Damage after running in to median/guard rail?

Hello all,

I slid in to a metal guard rail on the side of an icy road yesterday at a speed of about 15 mph. The front passenger side of my car ‘drove’ along the rail for several feet before I was able to get back on the road. There was, amazingly, no body damage to my car. [1999 Pontiac Grand AM SE, 86000 miles.] However, my front passenger wheel was horribly misaligned-- it was bent (top part angled slightly away from the car), and was about 6 inches out of the side of the car. Of course I was not able to drive it.

It was towed to a GM dealer.

Today they say I need the following:




axle shaft


strut mount

strut nut

I find this a bit strange because I found several stories online about people who had hit medians at much higher speeds with far less damage.

They also told me the parts alone would be $1700, which is significantly higher than what I priced them as online.

In any case, my question is is it possible to have caused that much damage to the suspension system, given that there is no body damage to the car and that I was not going very fast?

Thank you so much for any information (even if it is “bad”).

Others who have hit guard rails at higher speeds probably had the body absorb the impact. This kept the suspension parts from absorbing the impact of the crash. However, body and paintwork is expensive. Even at $1700, you are probably coming out cheaper than had the body taken the hit and you had to do bodywork. You might want to check with an alignment shop that specializes in this type of work to see what the cost would be.

I agree with that.

Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty hard to say anything without looking at that kind of damage, but if you did, like Triedag says, slide wheel-first in to the median, then it’s kind of amazing that there’s not “control arm” on that list too. There is a lot of energy being transferred when your car hits something, and it just so happens that a great deal of it was transferred through that wheel very rapidly. Something had to give, apparently it was the knuckle and strut assembly. :frowning:

Ah, you’re right that in other cases the body may have absorbed some of the impact; I hadn’t immediately thought of that.
Thank you for responding!

Yes, I guess I did hit it wheel-first… that would explain the lack of body damage as well as greater suspension damage.
Thank you for your help!

Each case is different. I don’t find it unusual.

Your price on line is a discount price. The mechanic is buying locally and likely paying more than on line even after his discount and unless you want to pay him to look it up on-line wait for delivery, take chances on the quality of the parts etc. and pay more for installation because the mechanic is likely getting the parts for a discount and reselling them to you. If he does not get his profit there, he will want it somewhere. The point is don’t price it in pieces, price the whole job and don’t worry how it may be split up on the bill.

Three thousand pounds of inertia banging a wheel into a steel rail can do a whole bunch of damage. And apparently did. Now tonight when you bed down thank the good Lord that you only banged up your car and were not hurt. You could have been bounced back on the road and into the path of on oncoming 18 wheeler.

Okay. Thank you for the explanation.

Will insurance cover any of this? Even if you aren’t sure you should contact your insurer to see if yo can get something out of it.

I have seen worse damage than that from hitting a curb at high speed. If all the energy/inertia of the car was absorbed at one point you could have damaged that part of the car extensively. The weight of the car is a major factor.

A 15 MPH impact can easily damage every one of those items and JMHO here, but I know for a fact there is something missing on that list and would be willing to bet cash money something else has been overlooked.

The known part is the other strut. The car is 9 years old and you do NOT replace a strut (singular). You always replace them in pairs so the other side should be done also.

The “gambling” parts are the lower control arm which is more than likely bent, the wheel bearings (which I hope they’re not planning on transferring to the new knuckle), bent hub, along with possible tie rod and even sub-frame damage.
The strut tower (part of the body) should be carefully examined for paint cracking, etc. as that can mean the sub-frame and/or body is tweaked.
If the new knuckle is procured as an assembly then the wheel bearing/hub is not an issue.

I’m only pointing this out because I’ve repaired a lot of curb damage suspensions and it’s going to be a miracle if the lower control arm and a few other things are untouched. And what about the wheel and tire in all of this?

A GM dealer is going to be using OEM GM parts and these are generally higher priced than aftermarket ones. The price the dealer pays for those OEM parts are higher so the retail will be larger.