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Front wheel well collision repair question

Hi everyone,

I’ve attached a photo of some damage done to my parked car, and I’d appreciate any input about the repair process.

The autobody shop manager told me that based on a visual assessment and after driving it at maybe 25-30 mph for half a block, there is no reason to be concerned about the control arm, wheel, spindle, strut, tie rods, steering gear, c/v shaft, sub frame, transaxle, sway bar, or floor pan. (I asked about these terms that are all new to me thanks to another CarTalk thread). When I asked if these components were checked, the autobody manager simply answered that the mechanic they sent the car to did that work, or that there was no reason to check those components based on his visual assessment of the damage and where the impact was. I asked if he put the car on a precision frame machine, and he said there is no reason to because his visual assessment of the car does not indicate any frame damage occurred. When the tow-truck driver drove the car onto his trailer, it lurched forward and he had to brake suddenly. It’s never done that before, and I assume the guy has used the gas pedal on all kinds of cars he’s towed. No marks on the wheel from the collision.

The body parts were replaced with factory parts, but I haven’t seen the repaired car yet. Total cost of repairs was $3,000. I plan to do a test drive at freeway speed before signing any paperwork.

I don’t care about the value of the car, it’s a 2014 and I plan to have it a long time. I’m worried about new vibrations at speed because of internal component damage and repair costs that might appear later on. I’m a student and I need this thing to get me to clinical rotation sites.

Is it reasonable to make repair decisions based on a visual assessment?

Is there a more hands-on way to assess/diagnose internal component damage?

Do I need to worry about any components not mentioned?

Should a car that had a collision be put on a precision frame machine regardless of how it looks to the naked eye? What info would the precision frame machine provide?

Thanks a lot for your advice!

-E

Are you experiencing said vibrations, or just worried that they might happen?

Best advice is to let the shop do the work. If you get the car back, and it vibrates or pulls or does something else that it wasn’t doing before, call the insurance company and say that the shop did not fix all the damage and you need that to be addressed.

Keep in mind that 1) those body shop guys have been doing this a long time. A visual/on-the-lift inspection is probably fine because they’ll usually know if it’s bad or not by how it looks. And 2) the body shop does not gain by not finding damage on your car unless they find so much that the insurance company totals it. The insurance company is going to pay them to fix what got broken, and being lazy by pretending something isn’t broken when it is just translates into lost profits for them, so they’re almost never going to do that.

Just from looking at the photo, I’d be surprised if the frame was bent or even if there was significant suspension damage. It looks like the hit was high up, away from the wheel, and the dent is something I could put in it with a 10lb hammer, which tells me the hit probably wasn’t very hard. So if the body shop is telling you there isn’t much damage beyond the dent, I’d tend to believe them.

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If you are concerned take it in to a reliable shop to get alignment checked, may cost a few bucks but it will ease your mind and they will note any suspension problems. You lost the hub cap also and can not really see what is going on towards the bottom of the tire. Scraped up rim?

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Just from the picture, it looks like the hit was mainly by the door and no where near the front end components. Just be nice to the body shop. You’ll probably have to pay them to get the car but they will be in the best position to go to bat for you with insurance if there are alignment problems. Gotta remember those fenders are paper thin and takes nothing to demolish them.

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Thanks, Shadowfax. I tend to agree with that approach, however I’ve been burned by mechanics and my own inexperience before so I’m cautious. I think it’s within the realm of possibility that a body shop would do quick fixes for quick dollars if the cost-benefit of time to money favored that route. Others have said as much here, so I’m covering my bases.

I haven’t experienced said vibrations, just worried that they might happen/cost me later. I have not seen the repaired car or done a test drive yet. I appreciate a more thorough approach, so it seemed odd that the car wasn’t driven at higher speeds by the mechanics. I’m glad you consider the dent to be low-energy and that you doubt the suspension was significantly damaged, that’s a relief to hear. Someone else recommended doing a test drive myself before signing or accepting the car as repaired, so I’m going to follow that advice. The other guy’s insurance company is already running me in circles about accepting liability, so I don’t want to give them any excuses. Thanks again.

I see mostly fender and a little door damage.

Good advice, thanks. The autobody shop said the alignment was within spec. Does that mean the suspension is also fine? After three hub caps bounced off from minor road bumps, I took off the last one and just went without. Happens a lot on these, apparently. I don’t remember if the rim was scraped up, might just look that way in the photo.

Yeah, hit next to the door and collapsed the fender. Ten hours of hammer and dolly or $80 for a new fender. Once you pull the fender off, any other damage will be pretty evident me thinks.

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Thanks, Bing. I’m always nice. :wink: I don’t mind paying the body shop to get the car, and they’ve been very professional with me - just somewhat defensive when I asked about specific components. They probably get annoying questions from ignorant customers all the time - but I made sure to explain I didn’t doubt their experience, just needed to go over the details. Thanks again.

That’s interesting. They ended up replacing the door. It had issues opening, or something. Total cost at $3,000.

The body shop will perform as much work as the insurance company will allow, that is how they make money. If you discover any additional needed repairs the body shop can contact the insurance company.

Didn’t you drive the car before taking it to the body shop?

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Yeah, I get that, thanks. No, it was towed to the body shop. I didn’t want to risk shaving the tire on bumps along the way. When the tow driver got it up the ramp, it lurched forward when he accelerated, which it’s never done before. Might have been him, might have been the car, I don’t know.

The body shop should make your car whole, as in pre accident condition, don’t give up!

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Unless you have liability-only insurance, what you should do is call your insurance company and let them deal with his insurance company. They’ve got more experience with it, and the other guy’s insurance knows that they will not be able to push your insurance around.

If you don’t have full coverage, then you’ll have to deal with them yourself, but if they’re “running you in circles” about whether or not their client is liable for hitting your parked vehicle then you should absolutely push back hard on that notion. My response to such BS is usually “do I need to get an attorney involved, or are you going to start taking this seriously?”

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I do not see how in the world the body shop manager can visually look at that, drive it for half a block, and pronounce that all is well underneath. I’m not and never have been a gambling man but I’d wager something in the suspension or floor plan is bent.

Has this not even been onto an alignment rack or frame machine? If not, shoddy methodogy IMO.

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Take to a good alignment shop and have it checked out.

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Those were almost my exact words. The guy tried to blame me for any delays on their end, which was bizarre. I’m glad there are pros out there to deal with that crap, it is not for me.

Thank you, that’s validating. The shop manager said their sub-contracted mechanic determined the alignment is within spec, but he didn’t think it was necessary to put it on the precision frame machine based on visual assessment. Should I ask him to put it on the frame machine to be safe? Any specific questions I should ask about what data they might get from that process? Thanks again!

You know, you should just suit yourself. You are concerned so just go ahead and do it, but then not to make you worry more but there is the CV joint, axle, and transmission. My dad got hit in the front wheel portion once (a lot worse than this) and it wasn’t too long and the trans went out. My wife was hit in a similar location on our Park Ave in the shopping center. A guy slid into her wiping the fender out and hitting the door a little too, just like yours. I needed to replace the fender and a door hinge that got bent but that was all. Don’t know why he would replace the door unless the frame where the hinges attach got bent. At any rate I never even thought to go any further because there was no evidence of any damage beyond the hinge and sheet metal. I also had a friend that got some deer damage and no matter how well and complete the repair was done he just couldn’t live with having a damaged car and traded. So go ahead and pay to have it checked out to satisfy you but it kinda sounds to me like you might be on the road to not being able to live with it and will need to trade cars.

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@e.maccratic_173204 I don’t understand why you are having conversations with the other person . There should be an adjuster to deal with if the person notified their insurance carrier or even the body shop should be dealing with the problems . There should be a period of time to solve anything that was not repaired properly after you get your vehicle back.

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