Bent frame


#1

I’m sure you’ve been asked this before. I have an 05 toyota matrix that was hit on the right front end. it shouldn’t have been more than a fender bender, had the woman driving the suv crept across the intersection instead of flooring it. ramming my car. I couldn’t open my door.



geico wants the body shop to fix it. the certified toyota dealer says they can straighten frames now to within a millimeter and that it should be fine. I had intended to sell the car to get out of the high payments. I live in NJ and here there is some law that says we can’t be compensated for depreciated value. What would you do? Thanks!!


#2

Im no expert here but a bent frame usually meant the car was considered a total loss. However I have heard of them straighting them out BUT this is the insurance company your dealing with! And in my opinion theyre always up to no good.


#3

I had a colleague that went through the same thing with a brand new Mercury that he had only owned 2 weeks. He claimed that the insurance of the party that hit him and was at fault should replace the car. He could prove the loss in value of the car even after it was repaired. However, the insurance company had the advantage and he finally had to settle for a fraction of the depreciated loss on his car due to the accident.

On the other hand, I have another colleague who was hit by an ambulance hurrying to the hospital. The rear end of the ambulance swung out and struck the rear of my colleague’s car. His car was a Ford Maverick that was about 6 years old at the time and he was ready to get rid of it. He wanted the company that insured the ambulance to give him a check for the damage and he would be happy. Well, that insurance company insisted that the car be repaired. They rented a car for my colleague and the body shop took twice as long as it had originally estimated to repair the car. The insurance was out much more than just giving him a check. The afternoon my colleague got the Maverick back, he traded it in. Both he and the insurance probably would have been money ahead to just settle the claim on the spot.


#4

I would go with what the Toyota dealer said and have it repaired.


#5

That car has no frame. It’s a unibody vehicle. Much difficult and expensive to fix. Chances are it’ll never be “exactly right” ever again.


#6

Yes, even a unibody can be straightened, if not too far damaged. The machine is a huge, extremely stable table with measurements on it, perhaps even a laser measuring system, and four large hydrauilc rams with chains. Doing so generally requires substantial disassembly and reassembly of the chassis and is not generally less expensive that “totalling” the car, which is the reason it’s often not done.

FoDaddy’s point that it may never be quite the same is a good one. It’s a crap shoot. Since it’s somebody else’ liability, I say let them fix it and then sell it. Once repaired, you are under no obligation to disclose its history unless specifically asked.


#7

Modern equipment and a good tech can meet or better factory alignment of the frame. What your legal standing is in relation to the total loss, depends on what state/county you may be in.


#8

They can straighten out the frame, but the metal will now be work hardened. The question should be (and I don’t have the answer) “Will the car offer the same protection to the passengers in the form of crush zones as it did before the repair?”


#9

Modern equipment and a good tech can meet or better factory alignment of the frame.

THIS IS CORRECT!!!


#10

Im no expert here but a bent frame usually meant the car was considered a total loss.
…old news, a bent frame rail no longer means a t/l.

this is the insurance company your dealing with! And in my opinion theyre always up to no good.
…State Farm & Country want to do the right thing but,…Progressive is a big bunch of ignorant cheats.


#11

There is no “frame”…It’s just tin. If the R/F wheel has been moved out of position, the unibody structure has been deformed and the car will never be the same. It’s like trying to uncrush a crushed beer can. Yes, it can be done, but it’s never exactly like it was…


#12

Well. it looks like my new handle might be “bentframe.” My insurance co. is Geico and I have heard similar stories about them similar to the Mercury story. Her in NJ we are told we can’t expect recovering depreciated value.

So far this advise is about 50/50.


#13

You’re talking about several thousand dollars. If it was me I’d consider spending $150-$200 to talk to a lawyer, if you haven’t already. Ask someone you know if they can refer a good general practice lawyer. Qualified advice is worth paying for.


#14

There is a “frame”, its just not a separate frame. It can be brought back into dimension but I do question what will happen in a subsequent accident. If someone were hurt in a later accident because the crush zones didn’t work as originally designed, could the OP sue the insurance company or the Toyota dealer?


#15

That car has no frame. It’s a unibody vehicle.

FYI…True, there is no frame like the older vehicles but, it does have front & rear frame rails that are welded to the unibody as well front aprons (structural as well) that are welded or “glued” behind the fenders. And the right tech and the right equipment can make the car better than new.


#16

If the R/F wheel has been moved out of position, the unibody structure has been deformed and the car will never be the same.

This does not mean the unibody is bent. It could be a bent/broken strut, control arm, spindle or a sub frame ( engine cradle ). The sub frame is not the frame rails which can be repaired or replaced if it is not a t/l


#17

I couldn’t open my door.

Certainly I have not seen the car (could you post a picture) but just so everybody knows, just because a door won’t open does not mean the frame is bent. Most often it is simply the fender being shoved back preventing the door from opening.

Hope all goes well this vehicle, post back


#18

Yes. The Frame was definitely bent according to the body shop. They started taking it apart on Wednesday and said that the frame could be straightened to a millimeter. Also that the radiator needed replacing and a few other things. I won’t have a breakdown of the cost until Monday. Here’s a pic. It really doesn’t look so bad in the photo. Bear in mind that there was gallon of paint in the back that looked like a horse kicked it.

I have been trying to find a lawyer that will address this. So far I haven’t been able to find one. New Jersey has some law that you can’t be compensated for depreciation. That’s what the insurance company tells me. Geico.


#19

I can’t tell from the pics just how bad it is. Often it’s not near as bad as what it seems. If the wheel is pushed back this often means a bent suspension components (control arm, strut, sway bar, etc) and in some cases, IF it’s bad enough the sub-frame may be bent or tweaked.

The sub-frame is a replaceable assembly like the suspension components and this is not necessarily a bad thing at all. It’s a bit more complicated if the floor pan is buckled but these can be straightend and will be fine, depending on the severity and how proficient the job is done.
Just from the pic itself the vehicle does not look that bad and I can’t tell you what to do about the depreciated value part of your problem.


#20

Thanks. We’ve decided to let go of any concern about depreciated value. It would be nice if it were just a major fender bender and no big residual problems. It does get 35 mpg so maybe I can still sell it.