Trusting A Mechanic's Evaluations

I recently got into a fender bender with a lexus minivan. She told me the “mechanic” who looked at it said the axle was messed up, but I only rear-ended her going 10 mph at an intersection when she stopped quickly. Her bumper was scratched up, and the tailpipe was slightly bent; but everything was still intact and the airbags didn’t go off- the bumper wasn’t even cracked and she drove away after we exchanged info. My car had more damage, being lower, but only to the bumper and hood. Is it even possible that I messed up her axle or is someone pulling my leg?

If you have insurance, use them and let them figure it out. I certainly hope you have liability insurance, as it is law in most states. This is a classic case of when you should let the insurance handle it: when you have a party in the accident claiming questionable damage. The insurance companies have experts on hand to determine what is kosher.

However, to answer your question, ‘Yes’. A 10 mph hit is enough to cause a shock that can mess up drivetrain components. Today’s cars only have to resist a 2.5 mph accident with no damage to pass Federal collision requirements. If she hears noises from the rear axle after the accident, it is possible the accident ‘tweaked’ something in the rear axle.

Use your insurance.

How likely is it that it did though? I was literally going 5-10 mph tops.

This is what insurance is for. Let them handle it. You shouldn’t be talking to the person you rear-ended. You could complicate the situation, and make things worse for yourself, by talking to her.

Let your insurance company do the talking.

10 mph is faster than you think. You can do a lot of damage at 10 mph.

Your car may have had more “visible” damage, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to “cost-to-repair” damage.

Stay out of this and stop worrying about it. Let your insurance company handle it. That’s what you’re paying for.

How much does your car weigh? 4000 pounds going at 5 to 10 MPH is a lot of force.

First off, airbags are not supposed to go off in a rear end collision.

Secondly,everything has been shoved forward probably two or three inches.

That said, I think it is unlikely that the rear axle was bent. It might have been bumped by the exhaust as it bent, but it seems doubtful that that could have bent the axle. Scratched it maybe…

IF you don’t have insurance, or see some need to pay for this out of pocket like a lousy driving record, you might insist on having YOUR body shop look at it. IF insurance will cover it, let them.

My car is a tiny hyundai elantra hatch-back.

Body shops work on axles? Learn something every day.

They do, as badly as they reconnect anything electrical and replace missing air dams.


Tell her you want a second opinion from another shop.
Give her the phone number to a Lexus dealer near your place, and pay to have it inspected.

I’m guessing you either don’t have insurance, or you have had lots of previous accidents, and are going to have even higher rates if you have another one reported. Well, I’m sorry you’re in the situation you are in.


Actually the bags on HER car (the OP’s) could go off if she had been going fast enough, which I think is what she was referring to.

You rear-ended her. Either take her word for it or get your insurance company involved. You are in no position to insist on a second opinion. You have already inconvenienced the victim enough.

If Bladecutter is right, and you either don’t have insurance or have had a lot of accidents, please consider doing the world a favor and stop driving on public roads. If Bladecutter is wrong, you have no reason not to let your insurance company handle this. That is what insurance is for.

You didn’t give the year, but it’s going to be somewhere around 2,560 pounds.
I still say that 2500+ pounds moving at 5 to 10 MPH is a lot of force.

Did she quote a dollar figure? She probably would have gotten an estimate from the mechanic. Ask for his contact information and call him up. Once you’re satisfied, ask that the mechanic’s bill be sent to you. Pay up front if necessary, but pay the mechanic only.

Maybe the mechanic is her brother.

Just what is your insurance situation?

Sure its possible to damage an axle assy even in a low speed impact. Damage to the cv joints. She was stopped when you struck her vehicle. Do you know if her vehicle is FWD or AWD?? To the other poster, body shops replace axle assys all day long.

Like the other posters said, let the insurance handle it.


Agreed with the other posts–let insurance deal with it.
As for your assertions, the airbag would not go off. Also, you have absolutely no idea what happened to the bumper, as all you can see is the plastic bumper cover. The bumper and the impact absorbing material are concealed. I was rear ended, 15-20 MPH last year, $3000 in mostly concealed damage to my Mazda, and almost a year of constant neck problems since.

This is one of those situations you need to get your insurance company involved. You can’t force her to get a second opinion. If she’s being amicable, you can ask her as politely as possible but that’s about it. Vehicles aren’t nearly as rigid as they used to be, even a minor fender bender can total a car. One of my friend’s minivan (a fairly new Pontiac Montana) was totaled by his insurance company for a bent frame caused by an accident in a parking lot.

In all honesty, if it was my minivan that was hit, I’d feel like I was doing you a favor and was taking a considerable risk by going to my mechanic and bypassing insurance. I would be very angry if I was accused of milking the bill or was asked to get another opinion. I would immediately report it to my insurance company and file a police report, as it is a good indication I was hit by someone w/out insurance.

This kind of stuff happens all the time. Someone w/out insurance or a marginal record gets into an accident and begs the victim to not report it to insurance because “it looks minor”. It turns out to require $2,000 worth of repairs and the accident causer-balks and accuses the victim of trying to scam him.