A minor collision may not result in much visible body damage, but hidden body damage can be the real problem. If the impact hits the right spot with the right force, the frame of your car can become bent askew. This can lead to major issues down the road, so an auto body repair to address frame damage is a must.
1. Pulling to One Side
When driving a straight road with the steering wheel held straight, the car should continue to drive straight even if you temporarily lift your hands from the wheel. If the car noticeably pulls to one side, especially at higher speeds, then the problem could be with the frame alignment. A bent frame can cause a car to pull to one side due to the direction of the bend in the frame. Not only is it unsafe to drive a car that is pulling, but it also can cause more damage to the vehicle.
2. Uneven Component Wear
Certain components of the car may wear out more quickly on one side due to the stress of a poorly aligned auto body frame. It's typically most noticeable with the tires since they are easily visible -- you will spot that the tread on one part of a tire is wearing more rapidly than on other parts. Suspension components and shocks may also give out more quickly on one side of the car compared to the other in the event the frame is skewed.
3. Tire Tracking Issues
Align the steering wheel so that the tires are perfectly straight, then view your vehicle from the front. Are the tires straight up and down, or does one or both tires tilt inward or outward? If the tires aren't aligned straight together, then your body frame may need to be adjusted. In some cases, tire tracking issues may only indicate a tire alignment is necessary, though, so the problem does need to be checked out by a mechanic.
4. Panel Alignment Concerns
You may not notice any issues when driving, particularly if you usually travel at lower speeds. Panel alignment problems are much more obvious. When you shut doors, the hood, or the trunk, you may notice that the doors stick or that the seam between the door and adjacent panels is of uneven width. If panels are out of alignment, chances are that there is an issue with your auto body frame.
Contact an auto body shop if you suspect that there may be damage to your frame.