How to check for damage from a pothole?

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 6th, 2019 9:26 am
Mar 28, 2018
49 posts

How to check for damage from a pothole?

So today I drove into a giant pothole and I heard a huge bang in my car. It sounded like something snapped in my car. I do not see any physical damage and dents on the wheels but I was wondering if it's possible to check for any internal or hidden damage without bringing the car to a mechanic. Thanks!
5 replies
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jul 30, 2007
28557 posts
possible damage can be done to the car:

suspension components
inner wheel crack which can lead to slow tire leak as one scenario
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2011
35228 posts
Center of Universe
You definitely bottom out.
Monitor the next few day or so and see if it's pulling in one direction.
Deal Addict
Jan 17, 2009
2966 posts
Toronto, Ontario
After having many flats/bubbles/bent rims from running low profile tires in the winter and hitting potholes my checklist while i'm in the car after a really bad one is:

  • Turn off the music and close the windows to swear and then listen for any bad noises:
  • loud humming: could be something suspension bent, wheel bearing damage (VW's are super fragile, broke 2 of those)
  • Vibrating steering wheel: wheel got bent, a wheel weight fell off, snow/ice is stuck in the wheel, or something expensive is broken
  • Stare at dash for 30 seconds and wait for "low tire pressure warning" to come on
  • Sit in silence for a little while and rethink my choice of winter wheels (don't do this anymore after downsizing haha)

When i get to my destination (if it was really really bad and i'm sure something is probably broken). A few times i've hit ones so hard i was positive i broke something and pulled off onto a side street to look:

  • check that wheel looks visually round (no obvious bends)
  • tire doesn't have any big bubbles on it, stick my head under the car and check the other side of the tire as well
  • Poke my head around and just generally look for anything that is visually damaged (ie fender and other parts of the bottom of the car)
  • Later on going on a flat road take my hands off the wheel and make sure it still drives straight
  • Later on do a hard brake and make sure it stops in a straight line
  • Next day check the tire pressure to make sure its consistent with the others. If it's considerably lower than the other tires then it might have some form of damage causing a slow leak.

Otherwise consider myself lucky and move on with life.
Mar 28, 2018
49 posts
Thanks for the advice. I will check for all of those. Sticking my head under the car seems difficult though.
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
12142 posts
Make sure to Document the area and start a claim with the city if you find any damage.

You may get lucky and they pay you out or not and you're out of pocket for the damages.