Beware of Hidden Collision Damage

When you’re in a full-blown accident, obviously you’re going to bring your vehicle to a trusted body shop like Gold Coast Auto Body in Chicago. But even if your car, truck, or SUV is in a low-speed collision it is still advisable to bring it in because there could be damage beyond what’s detectible with the naked eye.

Even low-speed accidents like backing into another car or bumping into a pole in the parking lot can cause unseen damage to your car. A trained collision repair specialist can give you peace of mind if the damage is just cosmetic, or advise you of internal problems that could be costly if not attended to.

Examples of potential problem areas:

Cooling Hose/Transmission
That “little bump” may not affect your transmission directly, but it could damage the cooler hose. And if the hose is restricted, it will interfere with the flow of essential fluids necessary to cool the transmission. Driving without a functioning cooling hose can lead to a total transmission failure – a very costly and potentially dangerous scenario.

Wheel Alignment
You wouldn’t know it by looking, but wheel misalignment can come from just about any impact, including at extremely low speed. Misaligned wheels lead to tires wearing unevenly, which in turn will require you to replace them earlier than under normal circumstances. That’s money out of your pocket you didn’t have to spend.

Diagnostic Codes
As you probably know, virtually everything in your car is computerized. Modern vehicles have up to 100 sensors onboard; soon that number could top 200. Even with a small fender-bender, these systems can become damaged. A quality body shop like GCAB has specialized equipment that allows us to check your vehicle’s diagnostic codes. This is important even if your check engine light isn’t on because you may have pending codes. It’s worth the trip to the shop to be sure.

Body Frame
Damage to the frame of your vehicle can be serious, even if you can’t see it or feel it. If the frame of your vehicle is bent, the car won’t operate properly. Frame damage can lead to wheel alignment issues, and worse, may interfere with airbag deployment. Again, it’s worth your while to have an expert take a look.

Gone are the days of bumpers being little more than welded-on slabs of metal absorbing the impact of a bump. Modern bumpers often are filled with energy-absorbing materials like plastic or Styrofoam. When the bumper is hit with enough force to trigger its energy absorption characteristics, it needs to be replaced because it has served its purpose; it won’t work a second time. Of course, this wouldn’t be evident to a casual observer. An expert assessment is essential.

Vehicle Monitoring Systems
Bumpers also often house components for vehicle monitoring systems. As such, impact to the bumper can affect blind spot monitoring, parking and back-up cameras, and airbag deployment.

Trunk Malfunctions
According to this article from the website, rear-end collisions, even minor ones, can cause a litany of potential problems particular to that kind of impact. These problems can include trunk malfunctions such as water seepage during inclement weather or even the trunk popping open while driving.

The article cited above also notes that electrical problems can happen long after a seemingly innocent bump. This is due to the impact loosening wires that can then eventually come detached. Loose wires can cause brake lights to go out unexpectedly, or result in a dead battery.

So that’s the pitch. For your safety, for your wallet, and for your peace of mind, have those minor fender-benders checked out by a qualified auto body shop like GCAB. And if you have cosmetic damage, you know we handle that too.

For more information on hidden damage, read this report from MotorWeek automotive magazine.