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Frame Replacement on SUV

teksolverteksolver Posts: 9
edited March 2014 in Lincoln
My daughter crashed my 1999 Navigator by running over several fixed objects (including an Audi A6) and managed to seriously damage the frame (she was OK, though the airbags never deployed).

The body shop is going to replace the frame, which causes me grave concerns about the reliability/stability of the truck. In addition, my lease states that I have to pay for the loss of market value (even though it will be repaired, it will not have the same value as one that was never wrecked).

Does anyone have any experience with the reliability after a major repair like this? Any ideas on how bad the "diminished value" might be? Any thoughts on how I can cover my tail and not take a huge financial hit at the end of the lease?

Thanks for your input!


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    If they repair the frame according to I-CAR standards (collision industry standards) it should be fine, but it will still have a diminution of value, probably something like 25-30% of book value.

    This percentage is purely arbitrary and is arguable. The more documentation you have on the repair, the more you could argue that the new buyer can be assured.

    You also need an attorney to wrangle on this lease issue, otherwise you could get beat up really badly if you just roll over for the leaseholder. 30% of a '99 Navigator is not small change.

    My condolences to the Audi.
  • lugwrenchlugwrench Posts: 213
    Didn't you have GAP insurance on the lease to cover you in the case of an accident of this nature? It would have probably cost you a total of around $500.00.
  • The GAP policy looks like it only covers the total loss of the vehicle. It does not make any reference to lost value due to repair - only total loss. Needless to say, I am researching all of the "dimished value" procedures and lawsuits against insurance companies.

    Leave it to my daughter to find the only way for me to take a major financial hit...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    The reason I suggested an attorney is that insurance companies hate, despise and loath even the mention of "diminution of value" and will dig in their heels and play tough.

    You see, here's the basic issue. Whoever sells your SUV, after your lease is up, is legally and morally obligated to divulge that there was once frame damaged. Now, it may be that the buyer a) doesn't care because they feel it was fixed right or b) does care but not too much if they get a decent deal. However, nobody knows this until they try, and nobody is going to risk taking a big hit on the car without making somebody else pay for that hit.

    Since, as a leasee, you don't own the car, right now it looks like the leasing company would take the hit. Of course, they want YOU to take it and are reading your lease just as hard as you are. And since they hire lawyers to do the reading, you might as well, too.
  • Thanks! All good points that will be taken into consideration. In spite of the information that follows, I am still nervous about the entire situation.

    I talked to an independent body shop manager today (a friend's husband) and he had an interesting take on it: Frame replacement is not the same as frame damage or frame repair. Damage is damage and must be disclosed. Repaired frames typically have alignment problems, therefore the law requires disclosure.

    The replacement is a factory frame and after it is replaced, it will be better than a repaired frame because it will have zero alignment problems. Technically, that frame is not damaged or repaired. He said he would buy a truck with a replaced frame before he would buy one with a repaired frame.

    He also told me that the Navigator's shell is effectively unibody construction and the process is almost as simple as unbolt the unibody and lift it off, move salvagable and replacement suspension and undercarriage parts onto the new frame, lower the unibody back down onto the frame and bolt it back down. Since there was minimal body damage, all of the required alignments for bolting the body should be easy. He also said that frame replacements are fairly common these days, which was news to me - but he makes a very good living running a high-end body shop.

    He also told me that since he knows some of the guys in the shop, he would stop by and visit with them to make sure it is being done right. I forgot all about his shop when I told the two truck to take it back to the dealer!

    Again, thanks for the input and any additional thoughts on the above. I do see and attorney in my future.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Well, I agree that modern repair methods can repair frames or replace them right to factory specs; however, you try and tell that to the next buyer. "Diminution of Value" is more of a psychological issue than a real one sometimes, making it all the harder to deal with.

    I suppose I would buy a car with expert testimony and evidence attached from the body shop, but I don't think you can argue that the leasing company is obligated to do that to sell the car retail. Furthermore, failure to disclose even a frame replacement would be unwise, I think. How would you feel, for instance, if you bought a year 2000 used car from a dealer for a high price and then you found a receipt buried in the trunk that said "frame replaced".

    You'd probably hit the roof, right?
  • You are right. I would hit the roof. I was raised with the "Golden Rule" as the primary rule in my household, so I will not do anything dishonest or underhanded at the end of the lease. I just thought the body shop manager's perspective was interesting (and probably representative of lots of used car dealers, too).

    At this point, I do still plan to pursue setting up for the diminished value claim on the leasing company's behalf at the end of the lease. The insurance company and body shop will be as "on the hook" as I can get them...with an attorney in tow.

    Meanwhile, back on the farm, I will have the truck for over a year before it goes back to the leasing company, so any issues that arise will be taken care of by insurance, body shop warranty, and Lincoln warranty.

    In the end, who knows? I could wreck it (God forbid!) and total it before the end of the lease and this will all be a moot point!
This discussion has been closed.