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Do Speed Bumps Wreck Your Alignment?

Stephen Fogel
January 15, 2019

Speed bumps are a fact of life for drivers — they’re all over residential streets and parking lots. You might find them annoying, but can they actually damage your car?

Used as a way to slow down traffic for increased safety, speed bumps can have some bad consequences for people who drive over them too quickly. Take them too quickly, and your front-end alignment will suffer. 

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Speed bumps vs. speed humps

There are two basic types of speed bumps. The more common, and troublesome, ones are steeper and more abrupt. They’re usually 3 to 4 inches high and about a foot from front to rear. These speed bumps require you to slow way down to avoid scraping the underside of your car or bottoming out your suspension on them. 

The other type, known as speed humps, are longer and more gradual. They’re also 3 to 4 inches high, but are anywhere from 5 to 14 feet from front to rear. They’re gentler on you — and on your vehicle, as long as you’re not speeding. 

Both types are meant to cut down on reckless driving and help prevent accidents in areas that see a lot of pedestrians and parking.

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Speed bumps cause problems

While they’re meant as a protective measure, speed bumps have plenty of downsides — including the damage they can cause to vehicles. 

If you don’t see them in time, or don’t slow down enough, speed bumps can certainly wreck your alignment. But they can also damage parts of your steering or suspension systems, like shocks, struts and joints, as well as exhaust parts, the chassis, body panels or oil pan.

Particularly vulnerable are vehicles with little ground clearance, as well as cars with low front spoilers or air dams. The stress of going over speed bumps can also make existing damage worse.  

But speed bumps can cause other issues, too. They’re expensive to install, maintain and remove, and they can bring down property values of nearby homes. They can increase air and noise pollution, as cars accelerate after clearing them. And they can reduce the response time of emergency vehicles. 

Some cities have had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove speed bumps after complaints from first responders and residents.

Strategies for driving over speed bumps safely

There’s really only one reliable way to avoid wrecking your alignment and damaging your vehicle: Go slow. 

Driving over the speed bump slowly should keep your alignment in order and eliminate most of the scraping and bottoming out that can happen. If you have low-hanging body parts on your car, especially in front of your wheels, you may have to approach speed bumps diagonally instead of head-on to avoid scraping. Just make sure it’s safe to do so. 

Stephen Fogel

About the Author

Stephen has been an automotive enthusiast since childhood, owning some of his vehicles for as long as 40 years, and has raced open-wheel formula cars. He follows and writes about the global automotive industry, with an eye on the latest vehicle technologies.

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