Driving on bumpy roads foir a day is fine, but going over the same road day-in and day-out can take a toll on your car. Many things can be affected by driving over bad roads every day such as your suspension components, wheels, and even your chassis.
As such, here’s an informative piece on what can go wrong and how to minimize the damage that can be done due to going over bad patches of road.
What can go wrong?
If you go over a bad bump on the road, your tires, wheels, suspension, and chassis take the force. Going over one bad bump isn’t that bad, going over several thousand can give you a bad time.
Tires - If the bump is bad enough and if you’re not running the right tire pressure, you run the risk of pinching your sidewall and causing a bubble to form. Your tire can get damaged in this way due to a bad bump or a sharp pothole that deforms and pinches the tire. This kind of damage means that the tire’s structural integrity is compromised and you need to replace it. If the bump is bad enough, you may need to grab the spare tire at the back and replace the flat.
Wheels - If the bump was really bad or if your car is rolling on very low-profile tires, you run the risk of bending or cracking your wheels. Out of the factory, most OEM-supplied wheels are strong enough to bear the weight of the car and take a lot of abuse. The problem lies with aftermarket wheels, especially those of the counterfeit variety. Running substandard wheels is dangerous and they could end up bending or even cracking if you do hit a really bad bump at speed. However, even wear and tear can take a toll on OEM-spec wheels. Over many years of abuse, hairline fractures may appear, and running low tire pressures and/or low-profile tires could accelerate this wear in addition to going over bad roads.
Suspension - Your suspension is next in line to get affected. The first to go usually is your shock absorbers, which will need a rebuild if you do feel that the ride is getting pretty bad. On the older side of things, your suspension springs may wear out and might not spring back to their original positions resulting in a lower ride height. This is due to metal fatigue, and again, going over bad roads and bumps can accelerate the wear of your suspension.
Chassis - Bad roads can cause your car’s chassis to deteriorate. Just like your springs, metal can fatigue over time. Modern car chassis are quite robust and rather stiff compared to much older cars. The result of a fatigued chassis is compromised handling and a feeling of instability while cornering or driving in a straight line.
How do you minimize damage?
So let’s get on to the advice. Remember that the faster you go, the more force your car has to take. Take note that going over a bump or a bad road will put weight on your vehicle’s components, and it can cause things to break or go bad faster. The key is minimizing the force that your components have to take.
Cruise, don’t slow down
For bumps, bad patches, and other car-destroying roads, make sure that you go over the bad parts smoothly. It’s a common mistake for beginners to hit the brakes hard whenever they see a bad patch of road, but this could cause more problems for you especially if you hit the brakes while going over some really bad bumps. The key is to be gentle with your inputs, accelerator and brakes included. Braking hard will put more stress and weight on the front, and the added weight could stress out your front suspension even more while going over a bad road. Of course, slow down if there is someone in front of you, even if you have to do so on a bad patch of road.
The key here is feel. Don’t go too slow to the point that you’re holding up traffic behind you, but don’t go too fast either wherein your suspension is getting overloaded and jumping around. Go at a moderate speed.
Go around the bump
Swerving is dangerous, so it’s important to keep your eyes on the road and make sure that you position yourself out of a pothole’s way. It’s better to plan your avoidance route rather than serving at the last minute. If you swerve, however, be sure to check around you to see if there is someone on your left or on your right.
If you can’t go around the bump, however, don’t slam the brakes. Instead, let your car take it without applying the brakes or stabbing the throttle. Just roll over the bump and take it. You'll do more damage to your car if you slam hard on the brakes and shift all the weight to the front. Either that or you can take a different route to your destination that has smoother roads.
Check your tires, wheels, suspension, chassis
It’s important to remember that manufacturers don’t build cars out of cardboard. You can trust that your car won’t disintegrate after just a few bumps on the road. While this may ring true for brand-new automobiles, tread carefully around an older car. With a lot of miles on the clock, it’s important that you get a general checkup. Usually, worn and broken parts can lead to catastrophic failures.
Thre are two things that you need to take note of, first make sure that your car is roadworthy. Failures can happen because of neglect and a lot of wear and tear, so make sure that you’re on top of your maintenance (not just oil changes).
Once that’s out of the way if you do encounter bad roads go smoothly. It may sound counter-intuitive, but don’t make any sudden inputs. If you can, avoid it altogether but don’t swerve aggressively to do so.