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How safe is a repaired frame if involved in another wreck?

Our 2009 Honda Pilot was hit from the rear by another SUV that was probably going approx. 70 mph. Our vehicle was coming to a stop at the time that it was hit and we were probably going 20-30 mph. We have been told that our vehicle’s frame had damage and that it has been repaired/straightened by a professional frame shop. Still, I am concerned about keeping the vehicle because we have 4 children and are constantly on the road. One of our children goes to school 2 hrs away, so we make frequent long-distance trips via interstate highway. I am wondering how safe the Pilot is should we keep it and then get into another wreck. How would the repaired frame hold up in another collision? Thanks.

It depends on who did the body repair and if it was done correctly.

The Honda Pilot doesn’t have a traditional frame. But is a unibody construction. Which means the body construction is the frame. Unibody construction has what are called crush or crumple zones. These are areas built into the unibody that allows energy to be absorb in the event of an accident to protect the passengers. Once these crumple zones are used, there’s no way to repair the unibody back to the point where the crumple zones will react exactly the same way in the event of the same type of accident.

The speeds you indicate is as if the Pilot was hit at a speed of 40-50 MPH. And I’m surpised the vehicle wasn’t totalled.

If you want to make sure the vehicle is safe for you and your kids, take it to another body shop. And ask them to check for any collision damage because you’re thinking about purchasing the vehicle.


Tester is (of course) absolutely right. It all depends on how it was fixed.

To add to Tester’s excellent advice, I want to add something that may help the OP to visualize the repair of a unitized body:

Take an aluminum soda can, and crush it slightly with your hands.
Now, try to stretch it back to its original shape.
If you can’t make it conform to its original shape, just imagine how difficult it is to stretch/smooth/repair the vehicle’s underlying unibody structure to its original condition.

With a lot of brute force from chassis-straightening machines, it is very possible that this vehicle will look “okay” to the naked eye, and it is possible that it may even drive satisfactorily after being stretched/repaired. However, I personally would never trust that the vehicle would be able to react as originally designed in the event of a second collision.

A pilot is pretty sturdy compared to most new cars. If all your doors opened/ closed fine before it was repaired than I can pretty much say the damage to body was not bad. If rear hatch/doors had been hit so hard as to seriously damage body structure, than vehicle would have been totaled.

The best way to judge the quality of the repair is to carefully examine the alignment each door, the hood, and tailgate. Look at the gaps and they should be the same at the top and bottom of each door for example. Everything should operate smoothly on the hinges and latch easily and securely. Rattles that you hear now, but didn’t hear before is another sign of a deeper problem.

If the gaps look good, there are no new rattles, and the car drives as before the accident the repair could be just fine. However the paint will never be as good on the repaired and repainted areas as the original factory paint. One of the first areas to show paint problems is the plastic bumpers, especially under the rear lift gate on this car.

I’m not sure how long you planned to keep the car before the accident. You might consider trading it in a few years earlier if you don’t like and trust the car after the accident. As far as safety, the car is about the same as before. There are so many accident “types” that I don’t see the car as seriously deficient in protecting the occupants in the event of an accident.

The 1/4 panel is part of the “frame” on a uni-body vehicle… these get replaced all the time, and if done right it will be no issue. If it was your floor pan that was fixed it maybe different. The worst case is if the roof buckled, if it did then that is the worst damage that could have had happened.

Even if the fix restores the car to a safe condition, there is no way of making sure the steering and alignment will be as good as new. We get many posts about cars with unibodies that have been “fixed” but do not steer straight and have uneven tire wear.

Pay attention to how the Pilot handles when it is returned to you. If it seems to be going a little off center down the road (called crabbing), you need to return it to the shop immediately. There is no reason to accept a partially repaired Pilot.

To check for “crabbing” just throw a bucket of water down on a parking lot. Drive straight through the water and make sure the back tires go over the front tire tracks. If the back tire tracks are to the right or left of the front tracks…back to the shop she goes.

my wife put her car in the ditch before. it was fixed at a local frame repair shop. they straightened and fixed the frame on a unibody vehicle. the repair was great we had the car for an additional 6 years and never had a issue with it and it even tracked straight after that. so i would say you are fine. but if you are worried about it get a second opinion

It’s All Relative.
I’m Not Familiar With Honda Pilots (No Honda Dealer Within 100+ Miles), But If I Drove One Of These Vehicles I’d Probably Be More Concerned About A Possible Roll-Over Than Rear-End Collision Repairs Gone Awry.

I believe the IINHS rated this model/model-year only a “marginal” rating for roof strength (and that’s if it’s brand new, roof never repaired). This roof rating was improved to “Good” on newer model-years.

SUVs out on the open road have been known to test their roofs’ strength more often than passenger car sedans.


“Even if the fix restores the car to a safe condition, there is no way of making sure the steering and alignment will be as good as new.”

Sort of:

Manufacturers publish specifications that a quality body/collision shop can use to assure that the body/frame is aligned correctly. Many measurements taken, include “X” measures from vehicle corner to vehicle corner, taken at exact locations on vehicle components. I suppose that a not-so-quality shop could just eye-ball everything.

When repairs such as this are done, the quality of the shop, equipment and expertise must be verified and is something the car owner can shop for before authorizing repairs. Not all shops are the same. Some can’t even afford the body alignment equipment that a top drawer shop utilizes. Reminds me of checking out a medical facility and doctors prior to important surgery.

Although many insurance companies will suggest repair shops or “steer” owners to them (It has to do with pay-outs and saving money), the car owner chooses the shop and authorizes repairs.


If u would have rear ended Someone with a 40 mph differential than ur car would be in the junkyard. The front is designed to crumple and there are many more expensive parts up there to triple the repair cost compared to getting hit in the rear. I would bet the other car slid under the pilot bumper and caused minimal damage. What was the total bill? 3800? Aww, that’s just a new bumper and paint.

@KAD29070, was the car repaired according to Honda body repair guidelines?

As you probably guess by now, it’s impossible to really guess without a lot more detail about the damage and the repair. Metal once bent can be returned to strait, but that metal will not have the strength of new metal. However, “clips” are often used in leiu of straightening tables to repair major damage and doen properly that should be as strong as new.

If you’re concerned about the safety of your family it might be worth it to trade the vehicle just for the peace of mind. I applaud your sense of priorities.

No car is safe in a wreck, but your’s should be as safe as any.