I live in Michigan where potholes are plentiful. I hit a big one the other day that really jarred my car. I don't see any obvious damage on or around the tires, but I'm not really sure what to look for. What's most likely to be damaged from a pothole? Will it be obvious? Can it bend or misalign anything that might not be noticeable?
I also live in Michigan and understand that potholes can cause a lot of damage. If major damage happens, it is usually noticeable right away by how the vehicle handles and drives.
Other damage, like misalignment, can happen over time from hitting many potholes.
Here are some areas that can get damaged by potholes. Not all are typical, but with larger and deeper holes, more damage can occur under the car.
- Bent shocks or struts
- Suspension, including broken components
- Steering, misalignment
Some people who live in areas prone to potholes have the alignment checked each spring.
If you damaged a suspension or steering part like a control arm, spring or a steering part like a tie rod, it usually shows up as a "pull" to one side while driving, inability to stay in your own lane, and excessive tire wear. Potholes usually don't damage the control arm or tie rods, but they can blow out a strut. Listen for more "bouncing" on the side where you hit the pothole. Read this post on what contact damage looks like