Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Strange structural problem in repaired Prius

This 2015 Prius with only 2,000 miles on it was repaired after a big front end collision. It seems to run and handle fine. But checking the front wheels, one is 3/4" further forward than the other.

If the structural repairs are solid and correct except for this asymmetry, is it possible this will not cause serious problems in the future? I am thinking problems with turning at high speed, extra wear on the transmission/differential/axle, tire wear, and other things like that.

If in fact one wheel is farther forward/backward from the other, I would hardly call the repair correct. I would get that car back to the body shop that did the so called repair corrected.


I gotta agree with @PvtPublic that’s not right. I would be shocked if Toyota’s specs for repaired cars allows that much variation.

If its any consolation even “straight” car right off the showroom floor can vary by 1/2 inch in wheelbase with no ill affects at all. My Saturn race car was off that far. Once I squared it up, the handling was a tiny bit better but I was racing the thing and I was looking for every advantage.

If the alignment is correct and the car tracks straight there won’t be any additional tire wear, differential wear or high speed issues.

1 Like

Agree that it is NOT right – but are you sure it’s the wheels that are not true? If you have measured from, say, the front of each wheel well to the corresponding tire, then it might be the body parts that are not straight, rather than the wheels.

Mis-aligned body parts would probably not be a handling or safety or wear issue, but I would be inclined to make the body shop re-do it.

How did you determine the 3/4 inch difference ? You need to contact the repair shop as soon as possible and post their reply.

Thanks! That is exactly the info I was looking for. (Since it’s not my car but one I am considering buying I don’t have the option of having the work redone properly.)

“The car tracks straight” means that on level ground with hands off the wheel the car will not drift or pull left or right? How far should the car be able to go at what speed without drifting?

If I were in this situation, I certainly wouldn’t buy this car. I suspect many others will be along to say the same thing shortly.


Read the post by (lion9car) twice and then look for a vehicle that you don’t have questions about.

Thanks for your reply. It is helpful.

I measured the distance from the tire to the rear side of the wheel well on both sides. The repair work was done on the frame forward of the rear wheel well on the passenger side. That wheel is much closer to the well (there is still just over 3" of space.)

I did not have the work done myself, it is past work done on a car I am considering buying, so contacting the shop is not an option.

That means nothing about body alignment. Tire wear difference and repaired body parts could make the two sides have difference that would effect nothing about the vehicle operation. This vehicle does not have a frame.
And why would you want a year old car that has you worried before you even buy it?


That makes sense. I don’t think the wheel well was repaired and both tires have the same wear… also it was a mechanic who told me about the positive setback… but he might not have done a proper measurement of it either.

To see if there is or is not a problem I can take it to a tire shop for a full alignment and also see if they can tell if there is a setback.

The reason I am considering buying it is that it is a 2015 Prius with only 1800 miles on it for $11,750.00 (with a six month warranty from the seller that is himself a mechanic) and it looks and drives very well, and a mechanic did not find any other problems with it besides the (possible) positive setback.

Two comments about the “six month warranty”: (1) I think a 2105 Prius with 1,800 miles would still have 2 years/28,200 miles remaining on the manufacturer’s warranty. (2) A warranty is only as good as the organization standing behind it. Although the price looks really good, I’m not terribly trusting of the mechanic who is selling this car.

Having said this, there are other issues to consider in a vehicle repair. For example, I was rear ended in my 2005 Prius. I could barely see the imprint of the other car’s license plate on my bumper. But it crushed the foam inside the bumper, thus reducing the safety of the car. That cannot be seen without removing the rear bumper.

I think you’re right to be a little nervous about this car.

1 Like

@rplantz: Yes that makes sense. A written warranty isn’t much comfort. And that’s a good point that the front bumper or other safety features may be compromised.

Measure from the rear of the front driver side wheel rim (not tire) to the front of the rear driver side wheel rim.
Repeat the process on the passenger side.
Compare the two measurements. They should be pretty close to one another.

1 Like

That’s all I’d have to hear. Next…


@ok4450: will do that

On flat ground, ideally, forever at any speed. In reality, as long as there is not a persistent pull to one side or another of a flat road and anyone following you doesn’t visually observe the car travelling a bit sideways, or dog-tracking, it should be OK.

But unless the price is really good, I’d steer clear of this repaired Prius.

1 Like

It’s unclear to my pin-head brain whether the problem is that the front wheels are skewed compared to the rear wheels, or that the front wheels and rear wheels are ok w/respect to each other, but the front wheels are skewed compared to the front parts of the body. OP, please clarify.

My vote is with TwinTurbo… :wink:

I have bought used cars all my life, quite a few. I have never knowingly bought a car that had been in an accident. Only once I found out after buying the car that the front bumper had been repaired. It was still a minor accident w/o any structural damage. There are plenty of used cars. You can buy one with a bit more mileage or a bit older. I think this car is going to be a waste of time and money.