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Thread: Salvage rebuild nightmare

  1. #1

    Default Salvage rebuild nightmare

    Well I've been coming to this forum for a while, and been able to answer most of my questions without posting. But this time I've screwed up real nicely, and need some specific answers. I'll try to make this back story as short as possible. So its not actually a salvage rebuild because the title is clean, but thats about all. My father in law bought a wrecked 2000 acura TL from his neighbors daughter for $200, and quickly realized he didnt have the ability or equipment needed to fix it. So I bought it off him, without a battery, for the same price. I get a battery in it and it turns out to have 250K on it. Bummer Oh well, still can make a few dollars off it. I was told all that happened was a collision with a curb and a mailbox, but it was messed up pretty bad. The front bumper and right frame rail were bent up about an inch or so and some other areas that needed straightening. Thinking the damage was only in front I didnt inspect any further. Rookie mistake. I got it back to the shop, ordered all the parts; fender, bumper covers, head light, passenger door, and seat(because the side airbag went off) and the paint. I'm emberassed to admit how deep I'm in this so far. Got it on the frame machine and everything in the front pulled out nicely. Just as I'm going to let it down I see my nightmare. The drivers side frame rail has basically caved in, and about 14 welds have split from the body. The last thing I want to do is put somebodys safety at risk. So I know I'm looking at a painful loss here, considering the value and how much I've spent on parts so far. So my questions are will the car ever align properly again? How dangerous is this? I'm thinking of using this as a back up car for the family, or should I just cut my losses and scrap it?
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    12,311

    Default NO...

    Don't put what's showing back on the road. PERIOD.

    Maybe find out what years the parts you have will go up to. Buy one with damage and lower miles and use your good body parts and call it a day. At least now you know better what to inspect before you buy something. You have to inspect.............EVERYTHING! Does it at least run? Maybe you could find one with a bad motor (timing belt) and swap motors with the mileage on the one needing the motor. Craig List is usually loaded with broken timing belt cars. Keep us posted and good luck.

    Henry

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    40,278

    Default

    I agree with Henry, you might be able to return the parts and start looking for the same car with a bad engine. It's an 18 year old car with a lot of miles on it and a lot of damage so I'd attempt to cut your losses now rather than dumping more money into it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    269

    Default

    Please don't take this the wrong way and we all make mistakes BUT you or the person who had the car on the frame machine should have caught this left side frame / floor damage when doing the measurements and setting the car up on machine. Needs a rail and floor work or do as Henry said. Good luck

  5. #5

    Default Thanks

    Thanks so much for the fast answers guys. Unfortunately, we are all on the same page. Yes the car does run and supposedly the engine is sound. But I would never put this car back on the road, not like this. My dad even offered to buy me out of the car and drive it himself. Not happening. And Tommie I should have been more clear, I dont have a full frame machine, just an oldschool pulling post, I said get up because I had to elevate the car to pull the front down. I'm very low tech. I was just trying to keep the post short and simple. That being said, I have done some salvage frame repairs. But considering the value of the car I just don't think its worth it. Not to mention, the arms on my spot welder are not long enough. So my remaining question is, if I decide to replace that section of the frame rail and the floor pan would the car ever align properly again? Just curiousity really. I've already been looking for another car it could donate its organs to.

  6. #6
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    Nov 2005
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    Default 18 years or 18 days...

    Quote Originally Posted by L&LRestoration View Post
    Thanks so much for the fast answers guys. Unfortunately, we are all on the same page. Yes the car does run and supposedly the engine is sound. But I would never put this car back on the road, not like this. My dad even offered to buy me out of the car and drive it himself. Not happening. And Tommie I should have been more clear, I dont have a full frame machine, just an oldschool pulling post, I said get up because I had to elevate the car to pull the front down. I'm very low tech. I was just trying to keep the post short and simple. That being said, I have done some salvage frame repairs. But considering the value of the car I just don't think its worth it. Not to mention, the arms on my spot welder are not long enough. So my remaining question is, if I decide to replace that section of the frame rail and the floor pan would the car ever align properly again? Just curiousity really. I've already been looking for another car it could donate its organs to.
    Damage has happened to that car beside kissing a mailbox. Just looking at that floor turns me off on the whole car. Those welds just don't pop like that so this car did some 'off roading' for sure. Again, I would make use of the good body parts, interior and drivetrain. Time to bail out. That car scares me.

    Henry

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Default

    Honestly, I have been in this business 40+ years, I inspect damage every single day on late model cars and I have NEVER seen a rail damaged under the passenger compartment like that, EVER. That rail needs to be replaced, PERIOD. There is nothing you can do to save it, it's a goner, return the parts and sell it to a wrecking yard.

    In my world a buckle, just a buckle it gets replaced. That is where we have gone, the structural integrity is GONE with only a mild buckle. There is no way I would put a person behind the wheel of that car, no way.

    Brian
    Touched by an Angel.

  8. #8

    Default

    Yeah I've been around the quite block a few times with rebuilding salvages, and never seen anything like this. If I decided to even touch this car then the whole frame rail would be replaced and probably a new floor pan. I would never consider selling someone an unsafe vehicle, just to avoid losing a little money. When I purchased the car, it was sitting in tall grass and mud, so I didnt want to get down and inspect the frame rail on the opposite side from the impact. Being told it only hit a mail box made me think it wasnt neccesary. I've had a few theories about what could have happened, but its certainly obvious that there was more to this accident than she told us, or either it happened on a seperate occasion. No doubt this amateur mistake is going to be a substantial(for me atleast) loss. However, I'm still curious what others think of this. Becuase like I said, neither me or my dad have seen anything like this, and we have about 50 years experience between us.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    1,325

    Default

    i grew up in this business and i got some years behind me now....

    i have never seen rail split like this...it looks like someone put a tow hook there and towed i, pulled it agsinst rwsistance


    however, i have seen many Acuras who had rotten out rusrted weakened frames bcs of ice and salt in Ontario...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Talladega, Alabama
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    Default

    I'm probably not as afraid of this damage as some of the guys here. Yes it is unusual damage, but the strength in that rail is front/back not side/side. It's obvious that the car left the road moving sideways and happened to catch a rock/stump/otherwise immovable object in just the right spot.

    If I were going to try to fix it, I'd align it best I could (probably pulling from those two strange bolts close to the front, wonder what they're for), finish removing the rail section, and replace with a used piece. It should align no problem.

    I've seen plenty of rail replacements I'd be afraid to ride in, this isn't one of them (with quality welds).

    Many moons ago I bought a 2nd generation Dodge Intrepid someone had replaced a complete right frame rail and never completed the job. I was able to pop about half of the MIG plug welds with a small hand chisel.

    Now THATS scary.

    I'm honestly more concerned with poor weld quality and corrosion protection when it comes to frame rail repair/replacement over the fact that a buckle has been worked flat. (no offense to anyone, just my opinion)

    With all that said (and knowing the other details about the car), I'd probably drive it across the scales at the local scrap yard then walk out carrying my new battery. Eat the loss.

    SamG

  11. #11
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SamG View Post
    I'm probably not as afraid of this damage as some of the guys here. Yes it is unusual damage, but the strength in that rail is front/back not side/side. It's obvious that the car left the road moving sideways and happened to catch a rock/stump/otherwise immovable object in just the right spot.

    If I were going to try to fix it, I'd align it best I could (probably pulling from those two strange bolts close to the front, wonder what they're for), finish removing the rail section, and replace with a used piece. It should align no problem.

    I've seen plenty of rail replacements I'd be afraid to ride in, this isn't one of them (with quality welds).

    Many moons ago I bought a 2nd generation Dodge Intrepid someone had replaced a complete right frame rail and never completed the job. I was able to pop about half of the MIG plug welds with a small hand chisel.

    Now THATS scary.

    I'm honestly more concerned with poor weld quality and corrosion protection when it comes to frame rail repair/replacement over the fact that a buckle has been worked flat. (no offense to anyone, just my opinion)

    With all that said (and knowing the other details about the car), I'd probably drive it across the scales at the local scrap yard then walk out carrying my new battery. Eat the loss.

    SamG
    I got you Sam, in my garage, that's a different story, I could make a new one easier than fixing it though. But in the world today, it gets replaced with a new one, nothing to even think about. Not with the liability that has been laid on us but the law firms.

    Brian
    Touched by an Angel.

  12. #12

    Default

    Sam, I'd say we are pretty much on the exact same page here. I'm thinking she probably bounced off the mail box and spun around and hit a stump just right. I've done a few jobs of this size or nature before, so that's not my hold back. My problem is that the car is worth maybe $1500(guessing), and I've already got about half that in it, but on top of that I would have to take 10+ hours away from either paying customer cars or my family time. Also my spot welder is to small, and I wouldn't want to plug weld something like this, so I'd have transport to a friends shop. I've seen guys do jobs like this by just cutting out the damaged section and replacing it, or pulling it straight then capping over it, or both. And I think if done properly, that type of repair could be just as strong or stronger than the original, but that also concerns me. I'm like Martin, I've always been taught that when something crumples or caves, it should be replaced, because the integrity is gone, and the crumple points will not work the way they are meant to if it ever has another collision. But I do agree that the welds in such a repair are just as important, if not more. I've seen plenty of times just how big of a problem a few unprotected welds can become, and that kind of problem in structural areas is a recipe for disaster.
    I still haven't decided what I'm going to do with this car. It's on the back burner for now. My dad wants to buy it and cap it over and drive it himself. But I'm thinking if I find another car wrecked, and use my good parts on it, plus pull the aluminum engine and wheels and part out the rest, then I might be able to break even on it.
    I really appreciate everyone's input. I'm glad I finally got around to signing up here.

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