Projects & Repairs --> Collision --> Car-Deer Accident

Professional collision repair techniques.

2007 Subaru:

Repairing
Front-End Damage
From Hitting A Deer

In This Article:

Damaged body parts are removed and the frame is pulled straight and square. New parts are installed and then painted. The air conditioning system is serviced during the repair process.

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Skill Level: 5 (Professional)

Time Taken: About 3 Days

By Jim Wilk, Licensed Auto Body Technician

Start:

This 2007 Subaru Impreza hit a deer at a speed of 55 mph and went off the road into a ditch.  2007 Subaru after collision with deer and hitting the ditch.

 

 Damage from car-deer accident. A view of the right side. At first glance, there doesn't appear to be much damage to the right side, but if you look closer, you can see a dent in the front door.

There was was also a buckle above the front wheel well.

 

I began by removing the damaged parts.

First, I took the bumper off, and then I removed the remains of the mangled left headlight

Start of collision repair, removing bumper and headlight. 

 

 Removing front fender bolts, 2007 Subaru. I removed the front fender bolts that were just beneath the hood.

 

Then I removed the lower rocker panel trim to expose the lower fender bolts. Removing lower fender trim to expose bolts on a Subaru. 

 

 Removing lower fender bolts, 2007 Subaru. I removed the three bolts from the back of the fender.

When the door is opened, two bolts can be located near the top and bottom of door. The third bolt was located at the very bottom of the fender.

 

View of the deer fur on front edge or the fender. Deer fur caught on damaged car fender. 

 

Structural Damage After An Accident

Crumpled fenders and a broken grill are obvious signs of damage after a front-end collision, but the sheet metal behind the fenders and grill has a structural purpose, and these inner components often get bent in an accident.

Since most cars are symmetrical, the major structural dimensions are designed to be the same on the left and right-hand side of the vehicle.

I measured from the shock tower bolts to a bolt hole on the radiator support bracket.

I used an ordinary tape measure for this procedure.

Measuring structural damage after front-end collision.

 

 Comparing left and right-side measurements to assess structural damage after car accident. My measurement on the left side (driver's side) was 2.5 inches less than the right side measurement.

The left side of the radiator support bracket had been pushed back 2.5 inches by the impact with the deer. (D'oh!)

This damage will require the frame straightening machine.

 

After anchoring the vehicle and setting up the frame pulling equipment, I positioned myself in the safety zone and pulled the radiator support forward while measuring with a yard stick. Using automotive frame-straightener to pull damaged metal back into position. 

 

 Taking cross-measurement to ensure front end structure is square and true. Then I took a cross measurement to make sure the inner structure was square.

 

Air Conditioning System:

Although damaged, the air conditioning condenser still contained Freon. Using the air conditioning charging station, I evacuated the refrigerant from the system. I always follow the EPA standards.

The system will be recharged when the repairs are complete, which we'll explain later.

Drawing-down air conditioning system with vacuum pump. 

 

Front view of car with air conditioning condenser and radiator removed.  

 

 Installing electric cooling fan in front of engine. After replacing the A/C condenser and radiator, I put the electric fan back in place.

 

I started the procedure of replacing the left fender by installing the top bolts first.  Upper bolt locations for installing Subaru fender. 

 

 Side bolt locations for installing Subaru fender. Next I installed the fender side bolts.

 

Then I put in the lower fender bolt and the plastic inner wheel shield. Lower bolt locations for installing Subaru fender. 

 

 Checking fender-to-door gap. I then checked the fender-to-door alignment and gap.

 

With everything fitting properly I replaced the rocker panel cover. Replacing rocker panel trim. 

 

Air Conditioning System:

Whenever the air conditioning system is opened to the atmosphere, water vapor will get into the system. But any water inside the air conditioning system can cause serious problems. The standard practice is any auto repair shop is to pump ALL the air out of the A/C plumbing, which draws out water vapor and will force any drops of liquid water to evaporate.

 
Recharging automotive air conditioning refrigerant with service system.  Our shop has an air conditioning service unit, which is used to recover and recharge refrigerant, and more.

I connected this machine to the car's A/C lines and turned on the vacuum pump to suck the air from the system. This machine will draw an almost perfect vacuum, which means there is almost no air inside.

 

Our A/C station is automatic... it draws a vacuum for 15 minutes and then stops. Then it tells you to open a valve to add refrigerant oil to the system (typically 2 ounces). After that, you enter the number of pounds of refrigerant that the car's manufacturer specifies, and the machine fills the car's A/C system with the exact amount of R-134a.

After refilling the A/C system, I ran the car and placed a thermometer in the air duct. The thermometer should read 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit when the air conditioning is working properly.

It's worth mentioning that most auto body repair shops have the tools and expertise to properly recover and recharge an air conditioning system, and the rates are often lower than auto repair shops.

Many do-it-yourselfers try to recharge their car's A/C with one-pound cans of R-134a bought from a discount store or parts retailer. This only works when the system needs exactly one or two pounds of refrigerant, which isn't likely. It's easy to over-charge the system, which can damage the compressor. The best approach is to have a properly-equipped shop draw down the system with a vacuum pump and charge the system with the exact amount of refrigerant. This can often be done for under $100, depending on where you live.

 

I replaced the left headlight assembly, but there was a problem... the left headlight was dimmer than the right.

After checking the wires and connections I consulted the owners manual. According to the manual, there is a right and left headlight fuse, located in fuse panel in the engine compartment.

Left headlight dimmer than right. 

 

Car fuse panel filled with debris.  When I released the clips holding the fuse panel cover, it exploded open. It was stuffed with fiberglass house insulation and two dead baby mice!

 

According to the fuse diagram, one of the dead mice is located right above the fuse in question. Rodent problem, car fuse box filled with insulation and dead mice. 

 

 Vacuuming debris from automotive fuse panel. So I vacuumed the fuse panel of all foreign matter, including dead critters.

 

The fuse was shorted out, due to moisture (or urine, perhaps). So I vacuumed it dry and replaced the fuse. The dim headlight problem was solved. Replacing an automotive fuse. 

 

Front-end repairs after hood installation, before painting. The hood had to be backordered, so it arrived a few days after the other repairs were done.

I attached the hood and aligned it properly. Then it was ready to be painted.

The front bumper was painted separately, then installed later.

 

View of left side Subaru Impreza after assembly and painting. Subaru Impreza after body repairs completed. 

 

Right side of Subaru Impreza after body repairs for deer collision damage.  View of right side.

The total repair cost for this deer collision was $7,200.

The work in this article was performed at R-TECH Auto Body in Traverse City, Michigan.

 

More Info:

Tools Used:

  • Basic Mechanic's Tools
  • Frame Straightening Machine
  • Air Conditioning Servicing System
  • Wet-Dry Vacuum

Materials Used:

  • Fender, Hood, Front Bumper, Headlight Assembly, AC Condenser, Radiator.
  • Automotive Paint (Matrix)

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Written May 27, 2008