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Unibody damage to Honda Civic driven through deep snow? Something else?

My well-maintained 2005 Honda Civic LX Special Edition (unibody) got hung up turning into my driveway in a severe snowstorm last winter. This occurred before any snowplows had passed down the street. I called for a tow truck, which pulled me back out to the street, although I then had to barrel my way forward through a lot of heavy snow to get into the driveway—and still I got hung up while on the apron. But I was off the city street and so waited until the next day for a second tow truck to pull me out. This time when I drove forward I got all the way up the 30-foot-long driveway and into my garage.

I took the car to my mechanic a short time later and had him put it up on a hoist, to inspect for any possible damage. I watched as two mechanics checked it over; they saw nothing untoward, and I continued driving the car uneventfully for the last few months of winter. A few weeks ago, however, I started hearing sounds I did not like and by now the car creaks and groans loudly on turns, on bumpy streets, etc. It doesn’t pull left or right though. The car has never been in an accident and has a mere 15,600 miles on the odometer.

I plan to have a Honda dealer and reputable body shop look at the car, but in the meantime does anybody have any thoughts on what damage two short, if explosive, runs through deep snow might have done to my cream puff?

I’d cancel the visit to both the dealer and the body shop. I think you need a suspension expert look it over. I think the creaks and groans are in the struts and possibly the bushings. At 9 years old, any wear and tear in the suspension will make itself known with noises like that.

+1 to Busted’s post. My money is also on bushings.
Let us know how you make out.

It is not impossible that rubber boots on the CVT joints and other components might have been damaged slightly without being obvious to a mechanic. If the snow had ice in it for example, it could. Having said that, if it wasn’t so obvious as to be picked up, it probably won’t be more expensive to fix then most maintenance items.

Whether or not your snow driving caused the noises, stop using your car like that. You need to shovel the snow, not try and plow through it in a low-slung Civic. Damage can occur, either from when you “then had to barrel my way forward through a lot of heavy snow to get into the driveway”, or when the tow truck driver has to pull you out. Bad idea.

Driving thru a snow bank the plow piled up at the end of a driveway is a common thing in snow country.

Sometimes you have to get to work at 6:00 AM. And starting up a snow blower that early in the morning can get you ticket for violating the noise ordinance. Or you get home at midnight and again you can’t fire up the snow blower. And you can’t park the vehicle on the street because they have to stay clear for the snow plows.


I know, lived in Anchorage 12 years. But to have to be towed out twice? That’s a bad habit…

Just wasn’t going fast enough.:slight_smile:


Let me explain lest this item devolve into a driver’s education lesson:

My city was literally buried in snow from a daylong dumper. The snowplows were busy on highways and arterial streets when I came home from picking up my granddaughter after school, but residential streets were not yet plowed—so there was no ridge but only drifted snow, well over a foot of it. The only reason I could even get a tow truck was that insurance companies’ customers went to the head of the queue. The driver refused to pull me into the street a second time, citing his need to get to the hundreds of other cars stranded in snowbanks across the city.

Had I left the (white) car in the street overnight, a snowplow likely would have hit it, causing far more damage than what my “bad habit” driving may have done to struts, bushings or rubber CVT boots.

Texases, I did, in fact, shovel all around/under the car and clear the driveway with my snowthrower the next morning despite my advanced age and crippling spinal disease, but I still could not free the car. Then the plow came by and piled the street’s snow atop the back half of the car, which was sitting on the apron of my driveway, blocking the public sidewalk. Exhausted, I called my adult son, who arrived in his 4 x 4 and dug his mother’s car out. But he couldn’t get it to move—the snowstorm was one in which wet snow landed on a relatively warm pavement before the temperature rapidly dropped to 9 degrees below zero, and if you’ve never lived through one you may not understand how tires can whirl around on mush that’s turned to ice when the wind chill factor is 30 below. That’s when I called for a second tow truck.

Now, folks, how about if we agree to stay on topic? (That said, Tester, I have to admit I got a chuckle out of your “Just wasn’t going fast enough.”)

Agree @Tester.
It’s not unusual in some areas to have the main roads plowed and not only drives, but the side streets left with the plow snow wake to deal with. Generally we always have a shovel of sorts so just scraping it down helps. But city pow trucks can easily deposited some ice under that snow. I have no problem bouncing through with 4wd trucks with skid plates as that’s pretty much what they are made for. But I have also torn boots on the cvt joints of both a Subaru and a RAV doing this stuff. Cars just aren’t made for this stuff no matter how many “wheel drive” they are. But, late at night and your tired, some do it all the time…and pay for it. Besides, it’s cold outside but you’re in your car, toasty warm and listening to the stereo…what could possibly go wrong ?

I have to assume this snowfall was not predicted.

I agree w/the others, the groans are probably coming from some of the suspension components. Have you tried parking the car on level ground and pushing on the bumpers, one corner at a time? That might provide a clue. There’s also the possibility of a faulty wheel bearing. Does it sound worse turning one direction than the other?


Are you kidding me?

The National Weather Bureau informs us how much snow is going to fall and for how long. They can even predict how many inches of snow is going to fall per hour. Then if there’s any wind, you’re talking about drifting problems.


That’s what I was afraid of.

Probably was predicted, but this is the volatile Upper Midwest–the degree of the Friday storm may not have been known on Thursday. If it had, schools would have been closed on Friday and they weren’t. I had no choice but to pick up my granddaughter at her school. You don’t send an autistic kid home in a cab.

My friend also has a Honda Civic and was up at Lake Tahoe skiing. At night, on the way from the ski resort back to his cabin, a blizzard had piled up 2 feet of snow on the road, and he couldn’t see the surface of the road, being totally dark and snow coming down like crazy. He hit some obstruction, probably a big pothole, with his wheel, ruining the tire. In snow country this kind of thing happens. I believe his insurance covered part of the cost to replace the tire.

I live near Buffalo NY, On a small court that had 4 school bus drivers and a nurse that starts at 6am. No one call the police when we run our snow blowers early or late.

Predicted or not, sometimes you have to go anyway. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve bottomed out in snow and most of the time make it through. Its just something you do but never had any damage. I agree its probably just aging struts or bushings and unrelated except for the damage another winter of driving did.

Anybody who has lived for years in the snow belt who has to drive to and from work in a normal manner has had to blast through a plow bank or two. It’s gonna happen. I recall just after getting out of the Air Force coming home from discharge in a blizzard and the plows clearing the highway had left a banken across the exit I needed. There would have been no sense going to the next exit, 'cause that one would have had its own version of the same banken. I tried, but was unable to bust through it; there was no way to hit it head on. It lifted the whole car and spun it 180 degrees down off the side of the exit ramp. It screwed up the alignment and packed snow between suspension parts, but no real damage.

Back about 1975 we had a snow day after a blizzard so for fun we took the 61 Corvair with snow tires out to jump through snow drifts. One hung us up pretty bad and all four tires were off the ground and the car supported on the drift in the middle. A little rocking though and the car dug itself out with now damage.