It happens a lot: a sickening thud, followed by the jolt of an impact between your car and something solid like a post, curb, or other obstacle. With your heart in your throat, you emerge to see — well, nothing, or at least nothing that resembles real damage.
Feeling relieved, you get back into your car and drive away without a backward glance. What you may not know is that even small bumps that leave no damage to the car's bumpers or fenders can still cause unseen auto repair problems to develop later.
If you have recently been involved in this type of single vehicle accident with no immediately discernible damage, here are some good reasons to swing by an auto repair shop and have your car checked over.
The problem with curbs and potholes
If the impact you felt was with a curb, large pothole, or other obstacle in the road and you ran over it, your car may seem fine at first. But actually, the development of one or more repair issues may have been put into motion.
For example, running over a curb or parking barrier can damage the belts inside the tires and cause them to pull apart or warp. As you continue to drive the car with this type of tire damage, you may find that the car begins to vibrate unsafely when driven or pull toward one side or the other.
Other problems that can occur from running over curbs or driving through potholes include cracked or broken brake lines, cracked wheels, and holes in transmission and oil pans capable of causing leaks.
The problem with bumping into stationary objects
Another seemingly minor accident that can result in later car repairs is when bumping into a solid, stationary object throws the alignment out of whack. Newer cars are designed with complicated alignment features to provide ease of steering and a smooth ride.
Fender benders that involve the front end of the car, such as those where you strike a post, the corner of the garage, or a tree at a very low speed, are more apt to cause alignment problems than jolts to the rear end of the vehicle. Misalignment symptoms include feeling the vehicle pull to one side, the development of vibrations and noise, and uneven tire wear issues.
The safest policy for drivers to adhere to is to always have the vehicle checked by a reputable auto repair specialist after the occurrence of any minor accident.