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Front end crash - can the car be as safe as before?

it looks like the driver side airbag, radiator support, radiator, fenders, lights, hood, and front bumper need to be replaced for a 2016 accord (unibody frame) after a front end collision (no one was hurt).

what comprises the crumple zone and can they be replaced with oem parts after an accident so that the crumple zone offers the same performance as a car that never crashed? thank you!

edit: the car will get a rough body pull (1 hr labor) and 2 hrs to set up and measure on the rack.

Without a photo, it is hard to say, but from your description it sounds like relatively minor damage that shouldn’t negatively affect occupant protection in the event of a crash. Just be sure that the shop is using OEM parts.

However, one item that you didn’t mention was the seat belts. Seat belts that were in use at the time of the crash could have been stretched a bit, and as a result would be less safe in the future. You might want to ask the insurance adjuster if they will also cover seat belt replacement.

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It depends on the severity of the impact. Hoods, lights, bumper and radiator are the first to go even in a low-speed front end collision. I would have a serious talk with the body shop, they can actually see the car and we don’t. There maybe some other hidden damage that can only be seen during a close inspection.

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How fast was the car traveling and what did it hit? That might help us understand the situation. As already mentioned, a picture would be very helpful too.

Regardless, you can certainly have a crash involving these parts where the repaired car is just as safe.

thank you. i’ve read on this forum that once the crumple zone of a unibody frame is used, it is never as safe as before. the analogy was a soda can. i didn’t understand this because i assumed the parts would be REPLACED rather than repaired.

i was just trying to get a general idea for the above point. the fine details will be best sorted by the insurance adjuster and mechanic at the dealer who can carefully inspect in person (more meaningful than any photo) sometime this week.

asking on the forum just gives me a peace of mind that the parts i mentioned can likely be replaced without compromising integrity of the entire vehicle.

right - the seat belt will definitely be replaced. i’m assuming that the dealer mechanic (good rep) will be thorough and work with my insurance adjuster. they will even revise the assessment after removing the bumper and really looking inside (if at all necessary). i want them to confirm that the unibody frame, alignment, batteries, ac pipes etc are 100% ok. it should be - but i’m deliberately allowing the experts to inspect and fill in the details. asking on the forum just gives me a nice preview and overall, general understanding. thanks!

Hoods, fenders, radiators, and bumpers are just bolt on parts. The radiator support might have to be welded on but none of that is significant. The crumple zone would include the shock tower assembly. If the shock towers are crushed or bent, that may mean a total loss. Even the engine cradle underneath though can be bolted on if that is bent so I’d mainly be concerned with the shock towers and the upper radiator support and if the front is skewed one way or the other. Otherwise its just a little expensive replacing all the parts and refinishing.

that’s what i was looking to differentiate - bolt on parts. i didn’t realize that the radiator support has to be spot welded (i know little about car mechanics). in that case, i’ll have to look again to double check if just the hood pushed back the radiator or if the radiator support was indeed bent. i’m hoping the damage is limited to bolt on parts only. i think that’s a good line to draw.

I guess what I’m saying is that a good body and frame shop needs to check the measurements to see if the front unibody has been skewed or not. There are measuring points and factory measurements that can be made to determine if the frame is still square or not. Can’t really tell by just looking at it.

Cars are made to bend when hit. There is no real strength in any of the front end parts. Body shops never put the car together right but it’s only electrical connections and air dams that are missed. Those things can be corrected when something doesn’t work or the engine runs hot. Missing air dams can cause overheating.

Oh, I don’t know about that

I’ve seen plenty of well repaired cars


[quote=“db4690, post:11, topic:103047”]
I’ve seen plenty of well repaired cars

So have I. I think dodgevan meant to write something else.


There is no way of knowing without inspecting the car closely. This sounds like a pretty healthy impact and my concern would be that those forces were transferred back though the floor pan, firewall, and strut towers.

Sometimes that kind of damage is very, very difficult to find.

Some years ago my youngest son rammed a Crown Vic broadside. (Crown Vic’s fault)
Standing back about 50 feet or so one would think his Camaro had not even been touched. Closer examination underneath and inside showed it was wiped out chassis-wise.
He sold the car to a bodyman whose intentions were to fix it and flip it for a few bucks. After getting into it he said no way and just parted it out.

(Part of the damage was not even detectable until the front carpet was pulled up. Once the carpet was up one could easily see the floor pan buckled; along with the firewall.

You should find a different body shop. A good body shop can make almost any car new again. But alas…many shops are in it for the quick buck with the naïve client.

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Something that should be clarified is that there is no “crumple zone” part on the car that you can just unbolt and replace. The entire car is a “crumple zone.” It’s designed to absorb the energy of a crash before that energy hits the driver. As such, as others have said, you need to have it professionally evaluated before you know if non-bolt-on parts have been damaged.

I’ll second @shadowfax on that. The frame horns (a misnomer because there is no frame per se) have weak points built right into them to allow the structure to crush and absorb energy. Once crushed beyond a small amount, they must be cut out a replacements welded in place or the car must be scrapped. Minor crush can be pulled out.

Nearly any crash can be repaired good as new if parts are available. Many car won’t be repaired because it is too time consuming to do the work and/or the body shop is too concerned about the liability of a less than proper repair…

They won’t be repaired if the cost to repair exceeds a certain percentage of the total value of the vehicle. It’s different in each state. Repair shops usually have no say in this. It’s up to the insurance company to say if they will cover the cost to repair or total it and cut the owner a check for the fair market value.

Fortunately in the very few times I have had to have vehicles involved in crashes repaired they have been restored to pre-accident condition. My state requires it.

Bring the vehicle to an ICAR certified body shop.

They’ll pretty quickly determine if the vehicle should be totaled.


This is a relatively new Honda Accord. If a reputable shop can repair it properly it will likely make economic sense to fix it rather than total it. This is a car that holds value like a Camry.

Then you have a cheap car like my Mitsubishi Mirage. I hit a deer with it when it was like a couple months old. I hadn’t even changed the oil in it yet and had just bought the oil and filter to do that job, I was able to drive it to the body shop but the place told me it might be totalled because of the inexpensive cost of the car. They said had the deer been a foot or more in front of the car, it would have been done for. As it was it smashed the driver door and window (I had to get out the other side), destroyed the hood, left fender, headlights, and a bunch of small parts like brackets and hardware. Had the car been a year old it probably would have been toast because it is a cheap car with high depreciation.

Here is the video! I run with a dash cam as I do service work and sometimes deal with unreasonable customers. If I have to defend myself using force I want to show why it was justified. I also see some of the worst drivers when I am out, especially mid-day, and have had some close calls.