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  • Writer's pictureCorrie Enyart

Five Signs of Hidden Damage After a Car Accident

More than 6 million car accidents happen each year in the United States, and more than 30 percent of those are rear-end collisions. Statistics in Cedar Rapids are no different. Most fender-benders are minor and happen at slower speeds which leaves little cosmetic damage, if any at all. However, vehicles can sustain other kinds of damage that can be hard to identify if you don’t know what you’re looking for. This is what the auto body repair industry calls “hidden damage,” or collision damage to the frame, mechanics, or electrical systems within a vehicle that is not visible from the outside. Here are five signs that you might have hidden damage:


Problems with your car’s steering can be a sign that your vehicle’s frame is out of alignment following a collision. The frame of a vehicle is like its bones; even a slight misalignment can put stress on other parts of the vehicle and cause additional damage. Here are some common symptoms of alignment damage to your vehicle:

  • The steering wheel veers one direction when you’re driving

  • The steering wheel is shaky

  • The steering wheel makes noises when you turn

  • Your vehicle vibrates or rattles when in gear


If you’ve been in a collision recently and your ride has suddenly gotten a lot rougher, it could be another sign that your vehicle’s frame is out of alignment and is damaging your car’s suspension system. Your car’s suspension system regulates friction between the tires and the road to limit the impact of road conditions and help you maintain control of the car. As suspension parts like struts and shocks wear down, they’re unable to absorb the impact of potholes and grooves in the pavement, making your ride rougher. It may be annoying at first, but if left unattended, suspension issues can cause your car to bottom out when you hit a speed bump or steep driveway, which can damage the undercarriage and create mechanical issues.


The newer your vehicle is, the more sensors it will likely have in the auto body. These sensors control Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) features like blind-spot monitoring, cruise control, and others. ADAS features can be incredibly helpful and improve the driving experience, but the sensors are susceptible to damage in a collision because of where they’re located. For example, in a rear-end collision, the impact can damage sensors in the bumper, causing ADAS features to malfunction or completely fail. It is possible for a minor fender-bender to damage the sensors embedded in a car’s bumper without causing any visible damage. If you’ve been in an accident recently and your blind-spot monitoring features malfunction or stop working, it may be a sign of hidden damage to the sensors in your bumper.


If your car begins to leak fluid or have issues with acceleration or shifting gears after an accident, it could be a sign of transmission damage. Rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles have transmission components near the rear of the car that can be susceptible damage in a rear-end collision.


After an accident, be sure to test all of the latches on your trunk, hood, and doors to make sure they can open and close properly. If they don’t, it could be another sign that your vehicle’s frame was damaged in the collision. A broken latch on a trunk, hood or door can cause them to pop open unexpectedly, even while driving. If a door gets stuck closed, this can be a risk to exiting your vehicle safely in the event of another collision.


After you’ve been in an accident, a professional technician at a local collision repair shop like Golden Hammer Collision Center will be able to repair hidden damage. Get a free quote from us - we'll even provide a shuttle and tow your vehicle if necessary. Find out why we're The Shop with the Golden Touch!

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