My car hit the curb and drives very wobbly and unevenly now


#1

I was driving my 1997 Nissan Altima at about 35-40 mph today and my front left wheel hit the curb at an angle. After that, I pulled the car over to the side and it was driving very unevenly and jerky. While driving, the wheel was rolling crookedly. I was still able to turn the car, and the car still seemed to drive relatively straight. The wheel looks like it is bent, but it still sits straight (as far as I can tell) when parked. I had my car towed, but I’m anxious to find out what damage there could be. What could be wrong with it and how much might it cost to fix? Thanks.


#2

You probably bent one or both of the control arms on that side, along with the wheel. Repair costs will depend on whether they alone took the brunt of impact, or if impact forces were distributed into the steering system as well.


#3

I agree about the bent wheel and control arm diagnosis and would only add that considering the speed involved it’s also possible to have a bent wheel hub, damaged wheel bearing, or any one of half a dozen other things.


#4

Yeah, the car garage just told me that there is a bent control arm, wheel, and hub.
Also, he told me that that’s all the visible damage there is so far, but there may be more that won’t be known until those other problems are fixed. Could you give me an idea of what types of problems there could be?
If those truly are the only problems, what costs would I be looking at?
Thank you all so much for your help.


#5

It’s possible to have a bent strut, subframe, leading rod, strut tower, sway bar, steering rack, etc.
In regards to the subframe and strut tower these can sometimes be very difficult to inspect with the naked eye. Sometimes the paint may wrinkle or crack and this can be an indication of something being bent.

Often it may require replacing the obvious items (wheel, hub, control arm) and then placing the car on an alignment rack. The rack should then be able to show any problems not visible to the naked eye.

I can’t help you on the potential costs because so much depends on where the parts are procured, markup, shop labor rates (which vary a lot based on locale), etc.
In a few words - moderately expensive. If a problem exists in the subframe or strut tower then remove the word moderately and substitute “far more”.
If you’re carrying full coverage insurance on the car you might talk to your agent and see if they would cover this.

A 10-15 MPH impact can do a lot of damage so you can understand why a 35 MPH+ impact could really cause some grief. Hopefully the angle was such that nothing more than wheel, hub, and control arm was tweaked. Knock on wood.


#6

Not quite the news I was hoping for, but I guess it’s better to expect the worst.
Thank you, you’ve been a lot of help!


#7

Well, expect the worst and pray for the best! I’ve had to repair a lot of curb strikes, etc. and it’s always a coin flip on damage. Sometimes a mild tap does a lot of damage and sometimes a hard one does nothing more than bend a wheel and control arm.
In most cases the wheel and control are are the only parts damaged. I’m just trying to cover the bases in case other areas could possibly have suffered damage.

After the car is repaired and put on the alignment rack the shop should provide you with the alignment specs. They should gladly point out any problems that exist, if any. If you have any question on them post the specs bach here for further discussion. Basically, the specs should be close for both sides but may not be identical.