Signs of a bent frame

Written by jen davis
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Signs of a bent frame
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Vehicles that have been involved in accidents where the frame is bent are typically totalled. Occasionally, a vehicle with a bent frame may avoid detection. Over time, though, the vehicle will display a variety of signs and symptoms of the problem. While no one vehicle problem is a guaranteed indicator of a bent frame, a combination of issues may result in the conclusion that a vehicle's frame has been damaged. Vehicles should always be taken to a professional mechanic or bodyworks garage for official diagnosis of a bent frame.

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Visible Frame Damage

Crawl under the car and look for damage or creases in the metal frame. Anything that looks suspicious, creased, rusted or visibly damaged in any way should be checked by a mechanic. A crease or unusual angle in the metal of the frame is a sure sign of a bent frame.


A car with a bent frame will always be out of alignment and pull in one direction or the other, regardless of how many times it has been aligned or how recently.

Wheels Don't Track Properly

Vehicles with a bent frame have a tendency to do what is sometimes referred to as crab-walking or dog-walking, a name that's generated because dogs and crabs walk slightly sideways. The rear tires of a vehicle are supposed to follow exactly behind the front tires. In a vehicle with a bent frame, the rear wheels will not track the same as the front wheels.

Uneven Wear in Shocks and Suspension

Cars are made to be balanced. A bend in the frame will put the car off-balance, causing increased wear and tear on the side where the brunt of the weight or force is placed. If your car’s suspension is wearing strangely or keeps breaking or malfunctioning, have it checked for a bent or damaged frame.

Improper Fit

Cars are large pieces of mechanical equipment, made from hundreds of other smaller pieces. The frame is the base for everything that constitutes the car. In the event that a vehicle has a bent frame, smaller pieces of the vehicle, including the body panels, will be out of line. Door and body panels may gap, not line up properly or work improperly if the frame is bent. Smaller pieces of equipment, such as mounts and bolts, may break due to the extra strain placed upon them by the changed position of the frame.

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