What You Should Know About Frame Straightening

If you’ve been in a collision, whether it’s a head-on crash or a side-impact accident, your car’s frame may have been damaged. Depending on the vehicle type and the severity of the damage, your car could be a candidate for frame straightening.

Frame damage occurs when the structural support, or frame, of your car has been compromised in a collision. You may not be able to tell that your frame was damaged so it’s important to take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic following an accident. If the mechanic determines the frame is bent, they may recommend frame straightening. Frame straightening involves maneuvering the vehicle’s frame back into alignment.

Types of Frames

Today’s vehicles generally have one of two types of frames:

  • Ladder or body-on-frame – this is a simple frame that resembles a ladder. It carries the engine and drivetrain. Wheels are attached to it, and the body and seating area placed on top of it. This basic, rigid frame was the original method used to build automobiles. Today, it’s still used for pickup trucks and many SUVs. When damaged or bent in a collision, these types of frames are usually good candidates for frame straightening.
  • Unibody – the body and frame are one piece, and the overall structure looks more like a vehicle skeleton than a ladder. This makes the car lighter, thus allowing for better gas mileage. Most of today’s cars, compact SUVs, and minivans have a unibody frame. These frames are designed to absorb shock and have sections that crumple during impact. The crumpled sections can often be removed and replaced. Depending on the damage, bent portions of the frame might be able to be straightened.

How Does Frame Straightening Work?

Body shops use frame machines to straighten bent frames. These machines consist of a large platform and towers, as well as computerized equipment that helps to identify damaged areas and ensure repairs have been correctly performed.

Damaged cars, trucks, or SUVs are driven onto the platform and secured into place. The moveable posts or towers are then positioned around the vehicle and can rotate up to 360 degrees when repairing the frame. Chains from these towers are attached to bent parts on the vehicle’s frame.

Frame straightening machines also have sensors or lasers that are used to determine the areas that need to be straightened. These diagnostics also determine the placement of the towers and chains.

Each tower has a hydraulic system that gradually increases tension on the chains to pull the frame back into shape. Mechanics may need to also cut, weld, or manually shape a frame to get it just right.

Once the adjustments are complete, the frame machine’s electronic measurement systems verify the frame once again meets manufacturer specifications. Following the repair, the frame should be properly aligned and able to withstand future impact.

If you’ve been in an accident and suspect you have a bent frame, contact Bavarian Body Works for the best repair.

At Bavarian Body Works, we service many types of cars. When your car is damaged in a collision, we’ll examine it for mechanical, electronic, frame, and body damage and discuss all repairs with you in detail. Our first priority is always your safety, so we will ensure your car is returned to its pre-accident condition. Contact us today for more information.