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Road collisions and other impact-related accidents can result in a bent truck frame. If the extent of the bend is too great, it can hinder your vehicle useless. As such, you might be wondering—can a bent truck frame be repaired or not?
Fortunately for most truck owners, a bent truck frame can be fixed by an exceptionally trained mechanic who has the right set of tools. Most repair technicians also use frame machines and hydraulic rams to put the damaged frame back into its original shape.
On average, frame straightening for damaged trucks can cost anywhere between $800 to $1,200. This price varies depending on the severity of the bend and the total amount of time it would take to repair it.
Lucky for you, if it’s only a dent, you can fix that in your own garage with minimal costs. Get the Gliston Auto Dent Puller Kit for simple dent repairs.
How to Tell if Frame is Bent on Truck
If your truck is recently involved in a collision or any impact-related accidents, you need to assess the extent of damage immediately. You can do this through ocular inspection, which consists of checking the exterior and interior of your car.
1. Walk around your car and look for any creases, cracks, and signs of rust in your car’s frame or exterior. Then, go under your truck and search for any signs of damage on the car’s bottom. If your vehicle seems to be pulling in one direction, then it’s a sign that the frame was bent during the collision.
2. When driving, try to listen to any squeaking, creaking, or any unusual noises. Note that these noises can come from the front, rear, and either side of your vehicle. If you notice any suspicious sounds, get your vehicle’s frame checked at your local auto body shop.
3. Another way you can tell a potential bend in your car is when you are driving straight, your car might weave a bit. Collisions can cause a misalignment in your car’s suspension and affect your driving experience and safety.
4. Look for other issues that may affect your driving. A bent truck can also cause your wheels to track poorly. When this happens, you can feel your car moving diagonally, instead of forward.
If you suspect that parts of your frame suffered a bend during a recent collision, its best to have it checked at your local workshop, some companies even have ultrasound equipment to make a diagnosis and determine the extent of the damage.
RELATED: Do All Pickup Trucks Have Hitches?
Three Types of Frame Damage
If you suspect that there is a bend in your frame, it’s best to take your vehicle to an auto frame shop right away. A mechanic can tell you some of the early signs of car frame damage and how such problems can be fixed for a reasonable fee.
Below are the three types of damage that your frame might have:
1. Sway Damage
This frame damage tends to occur when the vehicle is hit in the corner. The collision can cause some misalignment, wherein your car will lean toward one side. You can use a Belltech Anti-Swaybar once all that is squared away.
2. Saggy or Twisted Frames
If your vehicle has been hit pretty hard, it can cause some gaps in the body to sag. If left unattended, it can wear the car’s tires and coils much quicker. Some of the signs to look out for are difficulty in turning and instability when you’re hitting high speeds.
3. Mashed Frames
This type of damage can happen on rear-end or head-on collisions; wherein the crumple zones collapse on itself. Most of the time, the cost will be pronounced because of the extent of the damage. Mechanics may even recommend replacing the damaged parts for new ones.
Aside from these significant type of frame damages, collisions can also cause some severe problems in other parts such as:
- Car front bender
- Frame rail
- Car panel
- Vehicle’s core
Your auto body shop can also recommend whether the damage can be fixed or if the vehicle needs to be totaled. There are also instances that the cost of repair is too high, that it’s more practical to buy a new unit.
Some of the obvious reasons that you would make you shy away from repairing a bent truck frame are:
- The cost to repair the vehicle is worth more than the car itself
- You do not have the money for the repairs
- The car might not be as safe after it’s been fixed
- You were going to upgrade to a new car soon
For more information about basic car repairs, check out Auto Repair for Dummies.
Ladder Frame vs. Unibody Construction
Your car has its skeletal system known as the frame, which supports helps maintain its shape and structure. Most vehicles in the US are built using a unibody or a ladder frame (a.k.a. body-on-frame) construction design.
Ladder Frame Construction
The ladder frame is one of the oldest design structures for vehicles. The core structure is usually made by two symmetrical rails that have the same length as your vehicle and are connected through several crossed sections.
As such, this layout allowed the chassis and the body to be separated. As such, car manufacturers could experiment with different body designs without the need to alter the whole vehicle. Because of its rigidity and better resistance to twisting forces, the ladder frame is best suited off-road vehicles like pickups and SUVs.
Most trucks on the market also have this type of frame because it’s much cheaper to build and repair. However, these frames are also less safe since they often don’t have crumple zones that absorb the impact of a collision. Because they are slightly more substantial, they can also affect your vehicle’s fuel economy.
On the other hand, unibody construction utilizes a single welded integral unit with different replaceable parts. Unibody frames also have crumple zones, which collapse on itself whenever the vehicle collides with another car or object. This design allows improves the safety of the car’s passenger since it absorbs much of the force away from where they are seated.
Usually, the areas that receive a lot of damage for vehicles with the unibody design are the bumpers. You can also fix that in the comfort of your own home. Get the BELEY Car Bumper Repair Kit for that.
Nowadays, cars that use unibody construction are more common than those which are built on a ladder-on-frame layout. Generally, they are considered much safer than body-on-frame vehicles. Additionally, thanks to its lower center of gravity, these vehicles also offer a smoother ride and have lower chances of rollovers.
However, unibody construction also has a few disadvantages, such as it’s poor handling of twisting forces. Hence, these vehicles tend to tow lighter loads compared to body-on-frame cars. They are also more expensive to repair, since damaging one part of the frame tends to harm the other sections of the vehicle as well.
Aside from these two, there are also other types of frame for vehicles such as:
- Backbone tube
- Platform frame
- Perimeter frame
- Space frame
When buying a pickup truck, you must know what type of frame your target vehicle uses. Aside from driving performance, it can also affect things such as safety and repair costs. You should also first consider how you would use the vehicle and if you can shoulder the repair cost should it be damaged.
Is it Safe to Drive a Truck with Frame Damage?
Although you can still drive a vehicle with frame damage, it can also pose a significant safety risk to the driver and its passengers. Collisions can also cause damage that you won’t notice right away. For example, your wheel alignment can be slightly off, or some of the nuts and bolts might have loosened.
For this reason, it’s always advisable to have your car checked whenever it’s involved in a collision. In some cases, the frame damage might be minor that the rails are intact, and the frame is generally fine. Small dents, for example, does not affect your car’s driving performance, but it does have an impact on its appearance.
However, in more severe cases, the frame damage might have affected some of the crucial parts, especially if more than one crumple zone is damaged. Driving a vehicle with frame damage also puts you into more danger as you don’t know when the car’s problems will rear its ugly head.
Trucks are perhaps the most versatile type of vehicle in the passenger car market. However, despite its rigid body, a car can have a bent truck frame as a result of a collision. Fortunately, auto body shops with the right equipment and trained mechanics can fix this problem in no time.
What should I do if my frame can’t be straightened?
The auto body shop usually gives you plenty of options on what to do at this point. One repair method they can suggest is to cut out the pieces of the frame that were bent and weld in new metal parts. However, doing so can potentially damage the integrity of the structure and can also endanger your insurance policy if done incorrectly.
Can you fix a bent unibody truck frame?
Yes, you can, especially if it’s a minor bend. However, if a particular section of the frame crumples, it’s often more cost-effective to simply replace the damaged part. Since the underpinnings and the entire body of a unibody crossover SUV are part of the structure, any damage on one area can significantly affect the vehicle’s performance.
Does a bent car frame mean it’s totaled?
A bent car frame is not something you would want for your car. However, just because it’s crooked, it doesn’t mean that your vehicle needs to be totaled. It’s best to have your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic and have him assess the damaged parts.