Restoring Automotive Performance

What Is Your Car's Undercarriage And How Does An Accident Affect It?

Even a minor accident can affect nearly every part of your vehicle. In addition to the collision itself, the impact force can travel throughout your vehicle, causing damage in unexpected locations. Because automotive collisions are so complex, it's essential always to have a professional and experienced auto body shop examine your car following any accident.

While most people usually focus on cosmetic damage after an accident, a skilled shop will examine all parts of your car, including the undercarriage. Learning what's typically meant by the "undercarriage" and how an accident might affect it can help you understand the estimate for repairs following an automotive accident.

What Is Your Car's Undercarriage?

The undercarriage typically refers to the part of a vehicle located underneath the car. If you get down on the ground and look underneath your car, you're looking at the undercarriage. Since manufacturers need to reserve much of a car's volume for its interior occupants and interior equipment, the undercarriage is the natural place to route many important mechanical components.

The undercarriage includes such vital components as your car's suspension system, but it also includes the exhaust system, parts of the fuel system, drivetrain components, and more. The complexity of your undercarriage will vary a bit depending on your car's drive layout, with rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles requiring more complex parts running underneath the passenger cabin.

In older designs, the undercarriage also included a dedicated frame that acted as the primary structural element for the vehicle. Modern cars use unibody designs that integrate structural elements throughout the vehicle instead. Despite this change, the undercarriage is still a critical part of the car's structure, and components such as the subframe can affect stability, handling, and safety.

How Do Accidents Affect Your Undercarriage?

How can an accident that most likely occurred at the front, rear, or side of your car affect your undercarriage? The answer can be complex. The compressive forces of an automotive accident can shift elements of the undercarriage, jarring them loose or compressing critical structural elements of your vehicle.

This damage can result in mechanical and body issues, especially if the subframe or other structural elements warp or twist in the accident. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to spot these problems just by looking, especially if they're relatively minor. Instead, body shops rely on advanced equipment to measure your car's dimensions carefully and check for misalignments or other frame damage.

Most importantly, an experienced auto body shop will look for damage underneath your car that can pose serious safety hazards, including damaged steering or suspension components or leaking fuel lines. This careful inspection is a critical part of restoring your car after any accident, even a relatively minor one.

For more information, reach out to a local auto body shop.