By October 18, 2012 2 Comments Read More →

Rear End Collision

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Since this was a long question, I responded to her in RED below within her question.

Reader Question

I have a 2007 Nissan Quest minivan that my husband and I purchased brand new from the dealership.  It has been a good vehicle, only requiring normal maintenance, never any need for repairs.

Last September (like last month, or last year) I was rear ended, and while my vehicle showed very little cosmetic damage, it has not been the same.  The entire rear end is not as it was prior to the accident, but the insurance (Progressive) claims the damages are not accident related, so I’d like your opinion of my damages.

1) The power lift gate has failed to open/close the trunk door properly since the accident.  Lift gate mechanism is located on lower left side. I would try to adjust the lift gate latch and make sure the latch on the vehicle and the opposing latch on the lift gate are in perfect alignment

2) There is heavy leaking in my trunk, primarily on the left side.  Leaking continues to worsen. I would check the rubber gasket around the lift gate to see if there is an opening, this again would mean the lift gate is out of alignment…same as above.

3) A violent rear end shimmy has developed, but the alignment feels fine, at 70 MPH it drives straight with no strong pulling. I would check the rear tires for uneven wear, high spots or rough edges on the center and top outer sections of the tires will wear unevenly and cause a roaring noise.

4) unusual noises from rear end, distressing as if the rear end is going to fall apart. This is a front wheel drive vehicle, so there really is nothing to the rear end of this vehicle….again, I suspect a worn or rough tire. You can try moving the rear tires to the front and see if the noise moves as well.

None of the above issues were present prior to the accident.  The point of impact was on the left rear bumper.  At the time our Quest was 4 years old and had just under 50,000 miles. How many miles on the rear tires? If the tire tread is still good and EVENLY worn, then I would have the tires rotated and balanced and see if that helps

I have no doubt the damages are accident related as they are in close proximity to the point of impact, but Progressive refuses to repair them, as the accident failed to produce significant cosmetic damages. Yep, no fun dealing with insurance companies.

Do you think the frame could have minor damage causing the shimmy, etc.? There really isnt much of a “frame” to cars these days, if the alignment checked out ok then I would suspect a problem in a tire or maybe a bent wheel.

If not, what do you think would cause the shimmy? I would suspect a tire, possible bent wheel which will show up during a tire rotate and balance.

On average, how long would it take to inspect a frame for minor damage not obvious to the naked eye? A 4 wheel alignment machine will tell if there is a frame type problem, the insurance company should pay for that, so ask.

What is your opinion on all these problems coincidentally developing after being rear ended? If you were in my shop, I would do a 4 wheel alignment first, to make sure things are straight, then look at the tires, rotate and balance all tires, check alignment of the lift gate, check all rubber gaskets around lift gate. if you did not get a 4 wheel alignment, call Progressive and ask them to pay for it, they should.  This is called a “supplement” and they will pay the shop directly.

Nissan sent their best service tech to ride with me through the car wash, and we drove on the freeway for him to see the shimmy.  Despite experiencing my complaints first hand, Nissan is baffled.  They said they’ve never seen anything like it and said they’d have to take apart the entire rear end to find answers. There is really nothing to take apart, maybe just maybe the left rear spindle is bent (part the wheel attaches to) but a 4 wheel alignment print out will show that if it is.

Nissan has told me there is a chance my Quest may require too much time/money to diagnose and fix, and therefore may be considered a total loss.  I think they are trying to scare you to go away.

What can I do?

April

Hope this helps

Austin Davis

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2 Comments on "Rear End Collision"

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  1. Austin Davis says:

    Thanks for the update April, glad you got those items fixed. On the shimmy, I still suspect a tire issue, if you can drive out of the shimmy (meaning the shimmy is felt at 50MPH but goes away or gets better at 70MPH) usually that is due to out of balance or damage to a tire. If the shimmy causes the steering wheel to move side to side then the front tire (s) are the problem. If shimmy is felt in the seats, but not in the steering wheel then usually a rear tire issue.

    Swapping the front tires to the rear and see if that helps or hurts would be a recommendation. I know you just had that done, but did the “bad” tire get moved to the front/rear or just to another side, left to right?

    Getting a 4 wheel alignment (which I would insist the insurance company pay for, and they should) will tell you if there is any structural damage. We repair cars with $15,000 worth of damage and they run just fine after wards and you could not tell anything happened.

  2. April Cantley says:

    Hello again, I wanted to give you an update on what we discovered regarding my 2007 Nissan Quest. We discovered the exact reason for the lift gate not working, as well as the leaking.

    The impact from the accident was great enough to make the motor of the lift gate come unbolted and jump out of it’s housing. It became wedged between a interior compartment and the tire well. Every time I forced open or closed the lift gate manually, very difficult the teeth of the motor and the rod would gouge into the metal. It was wedged in so tight it literally cut a hole through the tire well. The hole not only allowed water inside during the car wash, but the air kept blowing the compartment cover off.

    Now the lift gate is fixed and working like new. We also found the seal around the window inside the back door was damaged allowing water in too.

    In regards to the rear shimmy, my tires were only 10 months old and were the best Michelin tires available. We had the tires checked/rotated balanced, etc. and everything was fine with the tires.

    I’m being told there was damage to the unibody in the rear near the point of impact, that is causing the shimmy. I’ve been warned it’s not easy to fix, and that my vehicle may never run the same as it did before the accident.

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