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How Collision Repair Technicians Size Up a Minor Accident

Vehicle Damage

Collision repair technicians have a tough job. They want to do everything in their power to make your car look brand new again. They also need to keep an eye on the cost of repairs. That's why collision shops assign their most experienced technicians to perform the estimates for repairs after an accident -- even if it's a minor accident.

More Than Meets the Eye

Collision repair after a minor traffic accident requires the same type of careful inspection of the car as a major accident. That's because a lot of damage that occurs in a fender bender is hidden. To the inexperienced eye, a small crease in your bumper or a fist-sized dent in your door panel might look like a quick and easy repair. The insurance company will certainly push for a quick, inexpensive fix. The auto-body shop has a duty to make sure that there isn't additional damage that can't be easily seen. Hidden damage might lead to problems down the road. Here's a short overview of what a collision repair technician looks for after a minor accident:

When Bumpers Take a Big Hit

In the past, bumpers were heavy steel components that were fastened directly to the car's steel frame. A tap in the parking lot by an inattentive driver would barely scratch them, and it took quite a blow to knock one loose.

Most new cars don't have a frame to mount the fenders on anymore. The body of the car isn't built separately and then mounted on a separate chassis. Instead, all the components that make up the car are welded together to make one, light, strong component. This is called unibody construction. That's great for passenger safety, comfort, and fuel economy. It's not so good for bumpers. Bumpers are just the leading edge of what's called a crumple zone. To protect passengers, cars are designed to fold up like an accordion in a serious accident. When a modern bumper is struck, the force is quickly shared by parts of the car you can't see.

Modern bumpers are made from springy materials that bounce back into shape when they're hit. Your collision repair inspector checks to see if the collision did any underlying structural damage even though the bumper has returned to its original shape.

Fender Benders

Your fenders are a lot like your bumpers. They're usually part of the structure of the car, and make up part of the vehicle's crumple zone. If your car is struck hard enough to put a sizable dent in a fender, your collision repair technician will make sure that it hasn't shifted out of place altogether, and that it's still mounted securely to all the other components.

Door Panel Dents

When a car hits your door hard enough to leave a dent, it's really important to look for damage that might require the replacement of the whole door, not just a regular dent repair. A highly trained collision repair technician doesn't just look at the ding. If the door panel is hit hard enough, it can cause the gap around the door to become misaligned. That leads to problems like wind noise, difficulty opening and closing the door, and sometimes to broken hinges. If the door isn't aligned in the frame, it should be replaced.

Glass Damage

The windshield in your car is more than a window to the road ahead. It's an important part of the structure of the car. Windshields must be in perfect repair to guarantee the safety of the occupants in a crash. If you've had an accident that's caused even a minor crack or chip, the windshield should be repaired or replaced.

It doesn't take much for a small crack in your windshield to migrate across the whole expanse of glass. That kind of instant failure might make the windshield lose its structural integrity all at once, or even pop out. It's best to keep all the glass in your car in perfect condition to make seeing the road easier, and to maintain the maximum safety of the whole car.

Experience Is The Key to Smart Appraisals

There's nothing better than experience when it comes to collision repair, car maintenance, and complete auto repair. If you've been in a minor accident in the Los Angeles area, or just want to keep your car in tip-top shape, contact West Coast Tire & Service to enjoy the benefit of their decades of experience in auto repair service.