hope you are better soon.

P.S. You didn’t say if the van has a name. Be nice to her. She took a hit for you and kept injuries from being major. Cars can be totalled, replaced, stolen, traded, sold or whatever. This van did its job of protecting. This will be just a memory some day. It’s the people in your family that are really valuable.

Oh, and one more thing, doughnuts or homemade cookies or brownies are appreciated by the guys at the shop if you happen to be going by. These hard working craftsmen (and women) take pride in their work.

I haven’t had her long enough to give her a name, but yes we are blessed that she did her job and kept us all safe. I have already done that. My father was a mechanic for 45 years before he passed away 10 years ago. I know the ones that I need to treat extra special. They are the ones that are going to make sure my car is safe to drive.

My 1997 Town & Country collided with another vheicle a week ago. Damage is to the driver’s side front quarter panel, hood, windshield and right front wheel. The driver front door doesn’t open all the way because it rubs against the fender. The left front wheel is bent in a slant and rubs against the rear wall of the wheel well. Please notice the terms I used are not industry standard. Damage estimate is $5,100. The van is old, I know, but it drove so well. Except for the brakes pulsating when I try to stop, everything worked well. As a matter of fact, that pulsating bothered me. I spoke with the mechanic about it the day before the accident. I guess what I am getting at is I will probably have to scrap this, right? Due to a mix up with having 2 Town & Countrys on my insurance and cancelling one of them, this one ended up with no collision, only liability and comprehensive coverage. I have to pay out of pocket. The dealer can work with me by using after market hood, fender and wahtever else; that will bring the cost down only a little. Is this throwing good money after bad? I can buy another vehicle. Should I try to recoup some of my money by parting it out? I just bought new tires and had some other work done. I don’t know how to remove any of the parts myself.

Thank you.