Unibody vs. Body-On-Frame: What's The Difference

Unibody Vs. Body-On-Frame

The unibody of a vehicle is composed of one single unit and has become the preferred frame style for vehicles today. Although this frame style has become the preferred frame style for vehicle manufacturers, another body structure still exists, like the body-on-frame design. Here is a description of what exactly makes a unibody frame, what the benefits of a unibody and body-on-frame style are, and how a collision can compromise the structural integrity of a unibody, resulting in much-needed repairs.

What is a Unibody?

A unibody is a type of vehicle construction where the body and the frame are integrated into a single unit, unlike the traditional body-on-frame structure. In a unibody design, the vehicle's body provides most of the structural support, while the chassis or frame is integrated into the body to add strength and rigidity. This type of construction is commonly used in modern cars, SUVs, and crossover vehicles and has several advantages over the older body-on-frame design. There are many different benefits to the unibody frame structure as opposed to the body-on-frame style, such as better fuel efficiency and increased safety of the passengers if a collision occurs.

What are the benefits of the Unibody vs. Body on Frame?

Some of the key benefits of the unibody construction style are increased safety for the passengers during a collision and the ease of replacing components within the unit. The unibody construction design provides the passengers with specifically innovated crumple zones and extra safety features to supply each passenger with support during an accident. The unibody is innovated with zones dedicated to limiting the impact from more than one area of the vehicle. This construction style offers much more safety than more traditional body-on-frame styles. If a collision were to occur with this vehicle frame style, it would be much easier for automotive professionals to find adequate replacement parts because most vehicles have been designed with this style. For this reason, finding parts and technicians with expertise in unibody repairs is easier.

Benefits of the Body on Frame:

In contrast, the body-on-frame construction style comprises multiple parts to obtain the final body frame. Typically designed with steel parts, it is constructed to provide the vehicle and its passengers with sturdy and durable support in the event of an accident or collision. The primary benefits of this construction are its ability to withstand heavy loads, off-road capabilities, and its easy-to-repair design. If an accident occurs, causing damage to the parts within the frame, these parts can easily be removed and replaced while never affecting the structural integrity of the car, truck, or SUV. For this reason, all body-on-frame vehicles are much more cost-effective than unibody vehicle styles.

How can a collision affect the unibody, and why repairs may be necessary?

During a collision, multiple components within the vehicle's frame can be negatively affected and need repair or complete replacement. The abrupt impact from a crash can frequently cause the frame's metal to become deformed, distorted, and buckled. This type of reconstruction can lead to a compromised structure overall, which can influence a low-performing vehicle in terms of drivability. After a collision occurs, the front and rear areas of the vehicle are susceptible to crumpling, which can damage the hood, grille, headlights, and fenders. There is also the possibility that the doors, roof, and rear panels are negatively affected by the collision, which can cause misalignment. A misaligned vehicle decreases overall performance and can be very noticeable during every drive, worsening over time if not taken care of as soon as possible. Internal damage, such as a faulty suspension, poorly performing steering system, or drivetrain, can also affect the vehicle's ability to operate appropriately. Repairs after a collision are usually necessary since the vehicle's original design is often compromised or changed in one way or another. Auto body professionals highly recommend having a vehicle inspected after an accident to bring to light issues that may not be as noticeable, such as misalignment. It is vital to have repairs performed immediately after a collision to ensure the safety of every passenger.