Q: Front end after ditch

asked by on December 30, 2016

Hello, My daughter hit black ice and ended up in the ditch at about 40 mph. She was pulled and towed home, although the tow guy and others seemed to believe there appeared to be no issue other than the front bumper and grill guard.

The car started having a shake after a couple days and the wheel lugs busted through the rim or at least 3 out of 4 did.

The rim was replaced with new lugs and bolts. We purchased a new hub and bearing also but did not replace it as they did not appear damaged. The tire was mounted and balance onto the new rim. Tire shows no damage either.

She again drove the car for a couple days and the shake is back at 40 mph.

Any ideas?

Thank you Paula

Hi Paula...what you are describing is not unusual and is readily repaired excepting under one circumstance and that is if the collision caused any damage to the sub-frame and/or the mounting bosses that hold the control arms. All other parts involved are modular, "bolt on" and are readily replaceable in the field. Any rotating element, such as a tire and wheel assembly, is going to have a residual imbalance. Normally, you do not feel the "residual" at all because the tire/wheel assembly is held very rigidly in place by the strut, control arm and tie rod end. With regard to the vibration at 40 MPH, my initial guess is one or more suspension components has been damaged and may be loose. So long as the frame of the car is not damaged, this is totally repairable but of course there are going to be components that probably are going to have to be replaced. An initial possibility, which will at least indicate the extent of the damage, is to see if you can get a free alignment "check" with a read-out of the present settings. Some shops will do that as a courtesy. They are not adjusting anything; the machine is merely used to measure the present status of he alignment. A mechanic could use that data, as a part clue, to determine where and how bad the damage is. If, for example, the wheels read as reasonably aligned right now (i.e., not too far out) that would be indicative of simply loose parts (again, loose parts will allow that residual imbalance to be transmitted and felt by the driver). Another possibility is simply schedule a visual inspection and road test with one of YourMechanic’s certified mechanics. An inspection of the front end would reveal the damage that likely needs to be repaired. At that point the Mechanic could estimate the repair for you. Once new parts are installed, the vehicle must be aligned on appropriate equipment in a professional shop. Please let us know how we can assist you further with this issue.

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