Accidentally Drove Over a Curb – Possibility of Serious Car Issues?

Updated: | Author: Steve Freling | Affiliate links may be present.

Just driven over a curb? Driving over a curb and impacting part of your car doesn’t always mean that you will be up for a serious repair bill. There’s always a sinking feeling when you drive over a curb, especially if there is a loud bang to accompany the mistake.

However, your car is tougher than you think it is and the suspension components are built to handle a bit of rough and tumble. Read on to find out about some tests you can perform yourself to establish if any damage has been done and what steps to take.

First Steps to Take If Your Car Has Taken Damage

The first step in checking whether your car has taken any damage is to check for any cosmetic damage. Does the front bumper have any impact/paint damage? You should also check whether all the panels are still in alignment with each other.

The next step is to check whether any damage has been done to your rims/tires. As the tires are the first point of contact with the curb, you should monitor the pressure of your tire over the next few hours to make sure there are no air leaks.

You’ll need to change the tire if there is any sign of air leaking out. Ideally, you should transport the tire to a tire shop to see if they can repair the tire. If something has been embedded in the front of the tire such as a nail, this can usually be repaired. If an object is in the sidewall of the tire (unlikely when driving over a curb), you would normally need to replace the whole tire.

Any bodywork damage can be resolved by taking the car to a panel beater who can usually repair your existing bumper without needing to order new parts. This is normally not particularly expensive and is charged on a panel by panel basis.

Although less likely, if there has been damage done to external fittings such as fog lights, then these may need to be ordered in by your panelbeater.

Check Your Suspension Components

The suspension system is an interlinked system of shock absorbers and also several bars & linkages designed to give your vehicle optimal safety. Ultimately, this is all connected to the wheels, and a sharp impact could have either bent a suspension arm or a component of the hub assembly.

After driving, if you notice that there is a noticeable vibration/wobble in the car or the car is pulling to the left or right, there is likely an issue with your suspension. If you do notice the above symptoms, you will want to take your car to the mechanic immediately to resolve the suspension issues.

A wobble in the steering/pedals could also indicate that the rim has been bent out of shape or one of the steering rack components is bent.

If there are no noticeable symptoms as described above, you have likely escaped serious damage. However, if any of the suspension components such as the bushings or arms have been cracked, this could lead to premature failure on these components, you’ll want to get this checked at your next service.

Radar System

In modern vehicles, there are also several safety systems that rely on radar components. These components normally sit in the middle of the bumper so unfortunately there is a chance that your bump over the curb may have caused some damage.

Check that your adaptive cruise control & parking sensors are working to rule out any serious damage.

The adaptive cruise control normally has a module that either sits in the windscreen or in the middle of the bumper. If this component sits in the middle of the bumper, even if the system appears to function correctly, the impact may have caused the radar itself to be misaligned.

However, don’t fear as this can be remedied at a mechanic with knowledge & tools related to radar cruise calibration. If the calibration of your adaptive cruise control system is out, this could be dangerous as the system may not accurately detect the traffic around you.

Not sure if you have the module in your bumper or not? This would normally be quite obvious as a black plastic mound protruding from the center of the bumper. If the module is housed in the windscreen, you will typically see a collection of sensors in the top center of the windscreen.

Cooling System

Noticing any smoke/steam coming from your car bonnet after the impact? You may have ruptured or damaged part of your car’s cooling system. The radiator on a lot of vehicles is lodged just behind the bumper.

Any disconnection or rupture of one of the hoses connecting to the radiator could cause coolant to spill over hot parts of the engine bay, this could be why you are seeing steam. You should have the vehicle towed to your trusted mechanic if this is the case.

Disruption to the flow of coolant could also be caused by bent pipes, this may lead to inadequate cooling of your vehicle. If you notice that the temperature gauge is reading higher than usual, you will want to take the vehicle to your mechanic immediately to resolve it.

Exhaust System

The exhaust pipe(s) usually run in parallel with the driveshaft and run from the engine bay to the end of the vehicle.

An impact to the exhaust system could cause a rupture which could lead to excessive noise and exhaust fumes expelling close to the cabin – instead of out the back of the vehicle. The exhaust system is made out of strong metal and can withstand small impacts, so this is not usually a cause for concern.

Final Steps

Typically if the impact over the curb was very light, then luckily it is unlikely that you have caused any damage to the vehicle.

While there are some more serious scenarios, typically you would see symptoms of this after a serious impact.

A precautionary step would be to explain the scenario to your mechanic at your next service and have them give the car a good lookover.

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About Steve Freling

Steve has worked for more than 20 years as an automotive mechanic, and later run his own repair shop for both cars and motorcycles. He's a maintenance freak, and generally pretty good at troubleshooting!

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