If you’ve been in an accident or have just been driving your current vehicle for a while, it’s possible you may have frame damage that’s not immediately visible.
Of course, sometimes that damage is obvious, such as when the car’s frame is bent or there is visible and serious rust–maybe it was involved in a collision, maybe you bought it that way.
Other times, however, there is no bent frame, no signs of rust, and your car seems fine.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at how to know if your car has frame damage and what to do if you suspect that’s the case.
Visible Signs of Damage
Okay, this is obviously the easiest way to determine whether your car has frame damage. If you give your car a walk around and notice that things don’t look as they should, you might have frame damage.
Be thorough in your inspection. Check for cracks, for rust, dents, and creases in the car’s frame. Check under the car, too. Make sure you don’t notice any dents or bent metal. If you can’t see under your vehicle but you suspect you have frame damage, take the car to a mechanic who can lift it for you and check for anything that may be amiss.
Unevenly Worn Tires
If you’ve begun to notice that one or two of your tires are wearing down more quickly than others, that could be a sign of frame damage. Similarly, if all your tires are wearing unevenly, such as if they’re fine on the left but bald on the right, that could also be a symptom.
When your tires aren’t wearing evenly, you’re more at risk of an accident. First, you could experience a blowout on the road. Secondly, your tires will be less easily able to grip the road in the rain, ice, or other severe weather conditions.
Things Just Don’t Fit Right
Will your windows no longer close completely? Do you now need to wiggle your door just right in order to get it fully closed? If things just aren’t fitting like they used to in your vehicle, it’s one way to know if your car has frame damage.
It’s a good idea to take your car to a mechanic if you begin to notice wiggly doors, loose bolts, or anything else unusual. These symptoms can mean bigger frame problems that can be quite problematic in the future.
You Can’t Seem to Drive Straight
Imagine you’re driving down a straight highway. You let go of your tight grip on the wheel for a moment and notice your vehicle beginning to veer toward the left or right. If your wheels aren’t tracking correctly, you could have frame damage.
Driving a vehicle with frame damage is never completely safe. But if you have poor tracking, it’s best to tow your car to a shop to have it checked out. As you’d imagine, the inability to drive your car in a straight line can be quite risky to you and others.
Your Car is Making Strange Noises
Like humans, cars begin to creak and groan as they age. But if you’ve noticed that your car is suddenly making strange sounds, it’s time to get it checked out. Your car may have suffered car frame damage in an accident or just from normal wear and tear. If left unchecked the problem can worsen.
When you bring your car in to be checked, your technician can tell you what’s causing those creaks and squeaks. You can then decide on the best course of action for repair. Auto body repair isn’t cheap, and if there is heavy damage to the vehicle’s frame, you could be left seriously out of pocket. But it all depends on the extent of the damage and the type of vehicle.
Take it to the body shop, see what kind of frame repair they can offer you, and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion elsewhere.
Your Alignment is Poor
When you’re driving down the highway, do you notice your car pulling to the left or right? Is your steering wheel crooked, even when you’re driving straight? Are your tires wearing unevenly or squealing on the road? These are signs that your car is in need of alignment.
Poor car alignment is a symptom of frame damage and should be checked out immediately. Bad alignment can be dangerous and also expensive, as you’ll find yourself replacing your vehicle’s tires more frequently.
Note that vehicles do need alignment from time to time. But if the problem is persistent, it’s usually a sign of a bigger problem.
Your Shocks and Suspension System are Bad
If you have frame damage, your car may be imbalanced. What that means for your car is that the weight is unevenly distributed, and that weight is causing more wear on one side of your vehicle. Your shocks and suspension system will suffer for this, so it’s best to get it checked right away.
If you notice your car vibrating on one side or that the shocks are more worn on one side than the other, it could be a sign that your car has frame damage.
Summary: Checking for Car Frame Damage
Whether you’ve been in a collision or have just put quite a few miles on your car, you may be wondering how you can know if you have damaged your car frame. These seven symptoms are the first indicators that you should bring your vehicle to a technician for evaluation.