CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Bent frame-should I replace it?

Last week I was rearended. Between the price that I paid for the car and the cost to repair it, I am not sure if I should repair it. So…my question you to is- What would happen if I don’t repair the bent frame? Would the tires wear unevenly? What would happen if someone else hits me and I still have a bent frame?

Make, model, year, miles?

Depending as to how bent it is and if the car really has a frame (most cars HAVE NO FRAMES), you might be doing something VERY DANGEROUS! If the car has an actual frame, and the damage not too severe, a good body shop will have a frame puller and can restore it to straight condition. This was common practice in the past.

A good body shop can decide if there is structural damage, or if the wheel alignment is off. You have no doubt seen some cars “dog tracking” down the road; those have the rear wheel badly out of alignment and the car moves partially sideways. This affects the front and rear tire wear, steering and other undercarriage items as well.

Please tell us what car/truck you are driving as well as year and mileage.

Isn’t the other party’s insurance going to pay for your repairs? Will they give you a check with no cosigners (body shop)? If not, you may not get cash.

#1 The car may be TOTALED.

#2 You do NOT have to get it fixed. You can just take the cash and keep the car (minus the buy back fee) or buy a new one.

#3 Even if the car ISN’T TOTALED…you do NOT have to get it fixed. It’s totally up to the owner.

As with so many other things in life, the devil is in the details.
In this case, the details include all-important information regarding the vehicle’s make, model, and model year.

As has already been stated, most cars today DO NOT have a frame, and instead rely on unitized construction. “Straightening” a unitized car’s chassis is usually…less than perfect.

As an example, try crushing an aluminum can, and then try “uncrushing” it.
While you can “uncrush” it to a great extent, the can will never again have the exact same shape as it did originally.

Now, imagine the effect on your wheel alignment after your car’s unibody structure was straightened. The car might look okay to the naked eye, but it would never be the same again in terms of its exact dimensions. And, most importantly, it would never again have the same passenger protection as it did when it was new, due to weakening of the structure.

But, to return to my question:
What is the make, model, and model year of your mystery vehicle?
Perhaps it does have a separate frame, but until you identify it for us, we cannot respond appropriately.

Bent frame doesn’t have the same meaning as it used to. With unibody, just yanking on one piece can presents more problems than the crash itself with frame members now tied together by welded body parts. I’ve had body people say, there were case where the safest thing to do, was to re align the components and leave the body/sub frame structure alone and slightly bent. I would say, check the price and safety evaluation of; if it’s FWD, having the rear wheels aligned if possible first w/o; and check the rest of the components and especially “new” clearances from the accident.
Then make a call…too much missing info now.
Remember too, that in an accident unibodies are designed to be sacrificial and protect the people. This car “may” have now been sacrificed if you’re now safe.

You got rear ended. the other guy is automatically at fault for following too close in 99% of such accidents, unless you were a swoop and stoop kind a guy. I take it you are not. So the insurance adjuster should be the one to decide if this is a totalled vehicle or not. but if the one who hit you had no insurance, and you did not have uninsured motorist on your insurance, You can take it to three body shops and get estimates. They will know for sure. then you can sue the guy who hit you, at the very least you will be able to put a lean on his car. This can be a whole lot of fun, trying to collect. If you have not learned a lesson from this, it is to get uninsured motorist insurance. Why in the world would you want to keep a car, (even if it is one with an actual frame) that has a bent frame? That would be a bad a choice as driving without uninsured motorist insurance.

We need a lot more info to even guess. However, the choice may not be entirely yours. The obligation of the responsible party, met via his/her liability insurance if he/she has any, is to make you “whole”. That means that they’re under no obligation to compensate you for more than the current value of the vehicle (plus other damages). Frame straightening is an expensive process, not usually used on older vehicles with reduced value and unibody damage.

Depending on your state’s insurance regulations you may even have the option of having the car repaired or accepting a check for damages. But if their offer seems too low, check with your insurance befor esigning the check. In many states your signature can be legally considered an acceptance of their offer.

Before I answer, I would also like to know the year, make, model, and how many miles are on this vehicle. How about it, cml011. Are you going to tell us?