4 Chassis Details You Should Know
Knowing about your vehicle is incredibly important when it comes to caring for and maintaining it properly. If there’s one part of your car you should understand better, it’s the chassis. Here’s why.
1. What Is a Chassis?
A chassis is the basic framework of your vehicle. Sometimes the chassis is only the frame, while other times it includes the wheels, transmission, and sometimes even the front seats.
A chassis is one of the most important components of a vehicle, without which the car would have no structure. It is the canvas in which the final construction of the vehicle is placed upon. Chassis are usually made of carbon steel. More recently, as a way to create more inexpensive vehicles, some chassis have been made with aluminum.
2. Body-on-Frame Chassis
There are two different types of chassis used on vehicles today. The original type, which is still used on heavier vehicles like trucks and off-road vehicles, is the body-on-frame chassis. It’s called this because the body of the vehicle literally sits on top of the frame. They are not attached as one unit, but instead, work separately from one another.
A body-on-frame chassis is easier to modify or repair in case of an accident. This type of chassis makes the vehicle slightly harder to handle and steer.
3. Unibody Chassis
Unibody chassis are exactly as they sound. The chassis and body of the vehicle are actually one piece and function together as the base of the car. Unibodies are used for lighter vehicles. This type of chassis makes cars easier to handle and drive. They are lighter than body-on-frame chassis, which makes them better on fuel, too.
One problem with unibody chassis is that because the frame and body is one large piece, it is much harder and therefore more expensive to repair. If the damage to the chassis is extensive, it may be impossible to repair it at all.
4. Caring for Your Chassis
Car chassis need constant lubrication. Your chassis should be inspected and lubricated every six months. You can do this yourself, or if you would prefer, you can take it to a nearby mechanic or dealership to handle the maintenance. If your suspension is starting to squeak or creak, this is a sign there isn’t enough lubrication on your chassis and you should address that immediately.
It’s also important to keep your chassis clean. Since it is the underside of your vehicle, it is very common for the chassis to become caked with dirt and mud. Keeping the chassis clean will not only improve your vehicle’s lifespan, but also its current driving performance. This can easily be done at home with sponges, water, and if required, a degreaser for any oil that may be present. Be sure to dry the painted areas to keep them from rusting.
Cars and their internal parts can sometimes seem complicated, but knowing even a little bit about your vehicle and how you can best maintain it will save you time and money in the long run and keep your car on the road longer.
Image via Flickr by JOHN LLOYD under use of CC BY 2.0/Cropped from original
*Based on 2016 EPA mileage/highway estimates and driving range ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your MPGe/MPG and driving range will vary depending on driving conditions, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, battery age/condition, and other factors. For additional information about EPA ratings, visit http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/label/learn-more-PHEV-label.shtml
*MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.