Everyone has probably hit a curb once or twice. In most cases, this doesn’t cause any damage. However, some curb-hitting incidents can damage your tires.
Tire damage from hitting a curb can vary substantially. How fast you’re going, the angle, and your particular car all factor into the damage you end up with. Keep reading to learn more about the odds of damage from hitting a curb.
Tire Damage From Hitting Curb
Damage to the tire itself is rare when hitting a curb, but it can happen. Often, superficial rim damage can occur due to scraping. However, damage to your suspension, tie rods, and control arms are also possible and much more serious. Examining your car after hitting a curb is vital to ensure that you aren’t driving around with damage.
There are many factors that affect if and how your car is damaged when you hit a curb. Plus, the damage can run deeper than you may think. Read below to learn about what to look out for if you hit a curb.
What Can Get Damaged When You Hit a Curb?
Typically, most people are worried about their tires when they first hit a curb. However, there are other parts of your car that you need to worry about as well.
If you just lightly bumped the curb, you may have some cosmetic damage on your rim. Of course, you can drive around with cosmetic damage, though you probably want to get it fixed eventually.
In these cases, the exact angle that you hit the curb at will affect the damage.
At high speeds, hitting the curb can cause the wheel to shift out of place, causing misalignment. Usually, you can notice this while you are driving. However, it can also strain your car’s steering and suspension systems.
Occasionally, the tie rods may also be affected. Sadly, damaged tie rods can lead to serious problems when driving. Typically, you’ll need to get them repaired right away.
When hitting the curb, you should take note of any steering wheel shaking. If your steering wheel shakes, it could be a sign that your cat’s control arms have been affected. Sometimes, your steering wheel may even continue to shake.
Sometimes, the collision can cause your tire to lose air as well. For this reason, we recommend checking your tire pressure to determine if the collision caused air loss.
Sadly, collisions that are strong enough to cause air loss usually cause other damage as well.
How Hard Do You Have to Hit a Curb to Cause Damage?
Generally, it isn’t about how hard you hit a curb, but the angle.
If you’re trying to parallel park and hit the curb at an extravagant angle, it doesn’t take a lot of force to do damage. On the other hand, if you’re driving straight, it requires much more force.
In the same vein, sharp curves are more likely to cause damage, as your wheel probably didn’t hit the curb at a very good angle.
With that said, it does depend on how your vehicle was constructed. On the one hand, small, short cars are more likely to get damaged.
On the other hand, very tall trucks and SUVs are unlikely to get damaged. Of course, their suspensions can be damaged even if their body isn’t.
Furthermore, the height of the curb also matters. Usually, curbs range from three to five inches tall, depending on the area. If you hit a taller curb, you’re more likely to get damaged.
Of course, the speed also matters, though not as much as you probably think it does. If you hit a curb going five miles an hour, the odds of you getting seriously damaged is low.
However, if you hit any sort of curb at fifty miles per hour, the odds of damage are quite high – even if that curb was small and you’re driving a truck.
What Should You Do If You Hit a Curb?
Usually, you can continue driving like normal if you hit a curb. Of course, you should consider the specifics of the impact.
If you’re driving slow and don’t notice any steering wheel shaking, then you’re likely good.
However, you should inspect your car at the earliest opportunity. In some cases, you might want to stop at a gas station or even pull over, depending on the severity of the hit.
If you hit a curb going over fifty miles per hour, I highly recommend stopping and checking the damage on the shoulder (if it’s safe, of course).
Firstly, you should check for obvious damage. Cuts, scrapes, and chips in the wheel and tire are big red flags. However, these can be aesthetic in many cases without indicating an underlying problem.
Secondly, check your car for obvious damage. Usually, you can bend down and look underneath your car to check for obvious suspension problems.
If you see parts hanging lower than they should be, it’s a sign that your car’s control arms or tie rods are likely damaged.
Finally, get back in the car and note any steering problems. Sometimes, these are pretty obvious. Other times, you might not notice until you try to make a particular maneuver.
If the wheel is shaking, it’s an obvious sign that something is wrong.
As we previously stated, misalignment can also occur. Sometimes, you can tell your tires are unaligned by your steering. However, this isn’t always the case.
How Do You Know You Hit a Curb?
In many cases, hitting the curb should be pretty obvious. Often, you’ll jump up onto the curb.
Usually, it feels like you ran over something – except you stay on top of that thing until your tire leaves the curb.
Other times, you may only feel a slight bump. In other words, it may feel like something is pushing up against your wheel. Often, this occurs when you bump into a curb but aren’t going fast enough to actually jump over it.
In these cases, the damage is often minimal. However, it can affect your rim and tire. Sometimes, superficial scraping occurs from gently bumping a curb.
Typically, hitting a curb is obvious. However, it can be a bit difficult to determine in some cases. If you aren’t quite sure if you ran over a curb or not, I would still recommend inspecting your car for damage.
Does Insurance Cover Hitting a Curb?
For the most part, it depends on your insurance. Comprehensive insurance usually covers hitting a curb. In fact, comprehensive often covers everything that might happen to your vehicle. If you want your car completely covered, then get comprehensive.
On the other hand, liability insurance only pays for damages caused by your vehicle to another person. Usually, this sort of insurance is required legally if you’re going to drive anywhere.
However, liability does not cover damage to your car, whether there is another person involved or not. Therefore, hitting a curb would not be covered under liability-only insurance.
Of course, you can always check your insurance’s specific guidelines for hitting curbs. Often, it is clearly stated in the contract whether or not this sort of damage is covered.
To know more about tires, you can also see our posts on how do nails get in tires, sidewall tire damage, and if plugging a tire is safe.
In some cases, direct tire damage can occur if you hit a curb. Sometimes, you may even hit a curb so hard that your tire loses air.
Superficial scraping and denting on the rim can also occur, especially if you hit the curb at an odd angle.
With that said, other types of damage can also occur and are often more serious. For instance, you can misalign your car’s suspension, leading to uneven tire wear and blowouts. In some cases, your steering may also be affected.