enter image description hereenter image description hereWhen attempting to pull forward car stops & wheel does thisenter image description here

I have a 2003 Honda civic that was recently wrecked by my husband. After the wreck, my car was pulling to the right and my steering wheel had to be held firmly to the left. My step dad said my sway bar linkage, on one side, had broke but I would be fine to drive it still.

Well, today, I noticed a significant sway or like a weird movement in my front wheels on both sides. I pulled over and noticed the wheel at a complete stop was no longer turned towards the left but sitting normal. When I tried to pull out of the gas station it was hard to turn left, and I could feel and hear a noise in the wheels. I continued to try to drive to make it home and the car pulled to the left so hard and completely stopped. No longer moving forward. Reverse was still working I was able to reverse enough to manage to turn the wheel enough to put it back in drive and continue to make my way home.

Every light I stopped at proceeding to go the car would pull to the left come to a complete stop not move even put in neutral the car would not budge when pushed and as long as I reversed I could eventually get it to go forward. What COULD this be? I was told the linkage, ball joint or tie rod? Any ideas? Please I am completely in the dark on this.

  • 6
    Tip: if you take some pictures of the mechanical bits behind the wheels, we'll be able to point out the broken parts. Note: a lot of these are straightforward replacement parts that, on a 2003 Civic, shouldn't be super expensive.
    – Bob Cross
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 13:11
  • 9
    Also, in case no one else has made it clear, it's entirely possible that one or more of those wheels is about to come off the car. It isn't safe for any use. ... Now that I've seen the pictures, that wheel is trying to come off the car. We're all glad you made it home!
    – Bob Cross
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 13:18
  • I added three pictures. It was extremely dark last night when the problem occurred. But the way the tire is folding under the car I'm thinking this is tire rod? Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 15:16
  • 2
    @KDeeUnderwood it appears that your lower control arm is broken (this causes wheel to fold under the car, as you put it) and it also looks like your tie rod assembly is completely gone (this causes wheel to turn freely regardless of attempted steering). Your stabilizer links are also completely broken. Unfortunately, at this level of damage this car is not drivable in any sense of the word.
    – Dalton D
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 15:47
  • How did your alignment go after you got the parts replaced? Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 4:58

5 Answers 5


Based on the pictures that you provided, there are three things that are clearly damaged right off the bat.

  1. Your lower control arm is broken. This is the mechanism that houses your lower ball joint and provides upright stability to the wheel. With it broken, the wheel "folds" under the car as there is nothing holding the bottom of the wheel in place.

Picture of a lower control arm enter image description here

Lower control arm on a vehicle enter image description here

  1. Your tie rod assembly is gone. The tie rod assembly is what controls the steering of the wheels of the car. Each side of the vehicle has its own tie rod assembly that forces the wheels to turn in unison as you steer. With the assembly gone on one side, that wheel is able to turn freely without any guiding force to keep it in line with the other wheel. This is why one wheel turns as you want it to but the other stays in place or goes in an opposing direction.

Picture of a tie rod on vehicle enter image description here

  1. Your stabilizer links are destroyed on this side. While some may argue that stabilizer links are not mandatory to replace immediately, they do still play a vital role in the suspension components of your vehicle. They are designed to absorb some of the shock from the road as you drive normally. This is to prevent the car from heavily swaying as you turn and possibly lose control of the vehicle.

Picture of a stabilizer link enter image description here

The lower control arm and tie rod assembly are both mandatory components of the suspension/steering system. With either of these broken, it is too much of a risk of injury to even consider driving this vehicle.

  • 1
    I upvoted you and believe that there is damage to the lower control arm, but where in the question's photos do you see it broken? Is it not in the pictures, but you can tell from the picture of the wheel? Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 16:27
  • @ZachMierzejewski I can't see exactly where it's damaged, but to me it appeared to be broken on the further back prong of the control arm in the third picture. The picture is too grainy to actually see and not that great of an angle, so I just went with my best judgment (especially since the wheel behaves like the control arm is broken).
    – Dalton D
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 16:41
  • Thank you for the helpful info I am about to go buy the tie rod now & linkage, lower control arm has to be ordered hoping it is just damaged but not broken completely the car was crashed tearing down bushes and small trees. So it's very likely it does need to be changed anyways. I believe driving last night such a far distance caused my tie rod to fall off? I'm not quite sure. Is it the inner tie rod or outer? So I know which one to get Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 17:26
  • @KDeeUnderwood the outer tie rod is gone for sure, but I'm not sure about the inner tie rod. You'd have to get someone to look under there or look yourself and see if the inner tie rod is still connected to the rack and pinion. The inner tie rod should look like the straight rusty arm connected to the silver outer tie rod in the picture that I provided.
    – Dalton D
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 17:41
  • 6
    Had a mobile mechanic come out my tie rod assembly wasn't missing as it wouldn't be seen on the bottom but with the hood open just behind the air filter for a Honda civic and it in fact is not attached any longer. Thank you everyone for ur help. Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 18:31

I agree with resident_heretic - DO NOT drive the car again until it has been properly repaired. It sounds like you have multiple bent or broken suspension parts, and if the crash was bad enough to have done that much, there is a high chance the frame could be bent too (rendering the car irreparable) - get it properly checked by a competent mechanic to make sure it's square before having any repairs done.


Based on what I could understand of your description. I am surprised that that the vehicle would move let alone be driveable. Despite what your stepfather said I would strongly advise against driving anywhere until it is fixed. You would putting your life at risk in doing so.

Sounds like multiple issues- linkages,tie rods, steering rack and pinon unit, possible transmission issues and a host of other issues. I am speculating because you left out details concerning the crash. Personally I would recommend scrapping the vehicle because the cost of the repairs would be more expensive than what a thirteen year old vehicle would be worth.

  • 2
    Her life and the lives of other road users. Or people even just near the road. Driving it in that state was massively irresponsible. Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 15:50
  • @tj crowder: That goes without saying. There is negligence or even criminal negligence possible for all parties in this scenario. Starting with the husband who damaged the vehicle and did nothing to prevent his wife from driving the vehicle. The woman for driving a vehicle knowing it was defective. The step father for giving her bad advice out of ignorance endangering her life and potentially other innocent lives.
    – Old_Fossil
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 17:18

Everyone else has said it already, but to reiterate:


This car is a danger to yourself, and everyone who shares the road with you. Continuing to drive this car is irresponsible, and more than likely illegal depending on your jurisdiction. I imagine the damage is fairly obvious whether stopped or moving, and any police officer who saw you could cite you for "Improper Equipment", or even "Reckless Driving" depending on the extent of the damage. The officer would also be able to impound the car at your expense.

What your step-father said is completely wrong, this problem cannot be caused by a broken sway bar linkage alone. Have the car inspected by a QUALIFIED mobile mechanic, or have the car towed to a certified shop. Again, to be clear, do not drive this car on the road, you are putting yourself and others at unnecessary risk.


I may be crazy, but in the second picture it looks like either:

  • You only have two lug nuts holding that wheel on
  • Two of the lug nuts are so loose they are about to come off. It's hard to tell which.

In either case, the broken suspension parts, the chunk missing from the wheel edge, plus the missing lug nuts, the car is downright dangerous this way. Really glad you had it looked at.

  • the gutter rash on the rim doesn't really make it unsafe
    – RozzA
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 11:19
  • The rash is not dangerous I agree, but there is a piece of the rim missing. The impact was hard enough to fully deflect the tire and remove a chunk of the alloy wheel. I would be wondering how much more damage there is to that wheel that's under the tire. To me that says it's dangerous to drive on.
    – cdunn
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 11:24
  • i must admit to glancing over the picture, on closer inspection it does look like a really hard smack, that can cause metal stress fractures.. ..which is dangerous af
    – RozzA
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 22:22

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