That New Car Is All Bent Out of Shape;Can You Fix It?
Why frame machines are more needed than ever.
The customer’s nearly new car is all bent out of shape and he has brought it to your collision repair shop to be mended. Can you fix it?
After all, cars have changed. High-strength steels, aluminum and other alloys are increasingly being used in vehicles to reduce weight and control the dispersion of collision forces.
Is your equipment – in particular your frame machine – capable of returning a damaged vehicle to OEM specifications?
Do you even need a frame machine?
“How necessary is a frame machine in dealing with cars incorporating new vehicle technology when many of these vehicles won’t require any repair – damaged components will simply be cut off and replaced?” points out Dan Stander of FixAuto Highlands Ranch in Littleton, Colo., and the Automotive Service Association’s Collision Division director.
“It’s true that in many cases, it is better to section and replace damaged high-strength steel and aluminum structural components rather than try to repair them,” says Bob Holland, director of collision in North and South America for Chief Automotive Technologies, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of collision repair products and services. “But even if sectioning and replacing components is the best way to go, it is crucial that the new pieces are placed according to OEM specs,” says Holland. “If not, the vehicle’s entire impact-absorbing design could be compromised.”
Frame racks make it possible to properly section a vehicle, says Holland, by providing a foundation to add holding points at strategic locations along the body. These additional holding points prevent the vehicle from shifting out of place during the repair process.
Holland explains that using modern metals, vehicle designers are able to direct collision forces around the passenger compartment and into areas specifically designed to absorb an impact. The dispersion of forces protects passengers by minimizing intrusion into the space around them.
“These advances in vehicle design and construction have made it more critical than ever that collision repair shops return damaged vehicles to OEM specifications,” says Holland. He emphasizes that in order to do this, every damaged vehicle must be fully measured before the repair, held securely during the repair, and – if needed – pulled in multiple strategic locations. “Frame racks and their accessories have evolved,” he explains, “to provide users with the measuring, holding and pulling capabilities necessary for properly repairing today’s vehicles.
“Since collision forces are transmitted across the entire vehicle, technicians must look for damage beyond the point of impact,” he stresses. “A multipoint, live measuring system that can measure an entire vehicle in three dimensions is the only tool that should be relied on to provide a thorough depiction of all damage. Shops that measure every vehicle that comes in and blueprint a repair plan for each one reduce the risk that ‘hidden’ damage will crop up later and delay repairs.”
While body panels and uni-body structural components are the most likely parts of a vehicle to be composed of high-strength steels and aluminum, many trucks, vans and SUVs are still being built on steel frames. Holland points out that strategic holding points can be used to distribute pressure evenly when these frames are bent out of shape, which reduces the risk of inflicting further damage to the vehicle. “When paired with a modern frame rack, the additional holding points can create an ideal setup for pulling modern vehicles back into shape,” says Holland. “New frame racks that offer 360-degree, multipoint pulling and variable height settings are much more versatile than their predecessors, because they allow technicians to isolate damaged areas for accurate, efficient repairs.”