Car accidents are unfortunate, but every time you get behind the wheel of a car, you accept the risk that accompanies driving. With tens of thousands of car accidents being reported in the US each day, you should not ignore the probability of you being on the receiving end. Numerous different factors can cause accidents, and the extent of damage varies with each incident. Minor accidents which end up causing scratches and small dents can happen in your driveway or a parking lot. However, the degree of the damages only goes up from there.
As technology is changing and advancing with our time, so is the autobody industry and its automotive fixes. The many solutions this article covers is what USED to be done to fix the autobody before new technological advances were discovered. Not only has autobody solutions changed, but the vehicles have also gone through many changes and advances which affect the autobody fix. For example, the fix for a windshield is so much more complex and even more expensive than it once was, the same goes for headlights. In addition, door handles now have cables and sensors versus just a rod with no sensors. Stay tuned for an article, in the future, of what is done NOW in the autobody industry.
Here are some of the most common forms of auto collisions that can happen. It should help you keep an eye out and hopefully avoid such accidents in the future.
Rear-end collisions constitute a large portion of the accidents that get reported on any given day. A rear-end collision occurs when a vehicle is struck from behind by another vehicle. These accidents mostly take place at stoplights, slow-moving traffic, or at a stop sign.
The extent of damages can vary depending on the type of vehicle, speed, and road condition. These accidents generally occur at slow speeds, but they can cause serious injuries; however, in the worst case, they can be fatal.
Damages to Parked Cars
A lot of accidents happen in parking lots. No matter how far away you park from other vehicles or how much space you leave between the other cars, people somehow manage to leave scratches and dents on your vehicle.
Although the damages generally tend to be minor, often, they turn out to be an expensive fix.
Most accidents involve more than one car, but that might not always be the case. Single-vehicle accidents occur much more frequently than you might think. These accidents can range anywhere from curbing your wheels to head-on collisions. Depending on the damages incurred, the cost of repairing will also vary.
T-Bone accidents are collisions where the side of a vehicle is struck by the front or back of another vehicle. This type of accident can take place at intersections, stop lights, and residential areas.
Careless driving or willful ignorance of stop signs are the prominent causes. These accidents can cause a lot of damage to vehicles when taking place at high speed.
Accident While Merging or Changing Lanes
A lot of accidents take place when vehicles try to merge into roads or while changing lanes. Misjudging the distance between vehicles or the speed of a vehicle are the leading causes of such accidents.
Sometimes vehicles remain in the blind spot, and the driver fails to notice them and ends up crashing into other cars. Unfortunately, most of these accidents occur at highway speeds which makes them exceptionally dangerous.
If you happen to be in an accident and your car suffered some damage, you should take it to an expert at the nearby collision center right away to assess the damages. Even if the damage seems mild, you should not refrain from seeking expert opinion, as it is a concern for your safety. In most cases, the damages will be repairable. An accomplished auto body shop should be able to restore your car to brand new condition without much hassle. Here are some of the most common damages that can happen and the methods employed by car body shops to restore these damages.
Dents on Metal Panels
The difficulty to repair varies depending on the size and position of the damage. Minor dents can be popped out and reshaped using less intensive methods, but dents wider than a few inches demand the implementation of more complicated car dent repair methods.
A suction cup or plunger is one of the easiest methods to straighten concave dents. First, the area has to be cleaned, and the suction cup is attached. Then the metal sheet is pulled out back to its original form.
Hot glue sticks are attached to the dented area and pulled out. Although many specialty tools assist with this process, bridge pullers are often used to pull the glue sticks. The glue that may remain on the body can then be removed using a degreaser.
An auto body technician uses hammers that are purpose-built to straighten automotive bodywork. The dent that is being worked on is what dictates the size and shape of the hammer. The dent is hammered out using gentle taps to restore the panel to its original form.
This procedure is one of the most difficult ones used by automotive body shops to straighten the panels. But some exceptionally stubborn dents require this process to regain their original form. First, the paint is removed using sandpaper. Second, the dent is filled with filler and sanded down to match the body lines. Then the area is repainted with utmost care to match the paint with the rest of the body.
Dents on Plastic Panels
Dents on plastic panels such as bumpers require a slightly different approach to iron out the dents. The method using body filler remains the same for plastic panels too. Other than that, here are the most common methods of car dent removal.
An auto shop technician uses a heat gun or blower to heat the damaged surface. The heat makes the plastic panels soft, and it expands, which allows the panel to be reshaped back into its contour.
Hot water is poured over the surface to make it softer and easier to work with. The dent is then pushed from the inside back to its original shape.
The frame is the foundation of any car. It is therefore integral to the safety and comfort of the vehicle. Damaged frames can cause shaking, unpredictable handling, and malfunction of crumple zones which are serious safety concerns. It is important to have the frame in proper condition for maximum safety and drivability.
Most reputable precision auto body shops are equipped with frame repairing kits that assist the mechanics with properly repairing a damaged frame. Some of the specific tools that are used by auto collision repair shops are listed below.
Frame straighteners are used to repair minor damages to the frame. It is especially useful to repair twist damages. They use a leverage process for straightening and can be used with optional foot pumps and overhead booms, making the collision repair process even easier.
Frame racks are used to deal with larger vehicles. This tool pulls the frame back into shape. The hydraulic system helps to restore the frame to perfect measurements with minimal effort.
Pulling posts is another essential tool that collision centers use to straighten frames. They offer a pulley system to hold tension with ease. In addition, the winch allows raising and lowering, enabling the technician to use better angles for straightening.
[Photos compliments of Chris Fix YouTube Channel]
Windshield cracks are relatively common. Sometimes it is caused by stray rocks on the highway and, sometimes it happens when you collide with a protruding tree branch or other motorists. In any case, windshields should be repaired as early as possible so that the crack does not expand further and water does not get into the lamination.
There are many types of cracks like Half-moon crack, Bull’s eye crack, and Star break crack. Small cracks can be repaired at low costs, but if the cracks are big, the windshield will have to be replaced. Some of the standard methods used to repair windshields are as follows.
Windshield Repair Kit With Adhesive Patch:
Several windshield repair kits are available in supermarkets that do the job for small cracks. First, the adhesive patch is applied on top of the crack. Second, the premixed resin is injected into the nozzle provided. A repair kit is an easy method, but it does not cure the crack completely. Instead, it stops it from expanding.
Repairing windshields with resin is the method used by most professionals at paint and body shops. The cracked area is thoroughly cleaned, and the resin is applied to the cracks. Then the resin is heated with a heat gun which helps it to expand and harden inside the crack reaching all the tiny crevices. This method provides strength to the windshield and restrains the crack from expanding.
Replacing The Windshield:
Not every crack can be repaired by the above methods. Sometimes, the crack expands even after performing the above fixes. In such cases, the best option is to replace the windshield. Replacing the windshield is an expensive solution, but the safety that comes with it is worth it.
[Photos compliments of Chris Fix YouTube Channel]
Almost all wheels can be restored unless it has developed cracks or undergone massive deformation. Huge potholes and collisions can cause slight deformation of wheels. This damage is not obvious, and it is hard to notice, but the handling and comfort of the car will suffer at high speeds.
All wheels will have suffered curbing at some point in their lifetime. It does not hamper the performance, but it certainly does not look good.
Repairing Deformed Wheels:
All alloy wheels are not made equal. Some wheels have more aluminum in them than others, and more aluminum is better in this case. The computer-controlled machinery used by precision auto body shops heats the wheels and uses hydraulic pressure to restore the original shape.
If the car has steel wheels, the process is much easier and requires just a hammer.
Repairing Curbed Wheels:
The undulations on the wheel are sanded down using sandpapers of different grains. All the remaining crevices are filled with epoxy before being sanded down into the required shape. The surface is then primed and painted on top of that. The wheel should look as good as new after it is repainted and polished.
[Photos compliments of Chris Fix YouTube Channel]
Paint scratches are inevitable and accumulate throughout everyday use. There are many different types of scratches, and all of them require different methods to repair.
None of those methods is particularly easy, as all of them require a lot of effort and great attention to detail to get it right. The most basic classifications of scratches include:
Clear-coat is the topmost layer of the paintwork. These scratches are very easily acquired over everyday use, and even improper washing techniques can also cause these scratches.
Paint is the next layer below the clear coat. These scratches expose the paint to atmospheric contaminants, permanently damaging the paint if left unattended for a long time.
Primer is the last layer below the paint, and it helps the paint adhere and gives it a smooth finish. These scratches do not form that easily and are most common during collisions and accidents.
Bare Metal Scratch:
These scratches are formed when the body comes in contact with sharp surfaces such as metal objects. When the bare metal is exposed, it is very likely to corrode. The corrosion can propagate to all the parts from there. Therefore, it is essential to cover exposed metal before it corrodes.
The clear-coat scratches are the easiest to remove. The process of removing them involves polishing the surface with a polishing compound using a microfiber buffing cloth or an electrical orbit polisher.
All the other deeper scratches require professional-level methods used in paint and body shops to be completely restored. First of all, most of the surrounding clear-coat and paint need to be removed. Secondly, fresh primer is applied and sanded down to shape. It then receives several layers of paint and finally a clear coat.
Whenever the vehicle undergoes a head-on collision, the headlight is most likely to get damaged. Especially for older cars, the headlights can easily form cracks.
Small cracks can be repaired enough to stop moisture from getting into the headlight assembly. If the crack is bigger or the assembly has shattered, the whole assembly will have to be replaced.
Broken Side Mirrors
The side mirrors are prone to damage, especially in heavy traffic. If the mirror is broken, but the mirror housing is not damaged, the broken mirror can be pulled out, and a new one can be installed with relative ease using a rubber sealant.
If the entire housing needs to be replaced, aftermarket side mirrors are available for most models. But sometimes, the mirrors will have to be color matched for the specific car.
Broken Door Handles
As most door handles protrude out of the vehicle’s door panel, it is highly susceptible to damage during collisions and accidents. In addition, repairing door handles is not worth the hassle as replacements are cheap and easy to acquire.
Installing the new door handle is a bit tricky if you do not have any previous experience. However, a professional body repair shop should be able to replace it with ease.
[Photos compliments of Chris Fix YouTube Channel]
Car detailing is the final part of any auto body repair. It helps the car to regain the shine that it had when it came out of the showroom. For a professional auto body detailing service, the first part is usually a foam wash. This process helps to loosen all the dirt and debris stuck on the body.
This is followed by a bucket wash with shampoo, which should remove all the dirt, grime, and grease off the body. The next step is the most important in the whole process, decontamination.
Many contaminants get ingrained into the paintwork, which cannot be removed by shampoo or foam wash. Instead, they require a variety of solvents like iron dissolver and tar remover to be removed entirely. Then the whole car is scrubbed with a purpose-built clay bar designed to absorb all the debris remaining in the paint.
Following the above step, the bodywork is polished using a polishing compound. It will help the paint to look as good as new if done correctly. You can do this with a microfiber cloth, but an electrical orbit polisher speeds up the whole process.
The final step is to protect the paint with wax or sealant. Both of which work in the same way by not allowing contaminants to contact the paintwork. The sealants such as ceramic coating usually last a bit longer than wax, however, it is more expensive than wax.
In conclusion, after a minor auto accident, some owners might decide not to fix the damage since it does not affect the vehicle’s driving condition. That is a mistake, and there are several reasons to avoid this. The damage may not be obvious at first, but it can snowball into a more significant problem in no time. After waiting a long time, if the accident turns out to be the root cause of your car problems, your insurance provider may not cover the costs. Therefore, do not hesitate to bring your vehicle to a collision center, however minor the damage might seem!