If a car owner has sustained frame damage to their vehicle, it can have a pretty big impact—both on their vehicle and their wallet. The structural frame of a vehicle acts as the source of support for the vehicle itself. After all, the frame is essentially the car’s very foundation, acting as a glue holding it together. Although it’s an expensive repair to have done once it’s happened, it can sometimes be worth it. Depending on the extent of the damage, a damaged frame can be fixed with relative ease.
Here are three facts you need to know about frame damage for your career in auto body repair.
There Are Two Common Body Types for Vehicle Frames: Ladder and Unibody
Whether a vehicle is built from a ladder frame, unibody frame, or any other type, the frame is meant to keep the car’s structural build intact. However, the two aforementioned types are the most frequently used. Ladder frames are an old-fashioned frame design, consisting of two rails connected by cross members that cover a car’s entire length. They have largely been replaced in most modern cars by unibody designs. Trucks are an exception, however, as the stronger and more robust build of a ladder frame is more truck-friendly. Conversely, unibody frames represent the union of both the frame and body of a car, and are composed of many different parts (such as the unirail, floor pan, and strut towers) that help keep it together.
How Frame Damage Impacts a Vehicle: What an Auto Body Repair Technician Needs to Know
One of the most important lessons for auto body technician training students to learn about frame damage isn’t just how it happens, but what can happen once it has. For example, if a car built on a ladder frame suffers frame damage, such damage can tend to result in the frame bending, making it difficult for the vehicle to drive normally or in a straight line. It becomes especially tricky to drive the vehicle safely or be collision-resistant in any way if it has suffered extensive damage in an accident. Common examples of frame damage include mashed frames, twisted/sagging frames, and diamond-shaped frame rails. Sway damage is another example, and can happen if part of the frame has been hit, such as if the vehicle has been T-boned.
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Damaged Frames
Repairing damage to a vehicle’s frame is entirely possible for an auto body repair technician to do, though the nature of such repairs depends on the damage sustained. If the frame has become crooked and bent, this can make repairs more complicated and may necessitate using a frame straightener to correct the issue. Other types of damage may necessitate full replacements. In these situations, you may need to fully take the vehicle apart because of the welding and cleaning processes necessary to repair the frame. How much it costs to repair damaged frames also depends on various factors, mainly the extent of the damage, and which parts of the frame have been affected.
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