I have a 1996 Grand Prix. During the last snow storm I slide into a curb with my wheel turn to the left. I hit the curb at about 15mph and after I hit my steering was off center to the right by about 30 degrees and the car wanders a bit. I know I need to go get an alignment but what might be causing the wandering. How do I check if the lower ball joint is ok? Thanks for any advice.
My advice is to drive (very slowly) directly to a repair shop and find out what was bent/broken. Do not use the car until it’s repaired.
The local shop can’t get me in until Tuesday so I was hoping that it might be something I could fix in the mean time.
No, I would not consider the car safe to drive and certainly not take on the freeway.
I agree, if the steering wheel is off by 30 degrees, something is likely to be very bent.
This certainly is not something you can or should even attempt to do yourself. Take taxis and get the shop to do a proper diagnosis and fix.
15 MPH is a pretty good wallop. With the steering wheel being off-center this means that something is more than likely bent. A curb strike usually bends the lower control arm. Sometimes this damage is visisble with the naked eye and sometimes it’s not.
If you replace the lower control arm then the lower ball joint should also be replaced. Often this part is available as an assembly.
I would also strongly suggest that you check the strut towers for any paint cracking, which is often a sign of a more serious problem.
The wandering is caused by the alignment being way out of whack and I strongly suggest you drive the car as little as possible and even then, only at a slower speed.
If you have a bent tie rod or suspension arm, it will happen.