If you are dealing with car frame damage, you likely have many questions, from what is considered frame damage on a car to the repair cost. Depending on the extent of the damage, the automotive frame repair cost for a car with structural damage may be high, but there are also other options available if you cannot afford the repairs or do not want to put money into your failing car.
What Is the Frame of a Car?
The vehicle frame is your car’s structural support system. Think of it as the foundation of your auto as well as a key component that protects you if a collision occurs. There are two main types of car frames — unibody car frames, which are more common, and ladder auto frames. They are also sometimes referred to as unibody vs. body on frame designs.
If you are wondering, “What are car frames made of,” the answer is usually sturdy metal, regardless of body frame types. Without going into too many details about A-frame cars, what is considered undercarriage damage on a car, the vehicle chassis, the back frame, the car’s chassis/chasis/chassie, the can frame, definition of a strut car, or the quarter panel vs. the fender, you need to understand core car support before you can understand the repair process.
Unibody Frames – What Is a Unibody?
Many of the vehicles on the market today have unibody frames. The unibody definition refers to the fact that the frame and the body are the same. In the case of damage to a unibody frame, you may notice that the frame is bent. In this case, the auto may not be able to drive straight. It may also remain weak in the damaged area following repairs.
Mechanics and automotive engineers break unibody frames up into smaller components to identify issues more easily. These include:
• Core Support or Radiator Support: This is on the front of the car and is usually bolted on. You can replace or remove it without this being classified as frame damage.
• Unirail: These are two metal beams on the back and front of the auto that are symmetrical. They are among the strongest portions of the vehicle, serving as the foundation for other parts that are welded into place.
• Strut Tower: There are four of these, usually in the auto’s four corners. They help maintain the positioning of the suspension and alignment.
• Firewall: This frame component separates the cockpit and the motor. It is part of the front unibody.
• Apron: This component has two sides and is the vehicle’s front inner fender portion. The rear car apron spans the firewall to the strut tower. The front apron goes from the strut tower to the car’s core support.
• Floor Pan: This metal sheet welds with cross members to create the auto’s floor. It features holes and grooves so it can fit the electric wiring and drivetrain.
• A, B, and C Pillars: These pillars are the auto’s vertical supports, appearing front to back in alphabetical order. As such, the C pillar car component would be near the back, while the pillar A would be near the front with the B pillar in the middle. Minivans and some other autos also have D pillars.
• Rocker Panel: There is one of these on either side of the auto, under the doors and between the wheels. These panels help align the doors when closed and provide support for them at all times.
• Quarter Panel: This metal sheet is the right and left rear panels. It typically features the gas cap and creates the wheel well. It is usually made from metal but can be carbon-fiber or fiberglass in some autos, typically sports-oriented ones.
• Rear Support: This term refers to the frame’s rear section. It usually includes a floorboard, rear bumper support, and two unirails.
The other major type of frame worth familiarizing yourself with is a ladder frame. It was the type of frame used traditionally, but now you mostly find it on trucks. This frame style is known for its strength and high resistance.
The main portion is a pair of symmetrical rails that are identical to the auto in length. Multiple cross members connect them. The drivetrain and engine go right on the frame, with the car on top, as well.
Crumple Zone Definition
You should also be aware of crumple zones. Most unibody vehicles feature these zones, which are indented parts of the frame to create a slightly wavy shape. The crumple zones are engineered so they fold in a crash to absorb the impact’s energy. If you define “crumpled,” it means the vehicle folds, either at the car’s front end, quarter panel, back bumper, or another spot. This theoretically results in less damage to the rest of the vehicle and, most importantly, a reduced risk of injury.
What Is Considered Frame Damage on a Car?
Most people use the term frame damage to refer to situations where the frame’s structural integrity is compromised. It typically happens because of some sort of outside influence, whether that is a third-party alteration or a collision.
Frame damage essentially means that key areas of your vehicle responsible for providing structural support have been compromised. Unfortunately, that means that frame damage leads to unsafe vehicles.
Can You Drive a Car with Frame Damage?
It is common to wonder whether you can drive a car that has a damaged frame. The answer is a bit complicated.
It May Function Fine
As long as the vehicle can still maintain a straight line and all of the wheels are aligned well, it will likely function fine for typical driving.
A Collision Would Be Dangerous
The problem would arise if you are in a collision when a vehicle that already has a damaged frame. At this point, whether the vehicle would still be able to protect you depends on the extent of the damaged frame.
In the case of minor damage that leaves the rails intact and the majority of the frame fine, you should not have a problem. Your crumple zones should also be fine. An example would be a small dent on something like the car’s rear quarter panel. Even so, there is no guarantee that it would be able to protect you in a collision like a new car, just a reasonable chance.
In cases where the frame damage is more severe, it is unlikely to be safe in a collision. This is particularly true if a crumple zone is already crumpled, you have a major bent car frame, or there are other alignment issues. The vehicle may not even be safe in a collision if you had those issues repaired. After all, it will be easier for it to become damaged again.
What Does an Auto Frame Repair Near Me Cost?
There is no single answer to how much it will cost to repair a damaged frame. The price depends on the extent of the damage and your vehicle. The answer to, “How much does it cost to fix or get out a car dent?” will be very different than the answer to, “How much does it cost to fix a bumper?” The answer will also be different if you’re wondering, “How much does it cost to replace a door frame?” or “How do you fix a rusted truck frame?”
The methods to repair undercarriage damage, unibody damage, truck frame welding, rust, a door frame, or a strut frame will all be different, as will their cost estimates. Some problems will require finding car frames for sale, while others will have you wondering, “How much does it cost to replace struts on a car?”
On the lower end of the scale, there are minor problems, like small dents in quarter panels. In these situations, you should expect to pay between $600 and $1,000 for the frame repair, plus more for paintwork.
But what about serious damage to the frame? This will be much more expensive. It could cost more than $10,000 easily, and that may include paintwork.
What Do Frame Repairs Cost So Much?
The high cost of frame repairs comes from their importance in the structure of your vehicle. You need the frame to be fixed well if you want your auto to drive straight and be able to protect you in a collision.
In most cases, severe damage to the frame requires the mechanics to cut off damaged parts and weld new parts into place. From there, they need to use specialized machines to stretch the auto back to its proper shape. The high bent frame damage repair cost from a car frame repair shop near me is also partly because of the expensive automobile frame machine required.
Remember that all of those frame damage repair cost quotes are just averages or estimates. To get a quote for your car’s frame damage repair, ask your automotive frame shop about the cost for a rear quarter panel repair, frame straightening, bent car frame repair, subframe repair, or rusted frame repair. You can even ask multiple car frame shops about the bent frame repair cost to give you a point of comparison. Ask, “How much does it cost to repair a radiator,” “How much to replace a car door,” “How much does it cost to fix rust on a car,” and about the front subframe replacement cost and the cost to replace car door.
Be sure to also ask, “What does repair mean?” and “What does damage mean?” when at the auto frame repair shop near me, so you can ensure your car or truck frame repairs actually lead to all damage being repaired. You can also ask, “How to fix bent metal on a car?” and “Is it legal to weld a truck frame?”
To define expensive in terms of a car damage estimate, you must find someone to perform an automotive frame straightening or a truck frame repair near me and get an estimate.
How to Check for Frame Damage – Bent Car Frame Symptoms
The best way to check for frame damage is to have a mechanic take a look at the vehicle. Auto frame shops should be able to easily spot signs of damage and take care of the necessary car frame repair near me. They will look for indications such as:
Twisted or Saggy Frames
Gaps in the body tend to show sags in the frame. If you leave this issue unattended, you should expect quicker wear on your coils and tires. Signs of this issue include instability when at high speeds and problems turning.
Sway damage tends to occur with corner hits. In this case, the car will lean toward one side and be clearly misaligned.
Mashed frames can happen in head-on or rear-end collisions. This is when the crumple zones or other areas crumple. The damage is very obvious.
When in doubt, ask an auto frame shop near me about the end frame, out of frame, car front fender, meaning of “banged up,” frame rail, damaged core, car panel and subframe, or other damage found at the rear of an automobile. The staff can tell you how much it does cost to fix a dent in a car, explain fender vs. quarter panel, and explain smart car frames. The mechanics also can define key terms for you, such as fix, dent, chassis, frame, rear, and vehicle make, so you will know what each term means and can tell if repairs are needed.
When the Cost Is Too High
Depending on your situation, you may decide that the cost of repairing the frame damage is too high. There are a few possible situations where this will occur, including:
• You cannot afford the repairs.
• You were going to upgrade the car soon anyway.
• The repairs cost more than the auto is worth.
• The car will not be safe after the repairs.
In these situations, you may want to just sell the car instead of trying to fix it or have it sit in your driveway.
Can You Sell a Car with Frame Damage?
If your car has frame damage, you can still sell it, but this will become more challenging. A junkyard may buy it for scrap metal, or a parts company may buy it for a similarly low price. You are unlikely to find a buyer who wants to drive the car or sell it in a drivable condition, as they would have to pay for the repairs. As such, you would still have to subtract the cost of repairs from your asking price. Expect your auto to lose at least 30 to 70 percent of its resale value due to the damage. This is because people know that buying a car with frame damage is a significant risk.
Keep in mind that reported frame damage is clear on auto titles. The title does not define rebuilt title or “damaged.” It also will not explain “What does damage mean,” or “What is damage?” Since it doesn’t show “What does repair mean” or the specifics of frame damage reported, most car frame shops will stay away.
We Will Buy Your Car for Cash
Instead of getting scrap metal prices for your car, sell it to us, regardless of the frame damage. We purchase your car for cash, no matter its condition or whether it is safe to drive. Our connections allow us to make repairs when possible or find usable parts in the vehicles, which we can then use ourselves or sell. Those connections let us get the most from your auto financially, regardless of its condition.
We pass those fair prices onto you in the form of competitive rates. This way, you can get a fair price for your damaged auto, with cash right away. We will pick up the auto from your address, so you do not need to drive an unsafe vehicle or pay for a tow and we cover the cost of the tow ourselves. There are no hidden fees or tricks. We just buy your car for cash, regardless of its condition.