Damage to the frame commonly happens when you get rust that eats through the chassis, but it can happen from car accidents too. Some vehicles have rust on the frame in less than two years, and if you don’t address it, the rust could weaken and eat through the frame.
Can A Truck Frame Be Repaired?
You can repair a truck frame, but it tends to cost a lot. Expect to pay anywhere from $600 to $1,000 for minor damage, and you could pay as much as $10,000 for severe damage to the frame. You need technicians with experience straightening the frame.
In the following article, we will look at why it costs so much and learn more about damage to the frame.
Common Damage to the Truck
You hope that you’d never sustain this type of damage to your truck because it costs so much to repair. In 50 percent of all accidents, the truck will sustain damage to the frame. The complexity of the repair is what leads to a higher cost because the technicians have to know how to repair the body of the truck.
Auto body shops, in particular, will specialize in repairing the frame of damaged vehicles. Many times, they also know how to repair the scuffs, scratches and dents too. They often put a new coat of paint on the vehicle.
Repairing Rust on the Frame
In some cases, you have a truck that has suffered damage to the frame from the rust. This can cost a lot or a little depending on the type of rust. You can fix surface rust easily with sandpaper or a grinding wheel. Rust that has deeply penetrated the frame of the vehicle will cost more because of significant damage. It could cost you as little as $20, but it could cost you $2,000 for severe rust.
Can You Ever Not Repair a Frame?
You can always repair a frame, but you have cases where it doesn’t make practical sense because it costs more to repair the frame than what the truck is worth. If you pay 75 percent of the value of a 1992 Ford F-150, you probably could buy a new vehicle. Not considering the frame, an older vehicle will start to nickle and dime you for engine repairs.
Challenges to Repairing a Frame
Let’s have a look at what leads to a higher cost in repairs for repairing the frame. Some of the biggest challenges to frame repair include:
- Realigning the body of the vehicle
- Ensuring proper radiator support
- Checking for apron damage
A technician has multiple factors that they must look at to ensure the truck is well aligned.
Signs of a Damaged Frame
In some cases, you might drive your truck without realizing the damage to the frame. Driving a truck with damage is safe as long as the damage is only minor, but you should have this repaired. Signs of damage to the frame include:
- Poorly fit components
- Visible damage under truck
- Shock and suspension wear
- Vehicle can’t maintain proper alignment
When the frame of your truck warps, it will cause issues with other components fitting properly. Check the truck doors to see if they open and close without a problem. The other sign is that the shock and suspension will be worn because a truck with a damaged frame will put stress on the shocks and suspension.
Can You Sell Your Car with Frame Damage?
Even with frame damage, you can still sell your truck. You may struggle to sell it to other car buyers because no one wants to take on that expense. Instead, you could sell it to a scrapyard for a lower price. Frame damage can drop your truck’s value anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent, depending on the extent of the damage. Reported frame damage will show up clearly on the car title.
Don’t Buy a Truck with a Damaged Frame
Unless it comes at a steep discount and you know about it, never buy a truck with a damaged frame. Gaps in the body will show the truck as sagging. Left unchecked, your tires and coils will wear out faster. You may notice difficulty turning, or the truck could even be unsafe to drive at higher speeds. Having a mechanic inspect the truck before you buy can keep you from wasting money on a bad vehicle.
When Doesn’t It Make Sense to Repair the Frame
First, if you planned to buy a new vehicle, you may find it not worth repairing the frame. Second, you don’t want to repair it if the truck won’t be safe to drive even after the repairs. In rare cases, you can’t repair the frame. Finally, you shouldn’t repair it if you can’t afford the repairs. You have cases where you could take out a loan to pay for it. If you have a second vehicle, you can wait until you can afford the repair. Sometimes, it makes more sense to sell the truck to a scrapyard to get some cash out of it.
Will Insurance Cover a Damaged Frame?
In some cases, insurance companies will hide frame damage from the repair order because they don’t want to pay a diminished value claim. Diminished value looks at how much value the car loses after damage in an accident. Frame damage has a stigma to it that can scare off buyers.
Because of that, insurance companies might pay to repair the frame, but they have the repair listed as something else. In that way, they avoid paying a diminished value claim. The official record may not show what happened with the accident. In some cases, the insurance company will ask for a second measurement to ensure the frame returns to the specifications of the manufacturer.
You have situations where insurance companies won’t cover the damage. For example, if you drove the truck knowing you had a rusty frame and the frame busted, they won’t cover this. In fact, if you caused an accident where people were injured, the insurance company may even come back and ask you for reimbursement.
A truck over five years old with extensive damage to the frame in a car accident usually gets listed as totaled. The cost to rebuild and repaint the frame makes it not worth it.
Don’t Try to Weld the Frame Yourself
Experienced welders and technicians who understand what they’re doing can make repairs to a truck frame through welding, but a novice should never mess with it. You could even unknowingly make the frame weaker. Truck frames can be repaired, but it requires someone with advanced knowledge. In addition, technicians have the right equipment.
What is Involved in Frame Repair?
First, a technician identifies the type of damage done to the frame. They measure specific points of the chassis. In most cases, an auto body technician will use torque and hydraulics to repair a frame. Advanced technologies include a laser measurement system where they look at the precise measurement of thickness.
The technician will disassemble the vehicle before they place the damaged frame on a platform. They bolt the frame to make it immovable. Next, they look at the areas that need fixing. The mechanic attaches chains to the frame, which increases the tension for operating the hydraulic equipment. This repair is only successful if it realigns the frame.
Inspect Your Truck After an Accident
After an accident, inspect the frame of your truck. Even accidents at low speeds that didn’t appear to cause damage can bend your truck’s frame. You may want to have a professional mechanic look at your vehicle. You want to have the frame repaired, rather than wait until something serious happens.
To sum it up, you can repair a damaged frame, but it may not be worth the cost. Just because your truck looks good after an accident doesn’t mean that the frame didn’t sustain damage. You need to have it inspected by a mechanic. Don’t drive it knowing that it has a damaged frame because this can leave you liable to the insurance companies if you had a car accident because of the damage.
The vehicle frame is also known as the chassis. It supports all the components attached to it. Some SUVs like the Land Cruiser, Lexus GX and the 4Runner all use a truck chassis because they handle better and consume less fuel.