Undercarriage Damage: When is it Worth Fixing?

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Edgar Moulton.


Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

Damage to the car undercarriage is a common problem. Especially if you occasionally have to drive on a rough road with lots of rocks and potholes. Most of the time, damage to undercarriage is not a serious issue: it does not cause much harm to the car, and it is easy to fix. But sometimes it can be much worse and even result in some life-threatening situations. In addition, a neglected problem is quite difficult to fix. It requires a lot of effort and financial costs. This article will help you avoid such difficulties. You will find here information on what undercarriage damage is, how to identify and categorize it, and what to do if your car is no longer repairable.

What Does Undercarriage Damage Mean?

First, let’s clarify the following points:

What is an undercarriage? When we talk about the undercarriage of a vehicle, we don’t mean a particular part. Undercarriage is a system of parts on the underside of the main car body. These parts of the vehicle are hidden, and cannot be seen on the outside because they are exposed to the road. The car undercarriage includes the following parts:

  • exhaust system
  • suspension
  • axles
  • frame
  • wheels
  • brake lines

The main function of the undercarriage is to protect the mechanisms underneath the vehicle. The undercarriage should prevent dirt, debris, rocks and water from getting into the mechanisms of the car, as well as hitting the mechanism. And at this point we need to answer the following question.

What is the undercarriage damage? Undercarriage damage can include any malfunction of its parts, such as suspension, wheel, or exhaust system. There can also be various breakages, scratches, dirt, etc.

We will give some hints on why undercarriage damage occurs in the next section.

What causes undercarriage damage?

Car accidents are the most common cause of undercarriage car damage. A hard hit can do a lot of serious harm to all parts of the car. The undercarriage is not an exception. But still, it's not the only cause. Let's take a look at a few factors that can potentially affect your undercarriage, and how you can minimize or avoid their negative consequences on your vehicle altogether.

Worn out shock absorbers

This is a common reason for car undercarriage damage. Your vehicle is equipped with a shock absorber that cushions shocks on the road. The shock absorber allows your vehicle to drive smoothly even on bumpy terrain. But over time, shock absorbers can wear out and lose their protective qualities. In this case, the impact affects such mechanisms of the car as suspension, frame, etc. In addition, there is a risk of loss of contact of the tires with the road, as a result of which an accident may occur.

Therefore, it is recommended to have the shock absorber regularly inspected by a qualified mechanic. And, if necessary—to replace the shock absorber.


Potholes on the road can damage the car undercarriage and cause you a lot of trouble. If your vehicle encounters a pothole while driving at high speed, the underside of the car may be scratched. There is also a risk of more serious damage such as a crack, loss of fuel, and more.

In order to avoid such damage, it is recommended to steer clear of roads studded with potholes. You should also drive carefully in this case.

Rocks and Debris

Rocks and debris on the road can scratch the bottom of your car, cause cracks or more serious damage. Corrosion can also occur because of debris stuck to the undercarriage.

To minimize damage from road rocks, you should drive carefully and slowly. If you have the ability to bypass such a section of road, it is best to do so.


In cities with lots of snowfalls in the winter, salt is very often used on the roads. It helps melt the snow and clear the road. But salt inevitably gets on a car undercarriage and causes great damage. As salt builds up on metal surfaces, it can lead to rust and corrosion over time. To prevent this from happening, it is recommended to wash the undercarriage right after a drive.


If you have to drive off-road, you are familiar with the problem of mud stuck to the underside of your vehicle. The moisture the mud contains is the most dangerous to the car. The constant build-up of wet mud on the undercarriage can cause rust formation. As a result, there is a risk of damaging the radiator.

Don’t forget to clean the undercarriage thoroughly as soon as possible after driving on a muddy road.

We've described the most common causes of undercarriage breakdowns. If you avoid rough roads, and mud, and do regular undercarriage cleaning, you can minimize the chance of your vehicle breaking down.

Signs of undercarriage damage you need to consider

The sooner you find a problem, the easier it will be to fix. Below, you can find the most common signs of undercarriage damage:

Leaking fluid

The vehicle undercarriage protects certain components that carry fluid. If puddles of fluid appear on the undercarriage or in the wheel well, this may indicate damage. If this occurs, it is recommended to inspect the undercarriage immediately. 

Steering problems

When driving, your car should go straight ahead, turning only with the steering wheel. Here are some signs may indicate a problem:

  • The car is veering off course unintentionally while you are driving
  • The rudder is not responding well or not responding at all

This may indicate that the undercarriage is not aligned correctly, or that a part of your undercarriage, such as the control arm or steering knuckle, is damaged.

Visible damages

If you notice scrapes on the underside of your car or hanging parts, it's worth taking a closer look at your car undercarriage. You may have accidentally damaged it while driving.

Oil smell

A bad sign is a strong smell of engine oil. You may also notice oil leaking on the car undercarriage. This may indicate a cracked oil pan.

If your car has undercarriage damage, you may be able to sell it. At Junkcarsus, we accept vehicles with various types of damage. You can use the car depreciation calculator on our website to find out how much you will get for your car.

Also, if you wish, you can have your car repaired. In order to understand which parts of the undercarriage are damaged and how severe the damage is, you should conduct a detailed inspection of it. Read the next section on how to do this.

What to Do with Undercarriage Car Damage

If you notice any of the signs described above, it is worth immediately inspecting the chassis of your car. Read below how to do it.


If you hear something scraping the bottom of your car while on the road, the first thing to do is pull over to a safe place, and get out of the car. Now you can thoroughly examine the undercarriage. It is not recommended to continue driving without making sure that there is no serious damage, because it can put yourself and other people on the road in a dangerous situation.

Check for any damage

After getting out of the car, use a flashlight to examine the car undercarriage. Significant damage is easy to spot. When inspecting the chassis, pay special attention to the presence of such defects:

  • Scratches
  • Cracks
  • Leaking fluid
  • Dents
  • Broken parts
  • Engine oil smell

All of these damages may occur if you hit a rock or pothole while driving.

Determine the severity of the damage

When you find a problem, you need to categorize it. It is unlikely that rocks can cause some serious damage underneath a car. More often, they just leave scratches. Small potholes and scratches are purely cosmetic issues. You can fix them yourself.

But if you have serious damage, such as cracks, oil leaks, or large potholes, it is worth turning to a professional.

Also consider that you may not notice any damage. But your car will have a hidden breakdown, which can be dangerous. That's why it's still worth entrusting an auto inspection to a professional.

Let a technician inspect your vehicle

There are some problems that need to be fixed as soon as possible. And this job should be done by a professional. Those include the following:

  • Suspension damage. Suspension damage can be indicated by various noises, fluid leaks, and problems with the steering.
  • Damaged oil pan or housing. If the oil pan is damaged, you can see oil leakage. This type of damage can cause engine failure. 
  • Vibrations and noise. Strange noise can be caused by engine malfunctioning. Such a breakdown is quite dangerous. In addition, the repair can cost you an arm and a leg. Therefore, it is better to identify and fix the problem as quickly as possible.

Do not take a damaged car undercarriage lightly. Such a seemingly unremarkable and insignificant failure can lead to an accident. Therefore, it is not recommended to drive a car with a damaged undercarriage. Such a car should be sent for repair as soon as possible. Repairing the undercarriage, as a rule, is rather expensive— from $2,000 to $3,000. The cost depends on what the damage is. A technician can tell you the exact cost after a thorough inspection of the vehicle.

If the damage to your car is severe and cannot be repaired, you may consider the option of selling a car with mechanical problems.

Consider Selling Your Car to Junkcarsus

Most car breakdowns can be repaired. It will involve time and money, yes. But it's not a problem if the damage is minor and you love your car. But what do you do if the damage to undercarriage of a car is so serious that it is impossible to get it back in service? Or if the breakdowns have become so frequent, and you are on a tight budget? 

In this case, our company Junkcarsus can be of help. We buy damaged cars! We buy cars of different sizes, ages, and conditions for a high price. We can also accept a totally destroyed vehicle after an accident. You can leave an application on our website, and our expert will help you estimate the value of your car. After signing a contract, within 24 hours a representative of our company will be able to come to you and free car pick-up. On the same day, you will receive money for your vehicle.


Is it possible to fix car undercarriage damage?

Undercarriage damage can be repaired. First, you need to determine the type and severity of the damage. A professional technician can help you with this. Depending on the type of faults, you can choose the appropriate type of repair. Some undercarriage damage can be repaired very simply with a patch or sealant. But in the case of serious faults, the only solution is to replace parts or the entire undercarriage.

What happens if you hit the undercarriage of your car?

If you hit the undercarriage against a rock while driving, you will scratch the undercarriage. More serious damage is also possible, such as damage to the transmission fluid line or breakage of the oil pan.

What does undercarriage damage mean?

The undercarriage is located under the vehicle's body. It includes parts such as the frame, suspension, axles, and wheels. The undercarriage supports the weight of the vehicle and protects it from various contaminants. If the undercarriage is damaged, the first thing to check is its parts. For example, your car may have problems with the suspension. In some cases, the car becomes unusable.

How serious can damage to the undercarriage of a car be?

There are different types of undercarriage failures. The severity of these breakdowns also differs. Your undercarriage may have dents, scratches, oil leaks, and rust. Driving a car with a damaged undercarriage can be dangerous. Therefore, if there are first signs of damage, it is recommended that you visit a technician as soon as possible.

Edgar Moulton.


Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

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