Unibody Frame Repair Issues Concerning Your Imperial

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Question from Mark:

I have a friend who has a new car that is unibody construction, and it was involved in an accident, and he was told that the only way to determine if the "frame" of the car was damaged - since it was a unibody car - was to take the car apart. Which could cost around $8000. This, to me, sounded like BS.

I'm wondering, how do you tell what a unibody needs if it is hit? I know in 1968 Chrysler (or someone) produced books with very detailed measurements telling you where everything is supposed to be - it would seem to me that by now this would be computerized and easily ascertained by some other method and would not necessitate the disassembly of the body-?  Anybody have a unibody Imperial that's been hit? How did they fix it?


From Phil:

Its been awhile since I've done frame repair, but taking the car apart to do an estimate is like you say, BS. And if they had any real sense, they wouldn't suggest taking apart the frame on a unibody car anyway. There are books with all the measuring points to straighten almost any vehicle, I'm sure there is one for a 67-68 Imperial, I just wonder what they hit hard enough to tweak an Imperial that bad! I would find another body shop though, this just doesn't sound right.

From Dick:

Usually, any significant damage to a modern car results in the insurance company totaling it out for this reason. I suspect your friend has been given the straight story, but if he wants to take it to the next step, and if the car is drivable (safely), he could take it to a "frame shop" himself, and get a second opinion. They will have all the measurement information pertinent to deciding if the car can practically be repaired, and if it would be safe to drive after the repair.

Modern cars are really throw-away cars - once they are damaged, they cannot be safely and economically repaired, and the shops won't risk the potential liability of trying.

From Jim:

Any body shop that repairs late models will have a computerized frame machine that has all the reference points to use to pull or push a unibody to specs.

From Kerry:

BS! Any decent frame shop will put the car on the machine, measure from the factory alignment points, and pull/push it back into spec. Bought a car this week from a guy who does this every day.

From Rich:

To know right where the frame is, can be checked by any autobody shop which has a laser alignment rack. ( No, not wheel alignment, but frame alignment.) They hang rods at specific points under the car, & then with the use of a laser measuring device, can precisely tell if the frame is damaged, & what it will take to fix it. As most cars have been unibody construction since the 80's , you know that they don't take a car apart every time it is involved in a collision. Just look through the phone book, & call a couple of Body Shops & ask them about where they send their heavy frame damage cars to. There are usually a couple in each town which are just "frame shops", & do frame work for all the local body shops. And yes, there were books which gave all of the measurements for checking for frame damage. I have been out of that business for 17 years....so I don't know for sure where the information is now. I would guess it is available on CD . The frame shops should have all of the information, or be able to get it.

This page last updated November 15, 2002.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club