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How to Fix Frame Damage on a Car

Frame damage occurs when your vehicle has been struck or damaged at a critical part of its structure. And while we all hope we never have to deal with major damage, the potential for fender-benders, accidents, and the need for repairs are just a part of owning a car.

Think of a car frame as your vehicle’s core foundation. Apart from the fact that it’s an integral part of your car, it also makes things possible you might not have thought about, such as keeping doors aligned when they’re closed, supporting the motor and bumpers, and providing a strong steel base off which to build everything else that makes up a vehicle. And if you recently had a run-in on the road that resulted in a bent or damaged frame, it’s going to affect road safety and potentially make it impossible to drive your car without getting it fixed.

Current vehicles are made to sustain most of the impact from any accidental collisions or fender-benders, and have places known as “crumple zones.” This is important for safety, since the crumple zones bear the brunt of the damage rather than their passengers, and depending on the nature of the incident, your car’s frame may be bent or damaged. Now you’re wondering how to fix or straighten the car frame yourself.

Fixing or straightening a bent car frame yourself may be possible, but because the frame is such an integral part of the vehicle, it’s important to never compromise safety. If there’s any question that there may also be internal damage (crushed radiator, for instance) or there’s anything off with your car’s brakes or steering capacities, you’ll want to have a professional assist you with any straightening or welding.

In this article we’ll explore fixing frame damage yourself, as well as the tools that professionals need/use to fix this type of damage.

Fixing Car Frame Damage Yourself - When It’s OK

Generally speaking, if your vehicle has sustained nothing more than a few dents, dings, a crunched bumper, or a little bit of a crumpled hood, you should be able to hammer things out without much of a hassle. Having the proper tools can go a long way towards yielding better and safer results, so you’ll want to use a professional-grade frame straightener, and have access to a pulling post, chains, clamps, and/or anchor pots.

Once again, straightening a bent car frame yourself is not recommended at home unless the damage is minor to the car body. Dents and dings are easily hammered out, and crushed bumpers can be straightened with chains and a pulling post, but bending large amounts of metal that are essential to your vehicle’s proper functioning should be left to the professionals.

When to Let the Professionals Handle Car Frame Straightening

Most damage to the car frame will require a body repair professional to fix, as there might be internal issues with brakes and steering. If not taken care of properly, it can be very dangerous. The radiator could have been crushed, your alignment could be out of whack, and if the incident was serious enough, it could have affected your braking system.

Having the frame on your vehicle fixed generally means that the auto body shop will use professional grade tools like frame racks and measuring equipment to bend the fractured metal as close to its original shape as possible. They’ll also utilize computerized measuring tools, as re-aligning the bent frame of a vehicle properly is a task that requires very precise measurements.

If you’re an auto body shop, chances are you’ve already got these products on hand or are looking to replace or expand your car frame straightening kits. Each of these tools is an important aspect of straightening a bent or damaged car frame properly, and they all work together to create a safe, restored, driveable car.

  • Floor Anchor Pots - Anchor pots secure a chain from the vehicle to the floor of a shop, and are used for pulling vehicles when such action is necessary to carry out a frame repair. They’re simple to install and can be easily moved and re-installed around the shop if you need a different location. Anchor pots with removable chains are the best option, as this prevents damage to the anchor pot base itself if the chain breaks and needs to be replaced. The length of the chain can also be adjusted, depending on your shop size. For stronger and more secure pulling, we recommend securing the vehicle to a Champ Uni-Benchand securing the Uni-Bench down with anchor pots.
  • Pulling Posts - Another important car frame straightening tool is a pulling post. Effective in achieving quality results, pulling posts are used to straighten a bent and damaged car frame by utilizing the vehicle’s natural torque and mass, offering a sturdy and durable base with a pulley system specifically designed to hold tension in any chain or cable attached to a vehicle. A winch allows for easy raising and lowering of the pulling mechanism. Height adjustability allows better angles and pulling technique depending on the size of the vehicle, and the weight allowance can go as high as 20 tons.
  • Frame Racks - Frame racks are an important straightening tool for auto body shops that deal with larger vehicles. This tool helps repair extensive vehicle damage with a minimal amount of effort due to the hydraulic pump systems that can restore the vehicle to its factory measurements by pulling the frame back into shape with torque and leverage. Lots of models have great safety features, such as non-skid ramps and easy access so that mechanics are able to access all parts of a vehicle easily and safely.
  • Frame Straighteners - Frame straighteners are a great tool that both auto body shops and experienced home mechanics can benefit greatly from owning. They work well for fixing minor frame damage to your vehicles and use a leverage process for straightening similar to the frame rack. Frame straighteners are especially useful for repairing twist damage. They can be used alone or with optional foot pumps and overhead booms that make straightening a vehicle’s frame even easier.
  • Clamps, Chains, & Hooks - Properly weighted and professional-grade accessories also make straightening a damaged car frame much simpler. Chains are an important aspect for pulling, and making sure they’re securely attached to the vehicle and the source of pulling is important for proper straightening, as well as safety. Both professional and home mechanics will want to make sure they’ve got a good array of chains, clamps, and hooks available for any pulling or vehicle frame straightening projects.

Summary

By making sure your auto shop has the proper tools, you can effectively and safely restore bent and damaged car frames to their factory measurements. If you’re a savvy home mechanic who has the space for larger equipment, fixing a damaged car frame at home is possible, but beyond any minor dents and dings, straightening a bent car frame should be left to professionals.

If you’re looking to expand your shop’s frame straightening abilities, browse our extensive collection of frame straightening tools, frame racks, chains, and other important accessories to find the right tools for your shop.

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