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What is bodywork/what does it do?
A vehicle’s bodywork is the outer shell of a vehicle and encases all of the essential workings of the vehicle such as the engine and chassis. There are over 130 parts that comprise the car's bodywork.
Getting into the details of bodywork
The bodywork is made from a variety of materials such as plastic, metal and fibreglass. Aluminium is a common metal to be used in a vehicle’s bodywork and has many benefits. It doesn’t corrode easily, meaning it may potentially last longer than steel alternatives. It also has the benefit of being lighter than steel which improves fuel consumption. Steel however, can be favoured by manufacturers as it’s a cheaper metal.
Fibreglass bodywork is becoming less popular, as it’s more difficult to repair if it becomes damaged but does still exist in older vehicles.
Plastic is usually used on areas of the bodywork such as bumpers and sills, but this is still usually only on cheaper cars. An exception to this could be for, example, the Citroen Cactus. The Cactus uses plastic side panels on the doors to create a unique look. This gives it the added bonus of also being a lighter vehicle than most vehicles of a similar size.
What if something goes wrong with the bodywork?
Damage to a vehicle’s bodywork can happen for a variety of reasons, the most common of which has to be rust and corrosion, and is particularly true of the steel parts of the car. Rust and corrosion is likely in the wheel arches and below the doors of a vehicle as these are near to the ground and are likely to be hit with dirt and debris whilst driving.
If you have a small amount of rust on a vehicle you may be able to repair this yourself by removing the rust with a sanding tool and filling and holes with body filler. After this you can prime and paint. If the job is too large, or you do not feel confident with doing this yourself you can take your vehicle to a dedicated body repair shop to repair the damage. They may be able to fix the bodywork by sanding and respraying, or worst case scenario by replacing the rusty panel. If a vehicle has rust that is sharp, this is classed as an MOT failure so should be repaired as soon as possible.
A vehicle’s bodywork may become damaged through a collision with another vehicle. This can result in anything from minor dents to extensive damage to a vehicle’s body panels. There are home use dent kits to take out minor dents from a vehicle’s bodywork, but these have mixed reviews. If a vehicle has severe dents, or a small dent on a raised detail line it’s best to take the vehicle to a body repair shop where a panel beater can correct the issue. Often, damaged body panels need a respray, which can be done at the same place.
Another part of a car body that may become damaged by a collision is the front or rear bumper. These are often made of plastic, and as such as more prone to breaking with heavy force. Others may be made from fibreglass. If a vehicle’s bumper is damaged, and the edges are sharp this is classed as an MOT failure as it can be dangerous for pedestrians. You can also be stopped by a police officer if your bumper has sharp edges, which can result in a fine and three points on your licence. As a temporary repair for a bumper, you can put gaffer tape on it in order to drive it to the mechanics.