There's nothing like the relief of getting out of your car after a minor fender bender only to see that you escaped with little or no damage. It can feel like dodging a (very expensive) bullet, but there's often more than meets the eye to collisions. It takes a trained eye to fully evaluate damage to a vehicle, and there are signs of trouble that are easy to miss.
If you're wondering about the effects of an accident on your car, then it's essential to watch out for these three signs of severe damage. Ignoring them can lead to costly repairs in the future or even a vehicle that is unsafe to drive.
1. Deep Scratches on Metal Surfaces
Your car's exterior is not composed entirely of metal. While your doors, hood, fenders and other major structural components will be steel or aluminum, your bumpers are likely plastic. Many newer SUVs also use extensive plastic trim for aesthetic purposes. Deep scratches on plastic can be unsightly, but they are no more than a cosmetic concern.
Deep scratches on metal are another matter entirely, however. Any scratch that exposes your car's metal body is a place where rust can potentially take hold. Rust can be difficult to deal with once it begins to progress, making it essential to address to repair these scratches as early as possible.
2. Loose Trim
While scratches and dings on plastic trim aren't a significant concern, ill-fitting pieces might be. If you notice a section of trim that seems to be loose following an accident, it can potentially indicate more serious underlying damage. Pay special attention to trim that no longer fits properly or looks bent or noticeably out of place.
Why is loose trim such a problem? The impact may have broken a clip free, but trim may also fail to fit correctly due to damage on the attached panel. A dented, warped, or otherwise compromised panel can prevent the trim from seating properly, even if the damage is too minor to notice with the naked eye.
3. Strange Sounds
It can be tempting to drive yourself away from an accident when damage to your car seems insignificant, but pay special attention to any noises that you hear while doing so. Even relatively quiet sounds can indicate damage that might not have been visible from outside the car. Accidents can knock hidden panels loose or damage suspension and braking components, all of which may produce subtle sounds.
No matter how minor the accident, remember that hidden damage may be lurking just out of sight. Contacting your insurance company and having a qualified body shop evaluate your vehicle is always the best course of action after any collision.
To learn more about collision repair, contact an auto body shop in your area.