Used Car Inspection

How to Inspect a
Used Car for Frame Damage

How to inspect a car for frame damage...
The 3rd of 8 steps in the used car inspection guide.

The third step to a used car inspection is to inspect for frame damage. This not only can affect the value of a car, but can be a safety issue as well.

Frame damage is bad! If a car has frame damage it can be repaired, but almost like a reconstructed knee or hip it will never be 100%.

No matter what
the doctor mechanic says!

The frame of a car is like the foundation of a house and once it is damaged the whole structural integrity of the car is weakened.

Trust me, if an insurance company was willing to total the car out and pay a settlement, then it must be in bad shape.

Car buying inspections for frame damage are a very hard thing to teach to look for over the Internet. I always suggest having a qualified mechanic inspect the car prior to purchase, but I'd like to give you a few quick pointers.

Check For
Gaps in the Lines

As mentioned in step #1, the "General Walk Around," look for gaps in the lines. Check the gaps around the hood, the trunk and doors. If anything looks way out of whack, that's not good, and requires a closer look.

Is It

Also in the "General Walk Around" section, look for offset wheels or if the bumpers are uneven. When looking at the car from either the front or the rear, notice if the wheels on the drivers side of the car stick out farther than wheels on the passenger side and/or just the opposite.

This may sound a little odd, but the car can become twisted in a wreck and it can be pretty obvious even after it's repaired.

If you really want to go all out, you can get under the car and check for frame machine damage. This happens when a frame machine has been applied to the frame in order to straighten it out...You'll be able to see the clamp marks on the frame.

Weld Marks

Lastly, you can look for weld marks around the radiator. Oftentimes, these are very obvious.

If you find something that is fishy, or just doesn't look right, then be sure to point it out to your mechanic.

Now that you know how to inspect a car for frame damage,
What would you like to do next?

< Go Back To Step 2
Paint & Bodywork
|Move On To Step 4 >
VIN History Check

Or you can...

Review the entire Used Car Inspection guide by returning from -
Car Frame Damage to Used Car Inspection main page

Go to Insider Car Buying Tips home

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