A rust-free question: Can snow damage the under-side of your car?

I’m not talking about rust or salt. I’m talking about snow that can congeal and harden especially if the temperature drops. Sometimes driving over this stuff, it can hit the underside of your car…

is there danger that it can damage the underside? maybe there are fuel lines or exhaust pipes that can’t handle the impact?

or there statistics about this?

or is it mostly unheard of?

When snow congeals and hardens, we call it ice. Ice can definitely damage the bottom of your car.

Statistics? It happened to me once.

For much of the area under your car, snow and ice won’t accumulate. The exhaust system and engine melts snow on contact, and vaporizes water. Even away from these systems, ice and snow usually will not build in any area except behind the drive wheel(s). Which is ugly but harmless, and you can usually give the clump a kick and it will just fall off.
Even if it did accumulate in other areas, it’s not your house’s roof. You don’t have to worry about ice damming or anything like that.
Other than that, snow can cause physical damage if you drive into a big enough pile of it at a enough high speed. That would most likely damage the exhaust system. Your engine has a very thick chunk of steel to protect it from impacts, and is much sturdier than the exhaust.

Your engine has a very thick chunk of steel to protect it from impacts, and is much sturdier than the exhaust.

Except for that one hunk of metal that holds the oil in place. I like to call it the oil pan. It tends to hang down and can be damaged when hitting a snow bank or accumulated snow build-up as you drive. The cars with cast aluminum pans are the most vulnerable, since the aluminum tends to crack or break when struck hard. Many cars include a plastic diverter that acts as a skid-plate to help prevent damage, but these tend to come apart as the car ages (I’ve seen many older cars missing this), and some don’t extend far enough to work this way.

There are also various brake lines and fuel lines that may or may not have an ‘armor’ cover over them to help protect them from snow/ice impacts.

Do you have a lowered suspension? That greatly increases your likelihood of having damage. You want to have the same or higher than the other cars. The other cars get hit and take the damage, while yours will be less likely to be damaged.

Of course if you live in Florida or Hawaii you are not likely to have the problem.

Good Luck

“Have You Lived Here Your Whole Life ?”
"Not Yet !"
I Have Lived Where Winters Are Long And Extreme And Pay Close Attention To My Cars, Top, sides, And Bottom.

I have never suffered any damage from snow or ice in over a couple million miles (We keep our vehicles on the roadway.). On the other hand, every car I’ve replace was replaced because of damage from that %$/! road salt and I have had my cars’ finish chipped and lights broken by the %$/! sand / gravel applied with the %$/*! salt !

Don’t get me started, but I wish I could drive on the snow and ice the whole winter. They (Road Commission) can have their salt and rocks.


Yes, if you drive over enough frozen chunks of ice (not snow), and hear them hitting things under your car, you can eventually get “lucky” and damage your exhaust, brake or fuel lines, wiring, etc. But it’s pretty rare. The stuff that will do the most damage are the frozen pieces that accumulate behind the tires of other cars and trucks, then eventually fall off and you hit them going 50+ on the highway.

More insidious is road salt, which can accumulate under your car if not routinely washed off. This can slowly corrode anything unprotected and seep into electrical connectors, causing a multitude of hard to trace problems.

What I do is to make sure I wash the underside too when the roads dry out and there’s going to be some clear weather.

I’m unaware of any statistics on this type of damage, but I can tell you that in over 40 years of driving in winter climates I’ve never had this happen. Statistiically it’s pretty rare.

Doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, CSA. The question was ‘was it possible’. I know first hand that it can be. It is not a common problem, but I’ve seen it happen. Usually with people that don’t know how to drive on the stuff, and either run into snow banks, try to push the car over snow/ice berms, or don’t know enough to avoid ‘ice boulders’ in the road.

The area most susceptible to damage from frozen snown/ice is in the wheel wells. Also of concern is the out of wheel balance condition generated by the accumulation of snow in the wheel rims that can also affect braking performance. Not using a car regularly can cause increase brake wear if salt is held in place and allowed to corrode discs.

BK, I Guess Under Certain Conditions That It Is Possible (On This Site, We’ve Seen Where People Cave In Oil Pans & Break Off Filters In Parking Lots!), I’ve Just Never Had Snow / Ice Damage.

I took the query to mean while traveling down the road. It wasn’t specific. Obviously, if a driver hits an object (rock, ice, bowling ball) in the road or parking lot then damage can result.

Ice is a mineral, after all, just like rocks, gravel and salt.


Snow shouldn’t harm the car. However stuff hidden by the snow laying under it, that is a potential hazard. Big rocks don’t generally lay in the middle of a road. Chunks of ice falling off trucks can lie in the road, and they can be just as hard as rocks if the temp is low enough. Chunks of metal can also be hidden; mufflers, shredded tires, etc. can hide under the snow.

The ice that builds up in the wheel wells and under the car can weigh the car down. When the ice dislodges it can jam into something and cause some damage. Is this likely, no. Does it happen, yes. Statistics would show relatively little to -0- “snow damage” compared to all the other hazards of driving.