Find Your Body Shop
04/28/2019 by I-CAR
Your college student brings your vehicle home and says they “bumped a pole in the parking lot”. Luckily, it looks like just a broken headlamp and some scratches on the front bumper. You may be tempted to take this on as your next DIY project. Unfortunately, this is a very common mistake many vehicle owners make in an effort to try and save a few dollars. Modern vehicles have technology and special engineering from front to back and every piece plays an important role.
It’s possible for damage from a collision to appear minor to nonexistent. Some vehicle parts can flex without sustaining visible damage. However, things are not always as they appear. Modern vehicles are designed and built to transfer energy produced by an accident throughout the vehicle’s structure (body), and away from the passengers.
This design is meant to sacrifice replaceable automotive parts (especially in the front and rear of the vehicle) to keep the passengers safe from harm. The only downside to this design is that the parts are meant to be sacrificed only once, and then they need to be repaired or replaced following vehicle maker repair procedures and guidelines. Until that part is repaired properly, it won’t be able to do its job and protect the passengers the same way in the next collision.
Repairing Hidden Damage
The transfer of the collision energy makes it possible to have hidden damage in other areas of vehicle, even though the vehicle was only hit in the front. It’s not uncommon to see damage that appears to stop at the point of impact, only to be three-dimensionally measured and find that the vehicle structure is bent as well. This is due to the way collision energy moves through the vehicles body. Next time you watch a vehicle crash test video, pay close attention to the entire vehicle. You will notice collision energy ripple through almost every panel on the vehicle body, even into parts that are not near the direct point of impact.
So, it’s possible that what seemed like minor parking lot damage, may be more severe because the damage caused from the collision may have traveled to a spot that you can’t see, or that is invisible to the untrained eye. Every part of a vehicle has some part in the transfer of collision energy, but some have a bigger part than others. Vehicles with plastic bumper covers do a great job of hiding damage. You see, the specific plastic used on bumper covers normally has the ability to flex and bend without breaking. However, the metal or non-flexible plastic behind the bumper does not possess those same qualities. The parts behind the bumper could be permanently bent or broke, sacrificing their protective qualities. You may not be able to see these damaged parts until the vehicle is disassembled and the damage is uncovered.
That is why it is extremely important to, at the very least, have your vehicle inspected by a trained collision repair professional. A trained collision repair technician, estimator, or damage appraiser may notice that your hood is not fitting quite right, or that the space between your front fender and door is not as wide as it should be. This can be strong indicators that there is more damage than what you originally thought. Someone without the proper training and tools will not notice, or may even disregard this damage, leading to a vehicle that will not perform as designed in the next collision. When a collision repair facility repairs a vehicle, every effort is made to return the vehicle to its pre-accident condition so that the vehicle will perform.
Make sure you take your vehicle to a trained and credentialed shop – the type of shop at the core of Bodyshopology’s shop locator.