(Not car savvy, but would like to know why I almost died. Also not sure if this goes here. There’s a tldr)
I was driving home in my 2003 Chevy Cavalier (mi:213,273) today, when it was almost like the brake was stomped and I heard a squeal/grind. I was nearly at 70mph when this happened, so needless to say it was jarring.
And to be absolutely clear- there wasn’t anyone or anything near me. No cars, road hazards, didn’t run off the side of the road. It caught me completely off guard.
After I realized I was not in fact dead I continued toward home. It was a bit rough- a little wobbly, difficulty reaching 55 mph (15mph below the limit on this stretch), but I got home.
I get out to check on my car,and first thing noticed EVERY body pannel had shifted, if only just a bit (one has a gap of an inch and some change), the driver’s side fog light was MIA, both headlights had shifted, windshield cracked where it meets the hood on the driver’s side, some abnormal (imo) in body panels (spider webbed but maintained original shape, deep v shaped dent [driver’s side, about a foot back from the headlight, ~4" deep], most damage not near each other but also primarily toward the front of the vehicle, etc).
I looked underneath the car from the side and noticed some bars (supports?) that ran the width of the car we’re bent, as well as the entire length of the car being bent in a barely noticeable curve with the seam of the front and rear doors marking the center (more or less), and this is also when i noticed that each bottom of all four tires was protruding outward from the car while the tops tilted toward the car. The brakes (or what I think are the brakes- visible through the rim, round, diameter of about 8"[?]) are rusted around the rim and edge, and worn down to smooth shiny metal notably deeper than said rust.
(I understand this is some sort of style, but it was a result of [UNNAMED FORCE] as opposed to choice)
I pop the hood, the engine is tilted noticeably farther toward the rear of the car, with components slightly skewed throughout the whole compartment. And black liquid right on the other side of the radiator from the front (couldn’t figure out what part it was for sure, sorry)
I live on a steep hill with a very rough driveway since I bought this car new.
When turning at an angle of more than ~40 degrees, ~15mph/hitting shallow potholes there had been a popping sound that sounded like it was coming from the front passenger side (had been going on for about a year before the accident)
Medium potholes turn everyone into a bobblehead, large ones can kinda hurt.
Engine stuttered violently while running, less so when in park or neutral than in drive (had been going on for at least five years). The shaking would get significantly more violent, then the engine would shut off.
Maintenance pretty much consisted of tires, oil refill (didn’t actually change it as often as I should), and topping off the “coolant” (water). I think there was an alignment or two since 2003, bit not since 2012.
TLDR: My car randomly braked violently while getting up to interstate speeds, there’s severe(?) frame damage, engine compartment is shaken up a bit.
A reason for that insanity would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for your time!