What is a pinch weld? Answered

A pinch weld is the result of welding two pieces of metal together. While that may not seem like much, you can find pinch welds in almost every car. For example, you can look under your car, and you’ll probably find an L-Shaped pinch weld behind the front wheels.

Why are pinch welds important? Well, they are needed to keep the car together. That may seem like a lot to take in, but you don’t have to worry about that. I’ll explain what they are in a minute and then move on to explain what to do (and, more importantly, what not to do) with them.

For now, you just have to know that a pinch weld is two (or, sometimes, four) pieces of metal put together. That’s it! You’ll usually find there are three types of pinch weld: L-shaped, Z-shaped, and flat-shaped.

The three types of pinch welds

  • L-Shaped: The L-shaped pinch weld is the most common one of them all. To make one, you need to weld two pieces of metal and form an L-shape. You can also use one L-shaped piece of metal and weld it to an I-shaped piece of metal as well.
  • Z-Shaped: After the L-shaped pinch weld, the Z-shaped one is by far the most common one. To make it, you need to place two L-shaped pinch welds together and join them. If you’re wondering where this kind of pinch weld is found in your car, look at your windshield – there’s your answer.
  • Flat-shaped: This is the simplest type of pinch weld but not the most common one. It’s nothing but two pieces of metal welded together. A flat-shaped pinch weld is different from an L-shaped or Z-shaped one because they are made out of two horizontal pieces of metal (I-shaped, if you remember my example above) put together.

Do I need a pinch weld in my car?

You don’t necessarily need to make a pinch weld for your car – because your car will come with the ones it needs from the factory. You get pinch welds right from the start. As you can probably guess, you have several on your car right now.

If you never heard about pinch welds before, you probably were eyeing your car wondering where you could put yours. Well, it doesn’t work like that.

Your car already has the pinch welds it needs. Your job is to make sure you know where they are and not to damage them (because they are there for a reason!)

So, put the tools down and grab pen and paper. I’m about to explain where the pinch welds are and how to keep them away from harm.

Where are pinch welds located?

There’s more than one pinch weld in your car. You probably have one big L-shaped pinch weld beneath your car; this one starts behind the front wheel of your car and extends almost to the back of your car. Your windshield consists of Z-shaped pinch welds as well.

Now, you might be wondering, how come cars have so many pinch welds? And that’s not hard to figure out: a car is a metal structure, and joining different pieces of metal to make a car is more efficient than making a car-shaped piece of metal.

But wait! Putting two pieces of metal together doesn’t make one pinch weld.

For a pinch weld to exist, you need to join two existing pieces of metal. The metal underneath your car is welded together (there’s a pinch weld there). On the other hand, the hood of your car isn’t (so there’s no pinch weld there).

This information may sound confusing to you, but don’t worry about it.

The most important pinch weld is the L-shaped one located underneath your car. That’s the one that takes most damage – and it’s the one you need to protect.

How can I protect my pinch weld?

Most pinch weld damage happens because of improper use. To prevent that from happening, you need to jack your car from the right place; otherwise, the pinch weld underneath your car could bend or break from misuse.

The great thing about pinch welds is that they can take a lot. Unfortunately, everything has a limit – and that includes your pinch weld.

Now, you may think a little pinch weld bending isn’t going to hurt your car – and you’d be wrong to think that.

The L-shaped pinch weld underneath most cars is keeping everything structurally sound – if that gives out, water may accumulate inside your car, then creating rust, and that could cause more trouble than you imagine.

An L-shaped pinch weld bending may turn your car structurally unsound and thus unsafe to drive as well.

That would be a catastrophic scenario, though! While far from recommended, jacking your car on your pinch weld once or twice isn’t going to destroy anything.

And there are ways to do it without damaging your car. More about that down below.

Can I use a floor jack on a pinch weld?

You can jack your car from a pinch weld if you do it right. Using a jack adapter or distributing the weight could be the difference between doing things the right way and bending the pinch weld underneath your car.

How to avoid damaging your pinch weld

  • Distribute the weight: Evenly distributing the weight isn’t as hard as it sounds. You need a few wooden blocks or a thick piece of rubber. You can place them between the pinch weld and the jack; that way, the weight will be better distributed instead of hitting the car directly.
  • Use an adapter: Even though most cars come with their own jack, you can buy an adapter that will better distribute the force coming from the jack. You can also buy a universal jack if you don’t have one.
  • Don’t jack from the pinch weld: The best way to prevent any damage from happening is to avoid jacking from the pinch weld. Your car has specific jacking points (that you can consult using your car’s manual). This option is by far the best one.

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