Repairs after an accident

So I got in an accident this week. Car pulled out right in front of me as I drove straight down the road. Short story, the other guy’s insurance company is taking 100% responsibility (as they darn well should.)

QUESTION: I know from past experience that damage from accidents sometimes doesn’t show up till later, even much later. And lot’s of times the car never seems to drive the same again either. SO what can I do to protect myself and make sure the repairs at the body shop don’t miss one of these things? Or am I simply “outa luck”? Can frame damage ever really be 100% corrected?

BTW- This was a mint condition 2003 VW Jetta Wagon with only 35K on it (got it just last year.) The damage is to the front (mainly passenger side), airbags deployed on passenger side but not driver side. The initial quote was $5600 for repairs (before they strip it down.)

Thanks for your reply!


The car is put on a frame straightener. This device grips the undercarriage of the car and pulls it back (nearly) where it should be. If the car does not track straight or it seems like you are moving down the road a bit sideways, the repair was done complete. You should not have to crab your way along. Insist that the unibody is straight. Maybe you could inspect it on a lift after the repair is done.

this guy who pulled out in front of you wasn’t trulyrandomhh; was it? sorry, i couldn’t resist.

anyway you are in a real quagmire.

there is always the risk that there is an underlying fault or defect in the car. hopefully the shop you go to is top notch.

do you have references, or recommendations for this shop? that would be #1 in my list of things to do. ask friends, co workers, and acquaintances for recommendations.

unfortunately your insurance co may have a list of shops you MUST take it to. that woudl stink, because usually the insurance shops use inferior body parts, and not necessarily OEM parts to repair.

Unfortunately, a badly crunched car will never quite be the same. Bent steel gets “work hardened” by the process of being bent beyond its elastic limit, and won’t straighten out completely. Things will not line up properly ever again, no matter how hard you pull on it. If your insurance company isn’t willing to total it, and insists on repair, you probably don’t have much of a choice. At the least, have a four-wheel alignment check done no more than 6 months down the road (is there a warranty of any kind on the work?).

By the way, very few cars today have separate frames and bodies. Many have a partial frame (“subframe”) to carry the drivetrain loads, but not a completely separate frame.

jstrait could insist on OEM parts. It might take the car over the limit, though I doubt a 2003 Jetta would be worth that little.