Of all the problems that you can find with a vehicle, a bent frame is among the worse. Structural damage to the chassis will cause you major problems.
Unfortunately for consumers, there are plenty of unscrupulous car dealers out there who will cheerfully sell you a car with a bent frame. They may know the car has been in a wreck (and take careful pains to hide that information).
How do you make sure that you don’t end up driving off the dealer’s lot with a lemon that has a bent frame?
You can use these clues to spot a bent frame on a car
Before you even consider a vehicle, take a good look at how it sits on the ground. Have the dealer pull it around so that you can take a test drive. Walk entirely around the vehicle to see if you see any visible damage or the vehicle seems to sit unevenly on level ground. If so, ask the dealer to put the car up on the rack so you can look underneath for damage.
Even if the car looks okay, take that test drive. Look for the following problems:
- Windows or doors that have tiny gaps: That’s a sign that something deep in the structure of the vehicle is damaged.
- Wheels and steering that aren’t aligned: If your car drifts to the left or right when you’ve got the wheel pointed straight, that’s a clear signal that something is wrong.
- Tires that are wearing unevenly: Unless the tires are brand new, check their tread. A car with a bent frame will cause the tires to wear in an irregular pattern.
- Shocks and struts that are uneven: You may need a mechanic to check these for you, but – just like the tires – they can be a tell-tale sign of trouble.
- Uneven margins between doors and panels: Undamaged vehicles should have even margins between the various panels, doors, hood, and trunk. Uneven margins may indicate structural damage.
If a dealer took advantage of you and you ended up with a damaged vehicle, you may not be stuck. Find out more about your legal options for dealing with a dishonest dealer.