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What you Need to Know About Car Frame Damage

One of the most important safety features of your car is the one you can't see - the car's structure or frame. Many of us grew up talking about our car frames, but most vehicles today are built on an integrated unibody structure. Whatever it's called, and however it's designed, your car's structure or frame is the foundation on which the entire car is built.


Car frame damage isn't always obvious.
Image: framefacts.com

What is structural/ frame damage?

If you're shopping for a used car, you want to make sure that the vehicle's structure/frame is in good condition, with no rebuilt title. Even minor damage, if not repaired properly, can seriously degrade a car's ability to protect you in an accident.


Structural/ frame damage is damage to any component of a vehicle that is part of the main structure of the vehicle, and/or any component designed to provide structural integrity. Examples of these components include any suspension mounting location that can't be removed, the lower frame rails, any upper frame rails, and in the case of unibody construction, the A, B and C pillars, windshield and rear window frames and rocker panels. Components that are bolted on are not considered part of a car's structure or frame. Note that this is a general explanation - there are exceptions.

Identifying structural/frame damage

Always review the CARFAX Vehicle History Report™ for information about a car's history before you buy a used car. The CARFAX Report may include accident indicators and/or indicators of structural/frame damage. If the CARFAX Report indicates an accident or if you otherwise suspect a car was in an accident, you should have it inspected to determine if its structure/frame is within the vehicle's manufactured specifications.


Have the car inspected and measured by a qualified collision repair facility that uses a computerized laser measurement system. A laser can measure your vehicle's structural/frame down to the last millimeter. The computer will automatically compare those measurements to the correct measurements for that specific vehicle make and model. Find a collision repair facility near you.