Frame Damage

I got into an accident about a year and a half ago. At the time, I was under the impression that all of the damage was cosmetic and not structural. The car was only a year old at the time so the cost of fixing it was not high enough to total the car. The car was repaired under insurance. Recently I tried to sell the car to carmax. Their appraiser told me that the car has frame damage and may be unsafe to drive. The car has a unibody frame. The rear driver’s side section of the frame was replace and welded back onto the frame body. Is this repair technique standard? Or, should the car have been totaled because it is now unsafe to drive? I have a small child and am concerned that the body will not stand up to impact in a future collision.

If the repair was done correctly you should not have any fear for structural integrity, as far as trade in, it could be a detriment, though not a deal breaker. There is more than 1 car dealer in town.

You could ask a collision repair shop what they would charge for a structural inspection for your peace of mind. You would also have a printout to show at trade in or selling time.

Barkydog is correct that if done correctly it a non issue. Replacing a frame rail or sectioning a frame rail is standard procedure and manufactures have specified cut lines.

As far as trade in goes, all dealers can see the carfax (which is nothing but a marketing tool) and will make a deduction. I believe if the repair was over a certain dollar amount then dealers are required to disclose this to potential buyers. If you trade it in the vehicle more than likely will go straight to a wholesaler.

Repair shops do not turn over info to Carfax. From what I have learned (not the gospel truth) is that if there was a police report then more than likely there will be a Carfax.

There have been $600 repairs on carfax but none on a $6000

The other fact that is important is that the repairs were not reported to Carfax. The report is clean.

Also consider that Carmax has a financial reason to talk down the value of any car they’re considering buying.

I was told that once by an appraiser about a car I’d bought brand new right off the transport truck that had never been in an accident ever.

Anyone representing someone selling a car will tell you it’s an absolute gem.
Any appraiser looking at a car representing someone looking to buy it will do everything possible to convince you that the vehicle is in seriously bad condition. Since you had an accident on record, the appraiser used that to shake your sense of security, and thus your sense of your car’s value.

I guarantee that when CarMax sells the car it’ll be an absolute gem… without anything ever having been done to it.

It’s sort of like a child’s game wherein each child tells the other a tale and the opponent tries to guess if it’s true or a lie. Except in this case money is involved.

If someone sees you drop $10, they’ll likely pick it up and return it to you.
If you drop $100, they’ll probably pick it up and keep it.
For $1000, they’ll lie to you.
For $10,000, some people will break your legs.
For $100,000, some people will kill you.

Your case is between $1000 and $10,000. They’ll definitely lie to you, but won’t break your legs or kill you.

Carmax is not interested in a car with major body damage. Try another place. If damage is not on CarFax they likely will miss the damage if it was properly fixed.

Carmax doesn’t sell cars like yours but many many places do.

The best bargains at Carmax are unreliable luxury/sport cars purchased with their own backed extended warranties.

Andrew, you’re assuming that what the CarMax assessor told the OP is true. I’m not willing to do that. I seriously doubt if it actually is true.

I agree with VOLVO V70. For your peace of mind, find a different body shop and see they can double-check the repair job for a fair price.

If Carmax spotted the frame repair during a routine trade-in inspection, then it probably was not done properly…Done properly, a replaced quarter should be virtually undetectable…If your car has suffered major diminished value because of shoddy repair work, it’s time to go back to the insurance company and body shop that did the repair…

I have seen many unibody repairs that were obvious from underneath the car that were totally structurally sound and actually more sound than before the repair. When a section is properly peplaced there is a considerable area of overlapping metal that is welded top and bottom and often with gussets added. The welders usually grind down the flash and spray undercoating to prevent rust but that makes the repair quite obvious.

Early 70s cars often had landau vinyl roofs installed as an easy cover up when a complete rear was welded onto a wrecked coupe. I was often amazed at the results of a good mating of unibody sections.

But that’s not to contradict the CarMax inspector’s opinion. My opinion is that the CarMax inspector must report what he finds and when there is a structural repair he must consider the car less than original structurally and that is always considered suspect. A good street rodder would know what to look for if you can find one and have an interest in a repaired automobile or wish to ensure that an automobile you want to sell is safe.

I absolutely, wholeheartedly agree with Rod. Having been told on a car I was trading in that I know for a fact had never been in an accident that it had been, I’m highly skeptical of the statements of assessors that represent used car dealers in providing a report to be used in negotiating the car’s value.

If the assessor has shaken the OP’s confidence, a look-see by a reputable body shop should be affordable and restore confidence in the car’s safety. Have them show you anything they see.

If it were me, my justifiably-tainted opinion of these assessors would cause me to just go elsewhere to sell the car. Or just tell them firmly exactly how much you want for the car and let them decide, being prepared to walk away of they don’t meet your price.