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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, well the wife noticed that the plates are up in Nov. of this year on the 'bird, and she has so thoughtfully "prodded" me into getting more done to get the bird back on the road. I went back out and looked at it, and the more I look at it, the more I think it needs to meet a frame pull for a few hours. I'm no body expert by any means, but something just doesn't look "right". I have a bad feeling that if I invest all the time and money into getting the front end back on it, that it won't be totally straight. But then again I am on a limited budget, and right now I'll be lucky to have $$ for paint (have about $800 to work with). Would it really be in my best interest to have it taken to a shop and squared up just to be sure, or should I just do what I can? I did notice that there is a bit more hood gap on the drivers side (where the impact happened) than the pass. side, but there is no rubbing, it's just a hair off.

The car still drives straight and doesn't pull, and all suspension is fine. Heck, the bolts that hold the fenders on didn't even move. The only thing that is fubared is the drivers side bumper support mount (the accordian looking part), and a tiny bit of the core support, which if I removed the battery, I could hammer back into shape. I'm really leaning towards just dropping the extra $$ for a pull, but want some additional input from some experienced people. I want this car to be sweet again like it was, and I hate to take short-cuts.

Thoughts? Advice?

Jay
 

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A body shop will have books that have measurements between certain points and from those measurements you can determine if the frame is straight or not. If I were in your position I would probably see if you could find one of those books. As far as pulling it if it is tweaked, don't know how comfortable you are with doing that work yourself, but there's always the method of tying a chain around a tree and backing the car up. Another thing you could do is pull off the hood and fenders and look at the frame rails side by side. If it did get tweaked, you would probably be able to see a crease or bend or something on one side and not on the other. From there you can decide what you want to invest in the car.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yea, I've thought about the chain/tree idea. Done that before on another car and it actually worked. If it is tweaked, then it can't be by much, at least from what I can tell. The gap in between the hood edge and fender is equal all the way from front to back, the fender still lines up perferctly w/ the rest of the body, and the door doesn't catch on the fender either. It looks as though it's all isolated to the drivers' side bumper mount, and maybe part of the rad. core support. That is the only side that is visibly damaged/crunched. I think I'm gonna do some calling around and see what a shop would want to check it out. I doubt I can find one of those magical books w/ all the measurements in it.

I'm just too picky to waste time screwing around when it should be done right in the first place. I only need a header panel and headlight assembly to complete the damage repair as far as parts go, so I'm really not that far away. Might as well finish it off right.

Jay
 

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open the hood and grab a tape measure. youre gonna measure from one of the three strut mount bolts to a fender bolt on the other side, as close to the front as you can. then check the other side. should be %100 equal if the nose is square. actually you can measure to and from anything, just has to be one on each side. Hope that makes sense. thats how to tell if its square or not.

youre car doesnt have a frame, but the unibody has two main front "frame rails", they both end in crumple zones, right at the bumper. thats the accordian thing thats crushed. no shop in the world will try to pull out a collapsed crumple zone, youre gonna have to have it cut off and replaced. you can however ask for a shop to "set up and measure" the car. to see if its swayed. you can expect to pay 2-3 hrs for set up alone, and 1-2 hrs for measurement. thats before any repair begins. now at that point, I think its wise to have the shop do the repair work and assembly, so they have to be responsible for all panel gaps. In all reality, nobody puts a car up on a frame rack just to not fix it, doesnt make much sense.

The good news is thats its officially slow season in the body shop world. I would stop at every single shop in your area and ask for writen estimates and a quote on labor rate. this is where you bargain. when they want $65/hr for frame work, talk em down. might be able to fight for $40 if you try. depends on your area, but you want to find the shop that needs the work, in order to not lay off any techs. it is definetly that time of year. if they wont talk turkey, then they dont need the work. find someone who does. It also helps if they advertise newer frame machines. really they all do the same thing, but the newer, laser guided ones, help eliminate measurement mistakes.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the insight, modbird. I figured on replacing the crumple zone at the end of the rails, this is just more to get an idea of how much is bent. If the repair cost isn't too ungodly expensive, I'll have them replace all the metal, re-attach the front bumper support (the metal one) and hold them for good panel gaps. I am thinking about having the paint done at the same shop, so that may be a good barganing chip for me as well. Maybe they can cut me some slack if I decide to have them do it all.

Jay
 
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