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Hit a Curb ... what's broken?

Hi all,

So, my son hit a curb in his '03 Pontiac Sunfire with the front passenger tire … snowy roads, and he probably slid into it. I can hear a rubbing noise on right hand turns and frequently a really loud vibration noise. It “appears” that the passenger wheel is sitting about 1+1/2" - 2" too far back in the wheel well. So, what did he break? Should I attempt to drive (REALLY SLOW) to the garage or get it towed?

The following are probably bent, sway bar, tie rod and the place where the lower control arm attaches to the frame. You are going to have to have the car towed to a body shop with a frame alignment jig.

whoa, that doesn’t sound good at all … what kind of price tag am I looking at for this?

You’ll need a couple of estimates. You could start with your insurance agent if you have collision insurance.

I left something off the list, your son’s ego, and the wheel itself.

Thanks, Keith.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

A bent lower control arm is usually responsible for this but considering the amount it’s been pushed back I would suspect there are a few other things that are also bent; sway bar, possible strut, wheel, wheel hub, sub-frame, etc.
It’s also possible the wheel bearing and halfshaft could be damaged.

If you’re carrying full coverage insurance on the car this might be a good time to get them involved.

I would also recommend closely inspecting the top of the strut tower underneath the hood. Look closely at the paint around the strut mounting bolts. If you see any cracked or flaking paint then it’s definitely going to need some work with the frame alignment machine.

Not trying to be Mr. Doom and Gloom here but I’ve had to repair quite a few hard curb strikes, slides on ice, etc. and sometimes damage exists that is not readily visible to the naked eye.

Garage just called … ouch!

bent control arm - pass. side (replace control arm)
broken control arm bushing - driver side (replace control arm)
bent strut - pass. side (but, replacing both?)
crushed wheel bearing - pass. side (replace bearing)
bent alloy wheel ($216 refurbished, seems high)
$,1500 TOTAL

Does this seem reasonable?


Yeah, it does sound reasonable based on your description.

Has the young one learned anything from this experience?

Yes, the price quote seems to be appropriate, given the type of damage.
And, yes, both struts should be replaced, as struts are always replaced in pairs.