Frame bent on Rav4. No accidents. PLS help

I have a Rav4 Prime at 37K miles; warranty ends at 36K. I am the only owner. I took the car to the dealer today for a malfunctioning front collision sensor that stopped working during a thousand and some mile road trip last week. It stopped working while driving on the interstate. There were no major bumps, or rocks, or anything. The sensor just stopped working, or at least I thought it was a sensor malfunction.

The dealer salesman told me that the sensor was working but that the sub-frame is bent. In fact, they said that the frame was bent downwards causing the radiator and the hood to be not level. This in turn caused the sensor, which is part of the Toyota logo, to be mis-aligned and not function. They told me to take it to a body shop to have the frame aligned. Honestly, the dealership made it sound like the car had to have been in an accident.

I am completely shocked since the car is only 2 yrs old and was not in a traffic accident. I may have hit a few potholes several months ago during the winter but would a pothole cause the frame to bend?

What can cause a frame to bend such that the hood is off by, maybe, 0.5 to 1 inch from side to side? It sounds like it would take a substantial impact.

Another strange part is that he said that the frame was bent downwards. What could cause a frame to bend down on one side of the front of the car?


I’ve known of new vehicles that had structural damage/misalignment from shipping accidents, but were sold to the public anyway.



A frame shop might give you a free estimate, but just having the front frame pushed up should not be that hard or a huge repair cost at a frame shop…

I would start with going to another stealer - when they deal with warranty, they find numerous (usually bogus) "reasons to deny repairs.

Is it possible you hit a parking block and bent the car?

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Regarding the possibility that Mustangman mentioned, I will add that if the car was ever loaned to a friend, relative, or co-worker–even for a short drive–it is entirely possible that a parking block or other obstacle was hit and that person didn’t tell the owner about their mishap.

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Ahh, Yes, the brother-in-law diagnosis! Very possible!


Or hit while parked. I had a friend that kept finding water in the trunk area. Careful inspection found the body metal bent allowing leaks around the tail lamps. When I dug further, it became apparent someone had smacked the rear end pretty good at one time but was completely unknown to the friend. The plastic coverings had a few scuffs but not much visual damage. The metal underneath was a different story…


Seems to me that there should be other visible damage on an accident hard enough to bend the subframe.


While possible, this smells of BS. I would definitely take it to another dealer. Damage like this should be apparent with a visual inspection.

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Subframe is bent? Collision damage claim? If car is not to spec then it needs to be fixed? Seems like you think something is not right. Manufacturing defect? Who knows.

OK, well I’ve seen two of them so far. The one I cited and a guy that got rear-ended right out in front of work. The car behind him was obviously totaled. It went under his car. His car looked fine and he was thinking he got off unscathed until we went underneath and saw how badly it was bent up. White car, couldn’t even see a scratch on the bumper but the trunk lid was stuck and you could see the body gaps were all messed up. Ins totaled his car too…

+1 to Texases’ comment.
Additionally, why is the OP listening to the opinion of a salesperson at the dealership? Unless that salesperson is an extraordinary exception to the norm, he/she probably knows less about the mechanical and electronic aspects of the car than my dog knows.

What frame was bent in the rear of vehicle? What vehicle was it?

Same as the Rav4, they were unibody construction but everyone seems to use “frame” as a ubiquitous reference to the understructure of the vehicle these days…


I think most semi literate car guys know the difference between the unibody and subframe. Since many cars have subframe rusting issues. They learn about car construction.
What do you call the structural member that holds front bumper/crash bar?
I hit someone and bent my frame rails. Subframe may not be bent in some cases.

My 86 Buick had a rear wheel alignment problem from day one only discovered after wearing the tire out in 20,000 miles. Shop said it was damage from the hold downs in transit to the dealer.

My suggestion would be to not get too distracted from the OP questions looking for arguments with other posters. I stand by what I posted.

Co-worker had a brand new car that would eat front tires like donuts.

After arguing with the dealer for months, took it to an alignment shop.

Both lower control arms were bent.

Shop said probably happened when the vehicle was lashed down for transport, and the transporter hit one hell of a bump or series of bumps.

He got his money back from VW.



Tester is correct.
This car fell off the truck before it hit the sales floor and the dealer won’t own up to it.
Shouldn’t just say the dealer. It could have been anywhere from the plant that built it and its final destination. Sad part is that you will never be able to prove this.
Sorry for your misfortune.