Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Your teen brings your vehicle home and mentions that they “bumped into a pole in the school parking lot”. Thankfully, it looks like a broken tail lamp and some scratches on the back bumper. You may be inclined to take this on as your next DIY project. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake many vehicle owners make in order to try and save some money. But because vehicles today have special technology and engineering from the front to the back in which every piece plays an important role, doing the repairs yourself could be a big mistake. It is a possibility for damage from a collision to look minor or even nonexistent. Some auto parts can flex without incurring visible damage. However, things are not always as they appear. Modern vehicles are designed and built to transfer energy produced by an accident throughout the vehicle’s structure (body), and away from the passengers to keep them safe from impact. The downside to this design is that many parts are meant to be sacrificed only once and should then be repaired or replaced following vehicle manufacturer guidelines and repair procedures. And if that part isn’t repaired properly, it won’t be able to do its job and protect the passengers the same way in the next collision. Repairing Hidden Damage Just because your vehicle may have just been hit in the rear doesn’t mean that the energy transfer doesn’t cause damage in another area. It’s also very common for damage to have occurred in places you cannot even view from the outside. For example, vehicles with plastic bumper covers do a great job of hiding damage. The specific plastic used on bumper covers normally have the ability to flex and bend without breaking. However, the metal or non-flexible plastic behind the bumper does not have those same qualities. The parts behind the bumper could be permanently bent or broke, sacrificing their protective qualities. Even worse, some hidden damage can be structural, which poses a true threat to safety. Basically, what seemed like minor parking lot damage may actually be more severe.
A trained collision repair technician or estimator may notice strong indicators that there is more damage than what you originally thought. Someone without the proper training and tools will not notice, or may even disregard this damage, leading to a vehicle that will not perform as designed in the next collision. When a qualified collision repair facility repairs a vehicle, every effort is made to return the vehicle to its pre-accident condition so that the vehicle will perform the way it is intended to.