How Cars Work: The Body
by Kevin Schappell
The body shell is a fairly complex assortment of large steel sections. These sections have been stamped into specific shapes which make up the body of your car. These parts are designed to do many jobs at once; protect the occupants from the elements and in collisions, provide solid mounts for all other systems, and to slice through the air with minimal resistance. The body also has one other job which is usually important to the owner... it has to look good!
Although the zillions of parts that make up a car are all very important, it is also important that the car's body be able to make riding in a car bearable for you. Early cars were so uncomfortable to ride in, that the human body could stand it only for short periods of time. Auto bodies have come a long way since then. The body and the suspension system now give us a smooth ride, and cushion us from the jarring of the road. The idea is that the body of the car should go forward with as little up-and-down, and side-to-side movement as possible.
- Rust: The most common problem with an automobiles body is rust. Rust can work from the inside of your cars body and show up once it's too late. Fortunately most newer cars have very good rust proofing applied when built. Older cars can last along time also if you follow some simple tips given below.
- Accidents: It's bound to happen sometime, a fender bender or a major accident can really ruin your day. Make sure you have a reputable shop do the repair work and insist on original equipment parts. Cheap import parts can put you and your family at risk.
- Paint: The suns UV rays are your paints worst enemy. Park in the shade whenever possible and always keep a good coat of wax on your car. The wax should have UV protection just like the sunscreen you use at the beach.
- Wash the underside of your car during and after the winter season. This will wash off the salt used to melt the ice on the roads. Folks in the southern and most west coast areas don't have this to worry about.
- Make sure all drain holes around the trunk and hood are clear. These holes allow water to exit the ledges around the trunk and hood and prevent rust. Also check your weather stripping around all openings for rips and tears. Water will sneak in where you least expect it and eventually rust away your car.
- Waxing your car will keep your paint protected from the elements but what about the other side of the body? The inside is often neglected on older cars. Rust proofing is an option but if the rust has already started just covering it will not stop it. The existing rust must be removed or chemically converted before rust coating is applied.
What to discuss with your mechanic:
- Like looking for a mechanic, check your body shops accreditations. Also ask for their guarantee, good shops will do the job until you are satisfied. In my experience even the better shops have to redo a few jobs here and there. Do not hesitate to ask to have the job done to your liking.
- Inspect the repair job in different lighting situations. Some defects only appear when in direct sunlight or cloudy days. Most shops will give you a time period to inspect their work.
- When you get a quote, insist on using OEM parts, not cheap imported ones. This can put you and your family at risk.
- Make sure to ask around for recommendations, friend and family can lead you to a reputable body shop.
Kevin maintains http://www.autoeducation.com where he gives advice on car maintenance, buying, selling, insurance, and financing. A mechanical engineer and car guy, Kevin has decided to spend his online time helping others learn about automobiles.
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