QUESTIONS: Could there be damage? What should I look for? What's under there that it could have hit?

SHORT STORY: Bottom of car (like under where the front seats are) banged on a driveway apron leaving a parking lot at a slow speed. I was almost fully perpendicular to the apron. The bang was one time and loud. Didn't notice anything unusual on the 10min drive home, nor during a brief undercar inspection (crouching over) at a well-lit gas station.

EXTRA CONCERN: I'm especially worried because I have a long, highway drive today and will be away for a few days, driving around NYC & whatnot and need my car to be safe & reliable.

CAR: I have a 2014 Subaru Impreza Sport Limited, 17k miles. Ground clearance = 5.9"

I'm a bit miffed that an apron would even be an issue for a subaru (off-road much??) but that's another topic for another time.

I appreciate in advance any input as to what, if anything, could be damaged, and what to look for.

LONG STORY: (if interested): Yesterday, i was leaving the gym and the road I was turning onto had recently been graded down. I knew this made the height of the apron higher than usual, so I drove VERY slowly as I pulled out of the lot. Still, the underneath of the car banged on the apron once the front tires went over it.

I stopped, but was kinda in the middle of a turn onto a major road, so I had to keep going. I angled the car more and no more bumping happened.

I had pulled into the lot earlier and no banging happened, so I figured I'd be ok pulling out. Unfortunately, because I was making a left, the initial angle was different, as was the fact that I was now descending to the lower level of the road.

As I drove, I listened and smelled and felt, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. No noises or pulling or burning, etc.

I stopped at a well-lit gas station and looked under the car for a few moments and didn't see any obvious dripping or sparks or crazy stuff, but not sure what other damage could have occurred.

Many thanks :)


  • If you can pinpoint the actual scrape point then you can make sure noting bent or poked (just scrapes). Best way to look is throw an old towel down and lay on the ground with a very bright flashlight. Find the scrape point look for fresh dripping oils or bent metal moving parts. Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 14:57
  • Thanks!! Can an adult human fit in 5.9" of space?? I no longer have my safety jacks. I was considering a selfie stick and my iphone on video! :D
    – maria
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 15:26
  • No need to get under just lay close to side and look under. Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 15:50
  • If you do want to video underneath anyway, if you lay down and reach under from both sides your arm should be long enough to get decent recording angles on everything without needing extra extension even if you can't quite reach to the centerline. Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 18:11
  • 1
    @PeterCordes - wow! I'm SO IMMENSELY flattered that you recognized good question-asking in my post AND I'm so grateful that you took the time to comment about it. Yes, I'm a fairly new user here, but I've been asking questions for almost 40 years. It's nice to know that I'm finally getting the hang of it. :)Like a straight-A report card, I'm going to share your reply w/my mom. It brings us both joy!!
    – maria
    Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 22:46

2 Answers 2


If it hit directly under the front seats, there shouldn't be much to worry about - most of the important bits are further forward or further back.

as @spicetraders says, try to have a look underneath and see if there are any scrapes or signs of leaks - a good torch/flashlight is essential.

No noises is a good sign, as the most vulnerable part in the middle of the car is the exhaust, and that makes a lot of noise if you break it...

  • 1
    super helpful clarification! Many thanks for the reassurance as well :) I'll be sure to listen intently during the long drive.
    – maria
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 15:28
  • @maria I have a 2013, and I agree that you're probably in the clear. I would probably run the car in the drive way for about 10 minutes (unnecessary), maybe rev the engine a bit, and check if anything leaked. Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 19:08
  • @BooleanCheese - thanks! Great tip with easy execution!
    – maria
    Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 23:03

Your car is ten years younger (and has 1/10th the miles) but I suspect I know exactly where you hit.

Most likely, the scrape you heard was the plastic under tray. This piece does what it says on the tin: it sits under the engine and catches drips, spills and leaks.

It has the side benefit of sitting lower than critical pieces (like the front differential). When you bang the under tray into something, it will make a loud plastic on asphalt scraping sound. This is in contrast to what you'd hear if you banged the front differential into something. That would sound much more like a scary bang and would possibly prevent you from moving forward.

If you get under the car, you'll see the piece I mean. It's about as wide as your arm span and extends from the front bumper to underneath the front seats. It will have some nasty scratches in it but that's part of why it's there: to protect the critical bits.

Give it a pat and say thanks. ;-)

  • 1
    MANY thanks for your thorough answer! Unfortunately, it wasn't a scrape I heard, 'twas a loud bang (like dropping a solid, heavy object on a hard, flat surface). I'd be less worried about a scrape. That being said, it sounds like if I did hit the differential (?), I wouldn't be able to move forward, which I can certainly do (just got back from a 300+ mile trip). I recall seeing the plastic part you describe and I didn't see any scrapes (I'm a fairly careful driver and the car is fairly new). Regardless, I'll definitely be giving it some love soon, adding it to my "pat parts" list!
    – maria
    Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 23:15

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