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Considering Becoming a Collision Estimator? Here's What You Need to Know About Damage from Side Impact Crashes

Accidents happen, and in the automotive world, no one knows this better than a collision estimator. After an accident, collision estimators inspect a vehicle to determine the extent of the damage undergone. Based on these damages, they calculate the repair costs and determine whether the vehicle or vehicle part can be repaired, or if the accident has totaled the car. 

Collision estimators have experience examining vehicles damaged in a number of different kinds of accidents and scenarios, which includes side-impact crashes. Side-impact crashes are one of the most common types of collisions, making up about one quarter of all accidents. So what is a side-impact crash, and what kind of damage can it inflict on a vehicle? If you want to become a collision estimator, here’s what you need to know.

Side-Impact Crashes Explained for Those in Auto Body Estimator Training

Also known as “T-bone” collisions, a side-impact crash is an accident that happens when the front end of one vehicle hits another vehicle’s side. The severity of these crashes depends on the speed of the vehicle coming into contact with the vehicle’s side. Often, these accidents occur at intersections, and may be caused by one vehicle running a red light, not yielding to oncoming vehicles, or in more minor cases, switching lanes or merging into traffic. Adverse driving conditions can increase the chances of a side-impact collision occurring, as vehicles may be unable to slow or stop due to icy or wet roads. After a side-impact crash, those with auto body estimator training work to determine how much damage has been caused to the vehicles involved.

Damage to a vehicle’s doors is common in side-impact crashes

How Side-Impact Crashes Cause Damage to a Vehicle

The damages caused by side-impact crashes can vary, from cosmetic damages to more serious issues that require significant repairs or even the replacement of a vehicle. As a collision estimator, here are some potential things to look for after a vehicle has been in a side-impact crash.

  • Damage to the Frame: This is important for those in auto careers to look out for, as this is one of the most serious forms of damage. A bent frame can reduce a vehicle’s ability to handle turns or maintain high speeds, and lessen a vehicle’s ability to protect passengers or absorb shock. A bent or twisted frame can sometimes be straightened, but may require replacement in certain sections.
  • Bent Wheels: A side-impact collision can cause bends or buckling in a vehicle’s wheels. These bends may be more subtle, identified by problems later on, such as vibrations in the steering wheel or a vehicle’s tendency to go to one side. Subtle bends can be repaired with wheel straightening tools, and in more serious cases, wheel damage is identified right away as the wheels will stand at an angle.
  • Door Damage: Because of the impact to a vehicle’s side, side-impact crashes often leave vehicles with bent or crumpled door panels. If the doors are not aligned, they will not close properly or may not open, reducing their ability to provide proper protection for a vehicle’s passengers. In more serious cases, the entire door or doors of a vehicle may need replacement.
  • Cosmetic Damages: These include broken glass, which is likely to come from headlights, taillights, or side windows that have shattered as a result of the impact, and surface dents, which can be repaired or smoothed out by an auto body technician. 

How Much Can a Side-Impact Crash Cost?

As a collision estimator, this is a question that you’ll be answering, both for insurance companies and concerned vehicle owners. Side-impact crashes can be severe, and it’s important to identify when a vehicle must be replaced or when extensive repairs are required. While side-impact crashes can cost insurance companies and vehicle owners a great deal, it’s important to ensure that all the necessary repairs are undertaken so that drivers can stay protected on the roads in a vehicle that’s safe to drive.

Are you ready to begin your collision estimator training?

Explore your program options at ATC Surrey today. 

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