It’s usually easy to tell when a car has been in even a minor accident. But with the bumpers back on and the paint dried, any unrepaired damage under the skin is almost invisible. Audra Fordin shows us what to look out for in this edition of “Your Drive!”

AUDRA FORDIN: Today we’re looking at hidden auto body damage. On something that you would think was such a small repair, actually turned into a tremendous ordeal that is so important for you to be aware of, especially if you’re the person who had an accident.

Sometimes there is unseen, hidden damage that can actually affect the integrity of your car, the structure, or the computers; and in that case, it’s so vitally important for you to take a ride over to your auto body shop, unless you can’t take a ride to your auto body shop. In that case, you’re going to need to have your car towed. First things first, if you do have an accident, make sure that you pull over; pull over safely and check with your passengers, and be a kind person and check with the other person as well, if there is another person involved in your accident, to make sure that everybody is safe. If not, call 911. The next thing you need to do is assess the situation. Take a look at your car. In— In this GMC, we saw that it looked minor.

So we thought, until we peeled away the layers of the onion, and then saw, not only was the reinforcement and the bumper buckled behind the grille, there was damage to the transmission oil cooler.”

JOSH GONDER: Cars nowadays are made out of a lot of plastic material, and the bumpers and a lot of the exterior panels will flex inward and then when the impact stops, it will come back out. So, the bumper potentially could have went in pretty significantly and then damaged things behind; and then once the vehicle was moved, it pops back out and it looks like no damage.

AUDRA FORDIN: Once you get to the shop, they’re going to be able to make an assessment for you.

JOSH GONDER: This is our estimate from the insurance company.  Every customer comes in with an estimate from their insurance company. It is basically the starting point of that repair. So, insurance wrote this. It’s giving me an indication that they’re acknowledging the damage as part of this claim, so I am able to disassemble the vehicle in line with the repairs that they’ve written, to come up with a more thorough and accurate estimate after we disassemble the car.

AUDRA FORDIN: Once you get the estimate from your insurance company, you might need a supplement to see the extra repairs that are necessary because we didn’t see them right there at the very beginning.

If you have any questions or comments, reach out to us over here at MotorWeek.