Automotive damage following an accident typically falls into a handful of broad categories. You might know that frame damage is among the more costly issues you'll face after an accident, but "bent frames" can be a misnomer with newer cars. The difference comes down to structural design, with most modern vehicles using unibody construction instead of body-on-frame.
Unibody designs are drastically different from older body-on-frame vehicles, and the techniques used to repair them are much different. Keep reading to learn three facts about unibody construction that will prepare you to deal with severe accidents in your car.
1. You Probably Have a Unibody Vehicle
Unibody design is ubiquitous in the modern automotive industry. Most pickup truck manufacturers still use body-on-frame structures for added strength when towing, but nearly all other vehicles use unibody construction. In the United States, Ford's Panther platform was the last holdout for traditional body-on-frame design in passenger vehicles.
Keep in mind that many SUVs in the United States use car-based platforms, so SUVs typically also use unibody structures. In general, only a small number of SUVs still use body-on-frame construction, so most examples on the road are better described as unibody crossovers. You probably have a unibody vehicle if your SUV isn't on this relatively exclusive list.
2. Your Body and Frame Aren't Separate
Unibody vehicles don't consist of the independent body and sled-like frame you would find on a body-on-frame vehicle. Instead, the entire underlying structure of your car acts as the structural frame. This design has numerous advantages, including lower cost and lighter weight when compared to heavy steel frames.
Unfortunately, the drawback to unibody vehicles is that nearly any accident can cause frame damage. Relatively minor impacts can alter the structure of your car, leading to alignment issues, tire wear problems, or even reducing safety in future accidents. As a result, it's essential to have unibody cars examined by auto body specialists following most accidents.
3. You Can Repair Even Severe Unibody Damage
You might think that a car with a visibly warped and bent frame is beyond saving, but most skilled shops can repair even severe unibody damage. Modern techniques involve pulling the frame back in shape while using a system of lasers and computer calculations to measure frame deflection and return it to factory specifications.
Depending on the severity of the damage, the auto body shop may also need to cut out and weld sections of the structure. This work can potentially increase the cost but won't prevent you from returning your car to its factory specifications. In all but the worst cases, a skilled and experienced shop with the right equipment can usually restore any damage to a unibody automobile.
For more information on auto body repair, contact a company near you.