The frame of your vehicle is the hard metal skeleton that is meant to protect passengers in the event of a crash. If the frame in your vehicle is damaged, you and your family will be at a much greater risk of injury if you are involved in an accident. Here are three signs that can indicate a bent frame when you are buying a used vehicle or inspecting your current vehicle after a collision.
Visible Damage Under the Vehicle
Part of the metal frame of your vehicle will be visible under your car around the edges of the chassis. You may be able to detect damage on your own by lying under your car or truck and inspecting the frame with a flashlight. If you see any obvious bends in the frame, you should suspect that the vehicle is not safe to drive.
In addition to bends in the frame, strange discolorations or scuff marks on the frame could mean that someone attempted to repair the frame. Even if the frame is bent back into place, it will not provide sufficient protection in a collision. A frame that has already been bent will crumple more quickly the next time a collision occurs, often too quickly for the airbag to deploy in time to prevent injury.
Doors Do Not Shut Correctly
Any warping of a vehicle's frame will be reflected in the alignment of the rest of the auto body. If your doors are difficult to shut and there is no apparent damage to the doors or door latches, a bent frame might be to blame. In more severe cases, warping of the frame can cause the interior door panels to lift away from the doors or even prevent the doors from closing at all.
Wheels Are Impossible to Realign
A vehicle with a bent frame will never be able to maintain proper alignment. If you detect that your vehicle is pulling to one side when you aren't moving the wheel, you should visit an auto shop for a realignment. If the mechanic is unable to properly align the wheels, or if you still feel your vehicle pulling when you leave the auto shop, you should have a mechanic examine your vehicle again to determine the condition of the frame.
Knowing the signs of a vehicle with a bent frame will help you avoid buying a vehicle that is unsafe to drive and help you get your vehicle to the shop before a serious accident occurs.