Design Guidelines for Truck Frame Repairability: Benefits and Necessity 2003-01-1246
The increase in truck or full frame vehicles in the market has led to unfavorable collision loss experience trends, due in part to the lack of adequate frame repair options. Prior to the incorporation of passive restraints in light duty trucks and sport utility vehicles, frame repair was considered by the vehicle manufacturers and the insurance industry to be a generally accepted practice.
With the advent of air bags, forward portions of front frame were redesigned to act as part of the energy management for passive restraint deployment. Several manufacturers were sufficiently concerned with the difficulties of restoring the impact performance of this area of the frame, that they recommended that this area should not be repaired, and furthermore if damaged, the entire frame should be replaced. However, after manufacturers began to adopt Hydro-forming for frame side rails, frame horn and rear frame side rail sectioning sanctioned by some manufacturers has become an accepted repair industry procedure.
If frame damage is such that sectioning is neither practical nor recommended, either due to the economic value of the vehicle or structural integrity concerns by the manufacturer, respectively, full frame replacement is usually pursued. However, this solution is not always practical. Currently in several states titling regulations make frame replacement impractical resulting in the disposition of these trucks as total losses.
This problem could be partially solved if truck frames were more repairable than they are currently. If frame sectioning in other areas besides the horns, such as in the middle of the vehicle, or if some frame materials were less sensitive to heat from stress relief, there might be fewer trucks in the total loss salvage pool, which could result in fewer non-recommended frame repairs performed.
This paper would encourage vehicle manufacturers to design and produce frames that are more repairable and/or can more easily be partially or fully replaced. Repair statistics and research examples are provided in support of this position.