Can I replace this frame

Tiny
JACOB STODGHILL
  • MEMBER
  • 1999 PONTIAC GRAND AM
  • 3.4L
  • V6
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 218,500 MILES
Other than the radiator being bent,which I know, this car has a little over 100,000 miles. I really love this car but me and another driver were prone to a blind spot, and I T boned him. Neither person was at fault, and I bought the car for $2,000.00. The body shop repairs would cost over that, since my insurance is not great and only covers up to $500.00. Here are some pictures. is this any way fixable? Car runs strong, nothing mechanical but the radiator, hence why I am against getting rid of it. I have seen people pry/take the old bar off and buy a new one or scrap one then bolt it on as a repair, could I do this?

http://www.imgur.com/sSC15if,wKAA63W,EhSofVY,KN91jap,fwUi8bb,TRjwGiH

Thanks.
Also, I have a Pull-a-Part near me with two of the same car model, so i plan on getting stuff from there.
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Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 AT 10:21 AM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
What part are you referring to? Your photo doesn't show the suspension and steering parts or the frame, so until you tell me differently, I assume you're looking at the red plate in front of the radiator. Most likely that is going to be spot-welded to the frame rails, or "horns". I am definitely not a body man, but I've helped a friend quite a bit who has a body shop. He specializes in rebuilding smashed one and two-year-old dodge trucks.

To remove this plate, run to a Harbor Freight Tools store and get a spot weld cutter. It works with a drill and cuts a hole big enough to remove most of the weld. You may need a sharp chisel and a hammer to finish the job.

Which Pull-A-Part are you heading to? I've been to 16 of their yards. They allow power tools now so you can take a cordless drill along, but in the past they didn't sell sheet metal except for parts that were bolted on. Don't know if that has changed in the last two years.

When you get the replacement ready to go on, hold it in place with some vise grip pliers, then attach as many parts to it as is practical, then shift it around a little as necessary to make everything fit right. I don't know for sure about other brands, but with Chrysler products the welding is all done by robots so the welds are in the same place on every vehicle. That means you can use those welds to orient parts just like with the holes stamped in sheet metal parts that are used for taking measurements. I suspect your car is the same way, so if the holes you made in the new part don't line up with the holes on the car, chances are a horn is bent. Body shops with frame racks can pull those to their proper position real easily. Most of the time we don't even bother with measuring equipment because there are too many undamaged points to index from that we just go by fit and gaps between doors, hood, and fenders.

Once you have the panel in place, use a wire-feed welder to fill in the holes. Use a real low setting to avoid burning the holes bigger. If you don't have a welder, a friendly body shop should be willing to do the welds once you already have the panel positioned and held in place. The measuring and positioning takes the most time and you will have already done that. The welding will just take them a minute or two once the equipment is set up. If you're lucky, they might be happy with a ten-dollar tip. When they charge you for their labor time, that usually includes taking on the responsibility for the quality of the job, meaning setting the panel in the right orientation. Since you're taking on that responsibility, the shop owner doesn't have to worry about you coming back with a complaint and they have to do the job over for free.

When you cut the welds on your car, try to cut through just the panel, not the sheet metal part behind it that will be staying there. Chisel the remaining part of each weld to break it free. When the old panel is off, use an angle grinder to remove any remaining pieces of metal the panel cutter didn't remove. The goal is to leave a nice flat surface to attach the new panel to. Do the same procedure with the angle grinder on the rear of the replacement panel. This insures the new panel will sit perfectly flat against what it is welded to. By not cutting a hole through the mounting surfaces on the car, the welding material will easily fill in the hole. If the hole had gone all the way through, there would be barely anything to weld to.
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Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 AT 2:48 PM

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