Did I damage my undercarriage?


I drove over a speed bump that had come loose on my street. A spike was sticking up. As I slowly drove over it, I heard a scrape near the front of my car. When I got out to check, the spike was totally bent over. I looked under my car and saw nothing handing down. For the past 5 days, I have checked for any drips or leaks, but there has been nothing. I haven’t heard any noises or smelled anything unusual. The splash shield doesn’t even look scratched. Is it possible that I didn’t damage anything? If I punctured anything, would I have noticed anything? Would the car’s computer have alerted me after 5 days?

I drive a 2011 Audi A5. Please help me!!

You didn’t mention if there was any change in the car’s performance after the incident, but…
if there is no change in the car’s performance…
if there are no leaks (I REALLY hope that you are personally monitoring fluid levels, rather than just assuming that there are no leaks because you see no fluid leaking!)…
if there are no unusual noises, and…
if there is no visible physical damage…
…then I think you can safely assume that all is well.

Incidentally, the car’s computer only monitors emissions and related functions.
There is no trouble code for, “you drove over a spike”!

But, in any event, you should carefully check the levels of all of the car’s fluids.

I’m assum;ng you are certain yo didn’t hit the spike with your tires. If you think this a possible that you did, you should have your tires inspected straight away as it would be a safety issue.

Suggest as mentioned by VDC that you keep a check on the car’s fluid levels. Oil, coolant, brake fluid especially. Those are usually easy to check just by lifting the hood. Keep your nose on the problem too. Gasoline — evenn in small amounts – is easy to smell.

It’s totally possible little to no damage was done. Most newer cars have center engine mount brackets, and that might have taken the hit and bent the spike over before the rest of the car went over. But you’d have to be a little lucky too. Maybe that was your lucky day. If everything seems fine and nothing’s leaking and the car runs as before, suggest you ask for a visual inspection the next time you have your oil changed. Now may be a good time to do that if it is coming due anyway.

You would be surprised at the number of tough and durable components under your car capable of bending a spike…if you’re lucky enough to hit them. A thorough inspection at the next service as suggested by others is in order.

“suggest you ask for a visual inspection the next time you have your oil changed”

That is a good suggestion–IF the OP uses a real mechanic for service.
If he asks the kids at Jiffy Lube (or its clones/competitors) to inspect for damage, they would have no clue as to what they were looking at.

There is heavy steel under some parts and nothing under others. You probably got lucky but the only way to tell for sure is to get it up on a lift or crawl under it and take a look at where the scratches are.

Thanks, everyone for your comments! I am checking everything as carefully as I can. I haven’t noticed any change in driving performance. The one thing i am not worried about is the tires since the spike was at about the center of the car. I will continue to watch the display to see if fluids go down unusually. As one of you mentioned, I will keep smelling for gas. My next service is already scheduled for April. My appointment is at the dealership.

The day it happened I was so upset. The people at work told me the same things as some of you did: that shield probably protected the car and the scratch I heard was the spike bending. I did not hear the scratching under the middle area of the car, it was more to the front.

I hope I did get lucky. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to answer my question. I’ve been kicking myself for the past week for being so stupid!

Quite possible you hit the radiator support. It’s a strong hunk of metal, right up at the front, and spans almost the entire car width, but it’s often pop-riveted in place, and the rivets can break. Sometimes they’ll break a little bit, and then slowly over time the vibrations of driving will break them the rest of the way, so you’ll want to check those carefully. If they break all the way, the radiator and air conditioner condenser lose support and flex around, and eventually will spring a leak and dump refrigerant and antifreeze. This gets expensive to fix. The good news is that if you catch it early, it’s very easy and cheap to put new rivets in.

I would take it in without delay. Any number of things could have been damaged that don’t immediatly give warning signs. A slightly bent tie rod could ruin an expensive set of tires. And since Audis are expensive to repair and are not known for reliability why take a chance?

It’s also possible that the spike was already bent when you went over it.

Buy some ramps at the local big-box store, drive up on them, slide underneath (engine off and parking brake engaged), and take a look-see. You’ll see more that way than we can see over the internet.

Sounds like you got lucky. A good inspection with the car on a lift is the only way to be 100% sure though.

@81071 "I will continue to watch the display to see if fluids go down unusually.’

You need to actually check these fluids visually. As these “displays” often will not register anything until the fluids are at the minimum critical level. If you are unsure how to check your fluids now would be a good time to have someone show you. And there after do it on a regular basis, those dash displays can and do malfunction so an actual human checking every now and then can’t hurt.