Scraping the bottom of a car is never a fun experience. No matter how careful you are, it seems inevitable that at least once, you’ll scrape the undercarriage of your beloved car on rough roads and speed bumps. This is also more common in off-road and lowered vehicles.
Depending on which part of the under chassis was scraped, damaged body panels, parts, and sensors may cause expensive replacement or repair unless you install skid plates. So in this article, we will answer the question, “Will scraping the bottom of a car cause any damage?”
- Can you damage the underneath of your car?
- Will scraping the bottom of a car cause any damage?
- 1. Bumper damage
- 2. Fluid leaks
- 3. Body/chassis corrosion
- 4. Bad front-end alignment
- 5. Driveshaft damage
- How to avoid scraping the bottom of a car?
- 1. Be careful in bad weather
- 2. Avoid puddles
- 3. Be aware of the vehicle’s height
- 4. Drive through bumps at an angle
- 5. Install skid plates
- 6. Curb ramps
- What protects the bottom of a car?
- What should you do if you scrape your car?
Can you damage the underneath of your car?
Yes, scraping the bottom of a car on a curb or a speed bump, there’s a chance that it will cause mild to severe damage. If you’re lucky, it could be just a scratch on the bumpers. However, scraping the underside of the car can damage important car parts and components such as:
- Front Bumper
- Engine coolant radiator
- Tire rods
- Brake lines
- Transmission housing
- Oil pan
- Control arm
- Exhaust system
- Differential housing
- Fuel tank
Will scraping the bottom of a car cause any damage?
Yes. Although it’s very easy to neglect the parts you can’t see, scraping the bottom of your car while driving on speed bumps, rough roads, and potholes will cause damage to your car. Here are some of the most common damage:
- Bumper damage
- Fluid Leaks
- Body/chassis corrosion
- Bad front-end alignment
- Driveshaft damage
1. Bumper damage
When you accidentally scrape the bottom of the car, your front bumper is the most vulnerable part of the body of your car. The damage may range from paint scratches to cracks and splits.
Light scratches are easy to fix, while deeper scratches may reveal the bumper material. Cars with chin spoilers on their bumpers are most likely to scrape them when driving on high-speed bumps or rough roads.
2. Fluid leaks
Aside from your bumpers, the radiator, oil pan, differential housing, and transmission housing are also vulnerable to damage when scraping your car’s bottom.
When this happens, it may cause fluid leaks and, consequently, cause severe damage to your car. For example, engine coolant may leak from a cracked radiator. Consequently, cause your engine to overheat if not addressed immediately.
3. Body/chassis corrosion
Your car’s chassis provides the strength needed to support important car parts and components. An underbody coating is used to protect the chassis to prevent rust and corrosion.
Scraping the bottom of your car will also scrape the undercoating applied to your chassis. This eventually leads to rust and corrosion, especially when exposed to the salted road during winter.
4. Bad front-end alignment
Another exposed part on the bottom of your car is the tire rods. Tie rods connect your steering gear to the steering knuckle. Driving through rough roads with large rocks may hit and damage your tire rods.
As a result, your front end will misalign and track poorly. You notice this when your car starts veering to the left or right. Damage to tire rods may also cause bad wheel alignment and uneven tire wear.
5. Driveshaft damage
A drive shaft transmits torque from your vehicle’s engine to the wheels. It’s essentially the shaft that drives your vehicle. Since it is found in the bottom of the car, it is vulnerable to scraping when driving through curbs, speed bumps, and other large obstacles.
Vibrations and shuddering are the most common sign of a damaged driveshaft. If the damage is serious, you may also hear squeaking or clunking noise from the bottom of the car.
How to avoid scraping the bottom of a car?
You can do several things to avoid scraping the bottom of your car.
1. Be careful in bad weather
First and foremost, be extra careful in bad weather. If there’s snow or ice on the ground and you’re driving, you must slow down and take it easy. Likewise, you should slow down and watch out for speed bumps and potholes when driving to avoid scraping the bottom of a car. To increase visibility, make sure your headlights are working correctly.
2. Avoid puddles
The same goes for driving through puddles—avoid them if possible. Remember that rough roads are more likely to cause damage than smooth ones, so stick to freeways when possible (though this isn’t always feasible).
3. Be aware of the vehicle’s height
Another thing to keep in mind is the height of your vehicle. Suppose there isn’t much room between where it sits and where the curb begins or ends (which varies from city to city). In that case, it may be more susceptible to scratching by hitting curbs or even other cars’ bumpers when parked along sidewalks during busy times when parking spots aren’t plentiful.
4. Drive through bumps at an angle
To avoid scraping the bottom of your car, always slow down while approaching a speed bump, ramps, or any obstacle on the road. If your front or rear bumpers are lower than usual, you should approach the bumps at an angle. Ensure enough space in the driveway, and you won’t hit other vehicles.
5. Install skid plates
Skid plates were created mainly for those who plan to go off-road or lowered vehicles to protect the bottom of the car from scraping. It is made up of an abrasion-resistant material affixed to the underside of a vehicle.
But given that any type of car can run into unexpected road conditions, we highly recommend installing skid plates to protect the bottom of your vehicle from accidental abrasion. There are different skid plates for critical parts in your chassis, such as your engine, oil pan, steering box, fuel tank, and lower control arm.
6. Curb ramps
You should consider installing curb ramps if you constantly drive-through curbs on your driveway. A set of curb ramps serves as a bridge between the road and your driveway. Thus eliminating the risk of scraping the bottom of your car and damaging important parts. Rubber curb ramps are made of high-density rubber, which is soft and flexible but can withstand the weight of a vehicle.
What protects the bottom of a car?
In some cars and trucks, the underside of the vehicle is protected by skid plates or underbody shields made from plastic or rubber. While these materials can take a hit, they’re not indestructible. If you scrape your car on something hard enough, it could tear through the underside of your car and damage it.
Sometimes, owners must install skid plates or underbody shields after scraping their cars on curbs or rocks while driving off-road. They do this to prevent further damage if such an incident occurs again in the future.
What should you do if you scrape your car?
If you scrape the bottom of your car, you may be tempted to ignore the problem and keep driving. However, this can be a costly mistake. If there’s any damage underneath your vehicle, it will be much more expensive to fix than it would’ve been if you had caught it earlier.
To check for signs of damage, take off your tire and look at the vehicle’s underside. If there are any dents or scrapes in that area, take it to an auto body shop for an estimate on repairs (make sure they’re reputable so that they don’t try taking advantage of you).
If nothing is visible from outside, but there are still problems with how well your car drives or rides on surfaces like concrete or asphalt—especially over long distances—you should probably have someone look at those parts as well.
This article has hopefully been able to help you understand the importance of checking your car’s undercarriage regularly. Regular checks will allow you to identify any damage before it becomes more serious. If you are worried about scraping the bottom of your car and causing damage, we recommend looking into skid plates and rubber curb ramps, as they can protect your car from damage due to scraping the underside.