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Collision to my front passenger side at wheel

Greetings - I was driving about my 2007 ford focus - manual transmission - 25 mph on a side street in the middle of a block when I was suddenly struck on the right side. My car landed about one car length ahead and into the oncoming lane. It seems someone was back out of their driveway very fast and backed quite hard into my car. Her rear end spun to forward and back into her yard knocking over a fire hydrant. All my damage looked as if she hit directly at the front right wheel and the wheel looked from my non-trained eye to not be in correct position at the stop of my car, the wheel appears pushed in from the photo I took - enough so that I expected it would not move; in fact when the cop tried to move it the front end lifted slightly and the wheels did not turn; he stopped trying immediately. The front passenger side door would not open more that about an inch. The front hood appears lifted out of place increasingly from the windshield towards the front end and then back to place.

It was towed to a auto body shop. I had no experience with auto body shops and was 100 miles from home so just went with the one my car insurance recommended near my home which is not owned by the insurance company. That was on Friday and it is closed until Monday and I am guessing did not yet get seen for evaluation as it is sitting in the corner of their locked yard.

My question is - what do I need to ask, check for, evaluate to be sure that when they estimate and plan and fix it is done right? I do not have any one I know that knows cars so do you recommend I pay someone from another location to come and evaluate with me? I am concerned about front wheel drive, alignment, axle, and I don’t know what else …

It has about 46,000 miles on it and was in great condition before the accident. I have never had a car accident in my over 25 years of driving many many miles - so this is all very new to me.

2 photos from time of accident and 1 from before.

Please help me with your thoughts and ideas. d

Your own insurance company will give you a list of approved adjusters and repair shops to get an estimate acceptable to both of you. You don’t have to second-guess anybody. If your state requires this to be reported to the police, do so, and give the name of the party that hiot you. If it is their faault, their insurance will pay, but your insurance will take care of the paperwork.

Keep track of taxi and other expenses

Thanks - the police took the report and I called my agent immediately and they did an expedited claim so as to get me a rented car and apparently paid the tow already since the tow driver was going to call me for payment if they didn’t. I kept asking the police if i needed to do anything else and they kept saying no. I was slightly hurt and in shock and evaluated in an ambulance so was not out in the street for all the interactions. I knew the police took the information so I did not and they and my insurance said that was ok. But now I am being questioned by “experienced” friends and family… so thank you - I was completely confidant until people questioned my not getting her info… Of course it was in front of her home so I think I could find her!

And watch out they don’t just patch it up cosmetically, say a fender and a straight wheel.
Test drive it before signing off on it as ‘‘repaired’’.
A hit like that can reach inwards a long way.
They’ll need to check ;
the wheel, spindle, a-arm, strut , tie rods, steering gear, c/v shaft , sub frame, even into the trans axle if it whacked the c/v shaft inward enough.

Without car in hand it’s near impossible to say but with an impact like this suspension, subframe, and floor pan problems are always a possibility.

Other than the obvious control arm, strut, sway bar, wheel hub issues the subframe, strut tower, etc. should also be suspect. Some of this type of damage is not visible to the naked eye and may require a precision frame machine to detect. Body shops have also been known to do a quick fix (exterior body with paint) for the quick money and hand the car back without considering the more dire possibilities.

I’d get a copy of the police report. Many people who take responsibility for an accident at the scene often have a change of heart later on (sometimes after lawyering up) and may decide that the accident was either all or 51% your fault.
She backed into you but what if she claims she heard the banshee wail of a screaming car engine and was horrified to see a speeding vehicle rocket out of nowhere? I’m not saying that you were at fault; only that stories change and the police report will carry a lot of weight.

thanks for your responses… I do intend on getting the report - have to wait 5 days - have the pd # and the officer’s name, so I will have it. Also I had posted photos i took with phone - not great - but i don’t see them here so have to check that. I have many mechanics who know older cars in the family - just not near by - so I know there are many things i will not see or know. The front wheels would not drive when the cop tried to move the car so I know there is damage I hope to have a list of things to ask about - so plan to say “did you check the _____________?” substituting the words you have all put here - so thank you. Are there other questions I should know- like do i ask “how did you check the __________?” “What were the results when you tested the _____________?” I just want to know the questions to ask…

And what answers should I be questioning?

Thanks in advance! peace. d

The body work that can be seen is one thing but my main concern would be with the chassis, and especially so considering the appearance of the front wheel. It’s a safe bet that some suspension components are damaged so do not allow this area to be brushed off.

Potential suspension faults could be the lower control arm, sway bar, strut, and wheel hub. Other more serious issues could be related to the subframe (the lower control arm attaches to this), the strut tower, and the floor pan.
The strut tower and floor pan should be examined very carefully for any cracking in the paint and undercoat as cracking usually means something is collision damaged.

Once all is repaired I’d recommend that the car go on the frame machine as that may be the only way you would ever know that things are back as they should be.

(Regarding the cracking in the undercoat and paint, a few years back my youngest son wrecked his Camaro when someone turned in front of him. The car did not really look that bad with radiator, headlights, battery, etc. not even damaged at all. Closer examination a week or so later revealed some cracking in the undercoating and we determined this car was a total loss. He sold it to a body man who checked it and he agreed with that opinion. Point being that extreme care should be used in any inspection.)

Thank you for the suggestions and words to use when asking and evaluating my car needs.

Follow up… I almost got my car back - and much of what you all mentioned was checked and most replaced. I could not get there during open hours so was set to do a off hours pick up. Other driver insurance (which happens to be same as mine) is accepting fault so there is no charge to me. As well as paying any out of pocket expenses.

However when I got to it I noticed two things: 1 - fender is not in line with the rest of the car - off slightly sometimes further in sometimes out - not more that a quarter inch but I can notice it. Also the front hood does not fit together the same on both sides. The metal under the door also is not the same as it is on the drivers side - as if it too was pushed it and not returned to its original place.

How much can I expect in terms of the fit and alignment of these parts?

  1. There is a horrible vibration in the whole car when I turn it on. So much so that I was not willing to drive it away. Along with that a click or knock - slow but continuous coming from the engine area. I know this was not present before because I would have had it in to Ford if it was.

Any ideas?

Final question - I have heard there is a way to claim the devaluation of the car - knowing the car’s value dropped just because of being in an accident. Do any of you know where I get that information?


Leave the car at the body shop until it is properly repaired. Fenders and hood should line up. There should be no vibration just running the motor and it should drive smoothly at interstate highway speeds. It is best not to accept the car until you take a test drive and everything seems just like before the accident.

If you are not satisfied with the body shop repair call your insurance agent for advice.


I would pay for a independent adjustor to look it over before I accepted it as repaired. Unless it was bad aftermarket body parts that were used. I think the frame rail never was pulled/put back to spec. Lets hope it just body parts that dont aline. This should have been a easy fix with a good frame rack. Ask them to show you if aftermarket parts were used. Even if factory parts were used they could be bad…ie not stamped right. I once went thru 5 factory doors before I got one that was made right.

The body panel fit should not be that far off for whatever reason. To get to the engine problems I would ask the following.

Does the engine vibrate at idle only and smoothes out as the RPMs rise?

Does this clicking noise occur with the car stationary or only while moving?

thanks & questions

How do I find an independent adjuster if I need one?

I have already been in touch with insurance because shop was closed over weekend - left both messages as to why the car is still there.

I know they were ordering OEM parts from the beginning. But I will check on it. I will check the paperwork when I go in this AM.

I was alone and opted not to take for a test drive cause did not feel safe in car. It was vibrating and clicking while idling. I did put in clutch and moved through gears to see if there was any change and there was not. I drove forward just to straighten car and noticed no change in vibration.

I only moved it forward a car length as the wheel did not look straight and it was on crooked ground. After move tire straight but fender still not. it looked like the hood may be off center and that they may not have addressed that it was moved in the accident.

When I take it for a drive I will report back.


Good Day!

bummer - had a whole post here and lost it… that’s what I get for multi tasking!

went to auto shop - pointed out the poor fit of fender - of course they agreed. also pointed out that the metal under the passenger side door is pushed in and that the hood may actually be off center. They are addressing.

went for test drive with mechanic. he could not hear the soft (at that point) extra knock from the engine area. he also did not comment on my indicating that i did not used to ‘hear’ my engine as loud as it is now. nor did he comment when i identified the very strong vibration in the car.

the vibration while idling is felt very strong in the steering and i feel it in the whole car; so much so that i would be sick driving any length of time in it. when we drove - up to about 45 - vibration felt less but not gone in steering wheel. However there was a strong fast vibration in felt in my foot on the gas pedal that was increasingly noticeable while increasing speed. he turned on and off AC, fans, etc - nothing changed noticeably. I did not notice anything as I changed gears (other than my transitioning back to a manual transmission.)

once we returned to shop and car was idling the low-toned knocking in the engine area was very noticeable - obviously getting worse as the car warmed up - mechanic even acknowledged it!

I get that he did not know what the car drove like before the accident but not happy that he did not express belief - maybe his own frustration at not noticing it.

They will take it to a car shop in town for diagnosing the problems. I am familiar with the shop and used them for my 2000 focus. it was up in miles - 160,000 probably when i started using the shop - kept it going until nearly 200,000 miles. however near the end they had trouble diagnosing the problems and i had to take to dealer. Is it different diagnosing car/ engine/ transmission/ etc in a car with 47000 miles that in a car with 180,000 miles.

I reviewed the invoice - items related to suspension, ABS Brakes, wheels, alignment, sensors, body are there - nothing regarding the running of the engine/ transmission/ etc. What kinds of things do i need to make sure they check that could be causing my care to run as it is since the accident?

any other thought you can offer me
hoping to have my focus back soon - missing my sun/moon roof

I’m on the way out but I’ll be back this evening with some thoughts after reading the latest info you have provided.

This is from experience. We were rearended and the ins adjuster (both cars were insured by the same company) came out to our body shop and looked ath the damage with the shop mgr. and estimated the damage at X amount with the understanding that there might be additional hidden damage, there was almost $1800 more, the adjustoer authorized the extra amount after seeing photos of the hidden damage. I received a little more than 10% of the repair cost for diminished value, if you recieve an offer for diminished it will most likely be based on what your car was worth prior to the accident, how much the repairs were and what your car is worth now if they offer you anything. But I iwould definately as. I’m not sure if you should ask your adjuster or the other persons insurance company. Good luck

This is going to difficult to figure out without car in hand. As to the vibration you mention, it could be that is caused by 2 or more things. Vibration at idle could be due to a vacuum leak which could be caused by a fractured vacuum fitting, vacuum hose off, etc. This will be more pronounced at idle and go away as the speed increases.
The vibration at speed could be due to alignment, bent wheel hub or wheel, suspension component, and so on.

The part about the metal under the door being pushed in may, or may not, be of concern. They should have caught this but then again, the body fit should have been correct when it went out the door also.
The thing about damage under the door is that sometimes that can point to a buckled floor pan and present some serious issues. I’m not saying a serious issue exists here; only that it’s a concern.

It’s a bit baffling to me about no suspension parts being charged out. This, combined with the wheel sitting at an odd angle, makes the entire repair suspect.
I’d give these guys one chance to iron it all out and stay on top of the adjuster. If it means taking it to someone else for a completer redo then that’s what needs to be done.

A couple of years ago my daughter’s Mustang got hit from behind and the repair (done by a pro body man on the side from his regular day job at the same thing) was not very well done even with a complete new rear fascia being installed. The insurance company authorized the same guy to do it again. The second time around was not much improvement so they had her use someone else and the 3rd time was not perfect, but acceptable anyway.

I bet you will be driving a different car by The Forth of July…

Thank you for your comments - they have been quite helpful.

I went back to pick up my car - and the only thing they seemed to have done was the external work. they sent me down to the machanic who does their engine diagnostic work and he and I went for a drive. He compljetely acknowledged the vibration and the noise I heard. Also, the mechanic pointed out that with car idling and hood up one could see the engine vibration and feel it even stronger.

I have not gotten the official estimate; my adjuster indicated that the shop had called in to report further work needed and the comment went something like this… The right front axle was pushing on the transmission and effected the suspension and they had to replace it. Adjuster thought ‘it’ was the transmission - I will get the official estimate hopefully on Monday so i can be more clear.

At least I can feel validated - I will let any of you interested in the actual shop language once i have it.