Frame damage happens after the vehicle is involved in an accident that significantly compromises its structural rigidity, and depending on how big your wallet is it could be fixed, but would potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars. As a result, frame damage would often lead to a salvage title and subsequently thrown to the bottom of the used car market barrel.
Frames started primitive in the automobile’s early life, being just a series of rails made out of thick steel welded together. The body work at that time was made separately and then attached to the frame. Then from the 1930s to now, almost all cars have come to use what’s called unibody construction, where the frame is integrated with the body work, which makes the car lighter and is designed to direct force away from passengers to what are called “crumple zones”, which are spaces on the car that absorb force from crashes.
Frame or unibody damage on a car is generally one of the worst things that can happen because it means the car is no longer structurally intact. A bent car frame or unibody could cause certain parts to shift and no longer align with their intended purpose or place, which could cause the car as a whole to become unbalanced. If a car is unbalanced, it’ll unevenly wear the tires, brakes and eventually suspension and steering parts would fail as a result.
In order to fix frame damage the car must be taken to a shop that has a frame straightener, and even then it will cost a lot of money to fix. Economically it doesn’t make much sense to fix frame damage, which is why frame damage tends to lead the car to a salvage title. For more severe damage than just a bend, pieces of the frame would have to be cut out and re-welded, which may preserve some structure but would still cost too much to be worth it.
In short, unless you have a ton of money to blow on preserving a one-off edition of some sports or luxury car from the 1960s, it’s generally good practice to avoid buying a car with structural damage. Repair costs could end up outweighing what the car is worth in the long run. Frame damage is when the car’s structural integrity down to its unibody is severely compromised, causing the car to become unbalanced and inevitably cause more parts to fail and break. Frame damage can be fixable but would likely costs a fortune, and generally isn’t worth the money.
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