Side-impact collisions can be potentially devastating, but even relatively minor crashes can lead to significant vehicle damage. Dealing with a crash of this nature typically requires repairing or replacing multiple parts, from doors to rocker panels. In extreme cases, it may also be necessary to cut and weld damaged structural components.
While no two accidents are necessarily alike, there are several types of damage you can expect following an impact from the side. This article will discuss three of the most common effects that you'll see, even if your crash was relatively minor.
1. Door Damage
You're unlikely to escape any side-impact collision without at least some damage to one or more doors. Fortunately, door repair is usually a straightforward task for an auto body shop. Shops will typically replace any door with severe damage, although they may salvage some of the interior components or electronics.
If there's no paint damage on the door, your shop may also choose to use a paintless dent repair method. These techniques allow technicians to pull body panels back into shape, although they are only appropriate in cases where the damage did not penetrate to metal. Likewise, shops typically can't use paintless dent repair on creased metal.
2. Rocker Panel Damage
Rocker panels are the body elements that run along the bottom of your doors. These are structural components on many cars, so damage to a rocker panel can potentially impact the vehicle's safety and drivability. A severe enough accident can damage or destroy rocker panels, forcing your body shop to remove and replace them.
While slip-on rocker panels exist and can be used to fix panels with rust or other minor cosmetic issues, shops will usually need to use entirely new replacement panels for accident damage. In this case, technicians will need to cut off the old panels and weld new ones into place. This technique ensures that your car's structural integrity remains intact.
3. Structural Buckling
A side-impact collision can potentially cause significant structural damage to a vehicle. Modern vehicles use a unibody design (instead of a separate frame) that integrates structural elements into numerous body panels, so seemingly minor collisions can affect how the car drives. Shops will check that the "frame" remains within factory specifications and look for signs of buckling in structural elements.
Fortunately, experienced auto body shops can repair frame damage and restore your vehicle's driveability and safety. In the case of buckling, the shop will first remove and weld new parts of the structure before ensuring that the car is straight and safe to drive.
Reach out to an auto body repair shop in your area for more information.