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Hit a Huge Hole

So, I hit a huge “pot hole” last night on a road that was being repaired.

What I do know is that my alignment is totally jacked (steering wheel is cocked 45 degrees to the left to stay straight), but now when I turn right I hear a rubbing/grinding noise.

It sounds like rubber on plastic, so I’m hoping that just the plastic wheel well cover is bent or something, but I haven’t done a good inspection yet.

Any chance I busted a wheel bearing or a strut?

What else could make a rubber rubbing/grinding noise when turning?

It is clearly coming from the front passenger side tire.

I’ll take the car in for an alignment Monday morning and see what else they find. How much should I pay for an alignment?


You really won’t know until the damage is accessed. Could include a bent rim/ tire , spindle, bearings , steering linkage, or any number of things. Right now, it’s a guess. Could even be a damaged or now rubbing fender liner. If it has been “repaired”, I would make a claim to the town or whomever is responsible for the area. It should have been marked or not left in that condition.

Okay, I just looked at it. The tire is rubbing against the fender wall when the wheel is turned to the right. It’s almost like the wheel was knocked back (towards the rear end) a few inches.

Is this symptomatic of being way out of alignment or is something bent?

Ugh, control arm it’s sounding like.

Hopefully it’s just the lower control arm. I had a friend get forced off the road and hit a curb at near full speed. The tie rod was bent in a visible arc and the lower control arm was buckled. After replacing the control arm, we found out the mounting bracket was tweaked as well. We used the old control arm and a come-along to tweak it back close to original shape. Just enough to get a good alignment reading.

"Is this symptomatic of being way out of alignment or is something bent? "

Trust me…this is more than just an alignment problem.
Last year, a friend had a very similar situation with his car after he slid into a curb while going no more than 10 mph, and he needed to replace a lower control arm, plus both front struts (you replace them in pairs), followed by an alignment.

However, continuing noises at highway speeds later indicated more extensive problems, and he also wound up having to replace a wheel bearing & hub.

“Trust me…this is more than just an alignment problem.” I fully agree with @VDCdriver and this statement. Something is damaged and I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t multiple front end components. The front end can take multiple bumps and small potholes but not a huge pothole.

45 degrees?
I urge you, please do not drive this vehicle. Have it towed to a reputable shop.

Until you know otherwise consider this vehicle extremely dangerous to drive. Something is definitely busted. A wheel could come off, the steering could suddenly freeze, any number of manifestations is possible that could cause the death of an innocent person. Unless you want the death of someone’s child on your conscience, CALL A TOW TRUCK.

How much to pay for an alignment? Close to a hundred bucks is the going rate around here. But that’s the least of your problems. You’ve got some serious damage under there. I would drive the car no further than to the shop and plan on it being there a couple of days while they check it out, get parts, and repair it.

Agreed, there is a bent suspension and/or steering component; likely more than one. Alignment is a waste of time and money at this point.

If you absolutely, positively must drive this car to get it looked at I would suggest that you take the back roads and drive slow. Front tires will not last long with the car in this condition and it would be a good idea to inspect that RF tire carefully for any nicks or gashes it may have suffered.

@the same mountainbike is right call a tow truck. You did some serious damage and driving it may cause you to lose control and that could make for a very bad day.


It would help to know what kind of car, year, make, model. Most likely the lower control arm is bent, but on some models, the frame might also be bent so it would help to know the vehicle to see what type of control arm it uses.

I agree that you may be able to get some compensation form the municipality responsible for the road maintenance where this occurred. Your insurance may also cover this repair, but if you have a high deductible, that might cost you more in the end than it is worth.

I would not drive this car anymore. Unless the shop is just around the corner, I’d get it towed. If you drive very far, you will need to get new tires as well so a tow could be a lot cheaper.

It’s a 91 Buick Regal.

This is the control arm:

It sits a lot lower than the sub frame and other drive train components, so I think the arm just bounced down into the pavement.

There’s no road noise when driving straight, no wobble, and the springs look good.

If he wheel is moved backwards in the wheel well, then either this is bent or the frame is bent where it is attached, or both. Have you jacked it up and removed the wheel? If you have a jack and jackstands, I’d suggest doing this to check the lower ball joint.

If it is good, you might have bent the strut. Put the car on flat level ground and if you have a level, check to see if the top of the tire is canted inward. Compare both sides. If the top is canted inwards, it also pulls the front of the tire inwards the same amount. For example, if the top is canted in a 1/4", then your toe would also be in a 1/4" which would throw off the steering wheel and wear out the front tires in short order.

If the strut has a camber adjustment, you might be able to adjust it out, otherwise you would need a new strut. A sudden jolt can bend a strut where it attaches to the steering knuckle.

I have a gut feeling the last thing the OP needs is advice for DIY repairs. They are hoping repairs will be inexpensive. I’m afraid that is not happening. I think the chances of a 23 year old Buick Regal having collision insurance is zero. They should have the car TOWED to a reputable body shop for an estimate which is typically no charge. The OP can then weigh the estimate VS how much they value the car and make their decision. The OP should explore compensation from the city but should not get their hopes up. I suffered a similar accident in 2001.

The tire is level, not canted at all.

I’m currently renting a place and all of my tools are in a storage unit, so I can’t do any inspection here. If I turn the wheel and look behind the tire I cannot see anything that is clearly bent, but something is.

There’s an independent repair shop 2 miles away and I can take side streets to get there. Guess I’ll just have them look at it and bite the bullet.

The lower control arm usually takes the brunt of the damage on things like large potholes, curb strikes, and so on.

Other possibilities can be tie rod, tie rod end, wheel hub and/or wheel bearing damage, strut or steering knuckle damage, and some severe cases even the subframe and strut towers can be damaged.
You might consider eyeballing the paint on the strut towers very carefully. A strut tower that gets tweaked often shows some paint cracking in the tweaked area.

@Demo-Beta, the tire doesn’t need to cant to be out of shape. Point the wheel straight with the steering wheel, then look at the wheels from in front of the car. If both wheels are not straight together, please do not drive it.

If a 25"+ diameter tire is canted in a 1/4", you are not going to eyeball it, you need to use a level.

I’ll add one more thing:
If you’ve busted a ball joint, and you very well may have, and it gives way while you’re driving, the wheel will fold up under the wheelwell and the cost of getting it repaired will skyrocket… even if it doesn’t cause you to hit a bridge abutment. I’ve seen the damage this can do. It ain’t pretty.

I urge you, please call a tow truck.