Imagine that you are sitting at a stop light when an inattentive driver behind you collides with the rear-end of your car. After getting out to inspect the damage, you find that your bumper appears to be badly dented and there are signs of serious paint damage. This isn't a great situation to be in, but you may consider yourself lucky to have avoided more serious damage. Sadly, it is entirely possible that there is hidden damage that would be impossible to find without a detailed inspection.
Whenever your car is in an accident, no matter how minor it may seem, there is the possibility that damage has been done to the suspension, transmission, exhaust, or other mechanical components.
How Are These Components Damaged?
Even relatively low speed accidents involve a large amount of force being applied to your car. Modern cars are designed to be extremely safe, but this comes at the cost of the car taking the brunt of the impact in order to protect its occupants. In the hypothetical scenario above, it may seem as if the damage to the rear of the car was only cosmetic, but it is possible that the force of the collision also jostled the exhaust system and potentially damaged it. Force from a collision can also be transmitted along the drivetrain itself, resulting in damage more severe than a broken exhaust hanger or muffler.
Which Components Are Likely to Be Affected?
In a rear-end collision, the mechanical components most likely to suffer damage are the exhaust and the transmission. If your car is rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, it is possible that the rear differential (the part responsible for transmitting power from the transmission to the rear wheels) could be impacted as well. Whether or not these components actually have received damage depends largely on the force of the impact and the particular location that your vehicle was hit in. More importantly, the damage may not immediately manifest as a drivability issue.
In some cases, the suspension may also be affected, but this is usually only a concern in very serious collisions where suspension components may be twisted out of position. If your car is pulling in one direction, tracking badly along potholes or cracks, or otherwise feels "off" in how it travels down the road, then it is possible that serious damage has been done.
What About the Frame?
Frame damage is a terrifying phrase for any car owner to hear. With modern vehicles, however, frame damage is often less of a death sentence than it was in the past. In fact, even the term "frame damage" is less useful than it once was. Modern cars and car-based SUVs often use a unibody construction, which means that the body and frame of the car are one piece. This means that almost any body damage at all technically constitutes frame damage. Damage to the unibody is still a serious issue that can compromise the safety and integrity of the vehicle, but minor (and even serious) damage can usually be repaired sufficiently to restore the vehicle to its original condition.
Any motor vehicle accident, no matter how minor, is a stressful experience. It can be tempting to try to quickly move on with your life if the damage seems to be only cosmetic, but serious issues may be lurking beneath the surface. It is important to always have your vehicle fully inspected following all but the most minor of fender benders to ensure that you will not face serious problems in the future. For more information, contact auto body repair services near you.