Mysterious Bent Frame (No Accident, One Owner)

chrysler
wheels
subframes

#1

Hello all -

I reguarly pass by the Good News Garage with the vehicle in question, so thought this would be a great place to post. We have a Chrysler Town and Country that is used as a company car. I’m the only person who uses the vehicle regularly, and I’ve not been in any accidents / collisions / metal crunching indicents. We brought it to the dealer because there was increased road noise coming out of the driver’s side rear door.

The shop indicates that the frame is significantly bent, to the point where it’s causing the door to be out of alignment (thus not forming a complete seal + letting road noise in). The shop said it was perfectly drivable. Over the past two months, presumably the issue has gotten worse as the same door now gets slightly “jammed” into position.

There are three running theories at the office:

1. In one of the very rare circumstances someone else has used the car, they banged it up and didn’t tell anyone. We’ve interrogated the computer, no accident codes, etc. This is also likely to not be the case as the problem has gotten worse when ONLY I have driven the vehicle (and unless I got hit on the head, can verify that there have been no accidents).

2. The vehicle is parked in a rear alley parking spot, which requires traversing a very small curb (1/2 inch above regular pavement). Imagine driving down a very narrow alley (1 inch of clearance on either side) and having to turn left into a parking spot (I’ll try to upload an image). Done perfectly, the wheels hit at a 45 degree angle. Done imperfectly, the sidewall rubs a bit. The sidewall rubbing doesn’t occur nearly enough to produce any sidewall ware, thus safe to assume that the tires hit at 45 degrees most times. Speed of entrance is usually sub 15 MPH.

3. Aliens.

Ok guys, what are we thinking here? Sneaky accident, weird driveway, or aliens? Image of the driveway below (from direction of travel, would make a left hand turn to get in).


#2

It’s hard to imagine the frame getting bent that much without an accident of some kind involved. The only other things I can think of that could cause it are

  • it was bent that way when the car was purchased new
  • a really old car could start to droop a bit here and there and cause it
  • door hinges can rust and allow the door to drop and then not fit in the opening

My guess is #1 , a prior accident did it


#3

George -

Thanks. We bought the car new, off of the lot. No accident codes and no body damage since we’ve had it. Thoughts?


#4

Frame damage ? 1 inch clearance on each side ? Me thinks Troll.


#5

Alas! As any of my fellow Bostonians can attest, our Public Alleys can be as narrow as about 8 feet in certain spots. The narrowest part right outside of the entrance to our office parking lot is about 9 feet - so you’re right, “inches” on either side is more accurate.

We’re also the only neighborhood in Boston with a custom (smaller) fire truck!


#6

This happened to a co-worker.

Bought a brand new VW.

From day one, there was a problem with the steering/tracking. And after bringing it to the dealer several times for the problem, they brought it to a body shop.

The body shop discovered that the uni-body was bent from the vehicle being tied down too tightly during its shipment.

They got their money back.

Tester


#7

Tester - AWESOME.

All - To put the theory of a “sneaky accident” to bed. The chances of an accident severe enough to bend the frame, but not severe enough to cause any body damage are close to zero correct?


#8

Pictures of the damage would help. A picture of the parking area? No. You told us more about the parking lot than the vehicle. What year is the vehicle and how many miles?

Your collisions are recorded in code form? I don’t know what that means.

It is unclear if the door frame is bent, one of the roller channels or the vehicle chassis. Is the work order from this visit poorly documented? Can you tell us what the service department wrote?


#9

Hey Nevada,

It’s a 2015 Chrysler Town and Country with 18.5k miles on it. There’s zero visible damage, the only issue is that the driver side sliding door is getting jammed, and the interior box for the fold flat seat is warped, leading the dealer to check the frame and deem it bent. Once again, no damage visible. The door being out of alignment is difficult to photograph, but if there’s anything I can take a picture of to help just let me know.

By accident codes on the computer, referring to the event data recorder accessed via the OBD port. No events recorded, but that’s second hand from the dealership repair facility.


#10

This van has a unibody - no frame. I have seen carhauler load a vehicle on split ramps, Tilt the ramps up in the middle, tighten the chains as tight as they can get them and then drop the ramps level to get the load down to height. That will bend anything. If the dealer doesn’t spot it before it is signed for, he is stuck with the car. What do you think he is going to do with it?


#11

Thanks oldtimer! Any way to prove this to the dealer? He response we got from them was “there must have been an accident” and a shrug when we pointed out that there never was any body damage or history of collision.


#12

The dealer has 30 days to file a transportation damage claim with the transportation company, after that it is the dealers problem. A dealer might accept responsibility for damage found a short time after the sale but not 2 1/2 years later.

The dealers Starscan diagnostic tool does not have access to crash data in the Passive Restraint module, the lack of useful information does not prove anything.

While you say there is no damage, I suspect the technician spotted the damage under the vehicle to determine there is structural damage and that he couldn’t adjust the door to correct the problem. The Stow-N-Go storage wells are low and can be damaged by driving over debris, parking lot islands, etc.

Have this inspected by a body shop, maybe you will get a more thorough explanation.


#13

I agree, this is the best thing to do at this point.


#14

2nd opinion!!!


#15

I’m with Tester. Our 86 Park Ave required a 4 wheel alignment right off the transport. Just take a look and how those cars bounce around when being trailered. OTOH you don’t know what happened to it before you got it either unless you watched it being unloaded. Should be a warranty issue but they’re going to fight like crazy saying it’s abuse.


#16

@Bing @Nevada_545 @Oldtimer - That all lines up well with our suspicion. Two questions:

  1. The bent unibody presumably got worse over the 15k miles to start showing the small “symptoms” like the warped seating well and jammed door. Is that consistent with dealer / delivery damage that was slowly exacerbated by 15k of stress? Just as a bent / stressed piece of metal warps with less force than an unbent piece of metal, I’d imagine this to be the case but wanted to get your take.

  2. Is there anything specific we should ask the bodyshop to look for that would indicate delivery damage / dealer damage versus user damage? For instance, rust / warping at the place where the chain would be attached on the car hauler? There’s no visible damage to the underbody (without putting it on a lift of course) and no known history of running over a curb etc. Essentially, anything we can use to understand the origin of the damage?

Thanks again all!


#17

This one is a good mystery. GSJ is right. Any experienced body shop worker can look at a car crashed hard enough to bend it significantly and tell if it has been repaired, so I think “mystery crash secretly repaired” can be eliminated by the right person. The van is for sure a unibody, but the term “Subframe” is used in discussing unibody vehicles, so I am not sure anyone is trying to be overly untruthful or tricky in using that term. Let us know the final outcome if you ever figure it out. “Company car” means lease, so it will go way eventually.


#18

Goreham - Worse! It’s an R+D vehicle that we use for sensor testing (NOTHING to do with the structural elements of the car) so we own it outright.

The hypothesis of “mystery crash” was that an employee used the vehicle, hit something, but didn’t report the accident. There’s no suspicion it was secretly repaired. The real question (with that hypothesis) was:

“is there any type of accident that’s not severe enough to cause ANY visible exterior damage, but could lead to significant unibody damage”


#19

Also, the number of employees authorized to drive it (key is kept locked up etc.) can be counted on one hand, and no one reports any accidents / running over anything.


#20

Also, wouldn’t this have been a PERFECT call in to the show? Oh well.