Whether we’re shopping for a used car or have had an accident, we’ve been conditioned to ask the question, “Is there any frame damage?”  It’s an excellent question to ask, frame damage can “make or break” whether or not a car is worth the price or salvageable.  Some cars with this type of structural flaw may not be able to be insured, so it’s vital to investigate the frame.  

The main job of your car’s frame is safety; it is there to keep you and your passengers from as much harm as possible.  Most cars now are built with unibody construction, one piece of metal that makes up the “bones” of the car.  Examples of vehicle components which are part of the body or frame include suspension mounting, lower and upper frame rails, and for unibody vehicles, the A, B and C pillars, windshield, rear window frame and rocker panels.  Anything bolted to it is not considered part of the structure.

Frame damage can occurs when there is a collision; even a minor accident can have an effect on the underlying structure.  When a car is hit at a crucial part of its structure, it can cause bending, shifting, cracking or other damage. Also be aware of a ripple effect, when even minor damage to one part of the body leads to damage and weakening in other areas.

Most car purchases, especially transactions at reputable dealers, will have a CarFax history report.  Accidents are reported and repairs/results are listed with a nation-wide database so each car has it’s own story.  In case you are dealing with a less than reputable dealership, check for some of the signs for a car that has repair done to the frame.  Clamp marks on the frame, replacement doors, trunk, or hood, welding marks under the hood, doors and windows that don’t close properly, or inconsistent or rough paint.  In any case, to be safe, you can take the car to a mechanic or body shop to have it properly inspected.  Because your vehicle is an investment, it’s always wise to do some research.