Can speed bumps damage a car?
Consider you are driving on the road, whistling your favourite song, in a pleasant mood, enjoying the moment. You move smoothly and thud! That’s when your car goes through a speed bump, and you get the tremendous fright of your life. Sounds terrible, right?
Speed bumps are installed as a safety device for pedestrians and school children to slow down fast vehicles and motorists to avoid accidents. They originated in 1906 when the municipality of New Jersey raised its crosswalks to 5 inches above normalcy.
Since then, it has been used as a traffic safety device across the globe.
There are also many problems with speed bumps. They underwent various modifications to overcome the conventional disadvantage and transformed into speed humps, speed cushions, dynamic speed bumps, rumble strips, road humps, etc.
For more information about the role of speed bumps, feel free to discover here: What is the role of speed bumps?
The precise cause of damages
Speed bumps are installed for pedestrian safety and traffic control, as well as to regulate traffic volume. Problems only occur when you drive above the fixed speed. Always drive slowly over the speed bumps and thereby address their objective.
In short, the exact cause of the damage is your carelessness. Statistical reports indicate that the 80 percentile of the damages from speed bumps arise due to over-speeding.
Follow a speed limit of 20 mph (meter per hour) or below on a speed bump in city streets. The average speed should be approximately this value.
Speed bumps and their effect on cars
In most cases, damages occur because of overspeeding on the speed bump. It usually happens when you hurry to reach the office or rush for a meeting or in case of emergency vehicles like an ambulance, where slowing can offer significant risks.
Besides the road’s speed bumps, potholes also make it unsafe to exceed the speed limits and reduce speeding.
But believe me, the consequence is a poor-performing car and fatalities. With such damages, you will have to give large amounts to your mechanic to repair the vehicle.
Let’s see about the parts that get affected in the process:
Damage on tires
As long as you drive slowly, no harm can occur to your vehicle. Once you traverse through a speed breaker at high speed, the height can make your car be in the air and then fall onto the ground.
Now, the car hits the ground from a 3-inch height; thus, the side portion comes in contact with the road. This extensive impact can cause wear and tear on tires, and the tire can burst instantaneously.
Even though this depends on the tire material, it mostly depends on your speed over the speed bump. With an increase in tire pressure, the tires may burst. You may have to replace the tires eventually.
A solution is speed control. Discourage yourself from violating traffic signals and traffic signs.
Shock absorber malfunctioning
As you know, shock absorbers act as a cushion and absorb the impact from bumps or shocks, offering you a smooth drive. But there is an inherent stress limit it can handle.
If you speed over the speed bump, the shock absorber won’t absorb the impact completely. The consequences are bending of the device or leaking of hydraulic fluid. When this happens regularly, the shock absorber will be dysfunctional.
They can have a direct impact on the tires. Without a functional shock absorber, the tires won’t reach the road, making the car lose control with the increased speed. Therefore, the solution is to drive slowly over the bump.
Flawed exhaust system
The exhaust system is located at the lowest part of your car. So, speed bumps can have a significant impact on it, resulting in their deterioration.
Exhaust systems have a direct connection with shock absorbers. They are created in such a way as to withstand the usual speed bumps and vibrations during driving, where the latter can help them the same. They are also equipped with rubber mounts to absorb shock.
When you go too fast over the speed hump, the exhaust system may hit the ground along with the wheelbase when you land after the air-borne event, thereby damaging it.
This kind of rash driving can also deteriorate the rubber mounts, thus imparting more shocks to them. The overall result is a flawed exhaust system.
A damaged exhaust system reduces your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and mileage, produces loud engine noises, and brings down the overall performance. Since this is connected to the shock absorber, it has the same solution: DRIVE SLOWER!
Leakage in the steering system
Steering is an integral part that helps in navigating the car all along the way. Driving with damaged steering is the worst nightmare you can ever have.
Steering damage is also a consequence of a malfunctioning shock absorber. Currently, the system cannot absorb the impulse from bumps and, therefore, has to suffer any vibration that comes its way. The steering wheel will tremendously vibrate while driving.
As a result, there will be drainage or leakages in the power steering system, destroying the proper alignment, making it drift away while driving and making it difficult for the driver to steer the vehicle.
Loss of paint and rust
The paint adds exquisiteness and grandeur to your vehicle. You must have chosen the car in your favourite colour or painted it the one you like. Do you wish to lose it?
With a low-riding vehicle, frequent speeding over the speed bumps can scrape off the paint due to contact with the hard concrete speed bumps. It can happen mainly in the basal region, and you may let it remain so since it is not much visible.
Frequent contact with water and the outside atmosphere may lead to rusting.
Factors that determine the extent of damage
The extent of a vehicle’s damage differs from car to car, from each one’s specifications, and so on. It depends on the suspension system, tire material, brand, design, durability, etc.
For e.g., a speed bump that can hit a Honda S2000 very hard can make less impact on a Jeep Wrangler. So, the driver should have an excellent idea about the vehicle’s specifications to avoid future damages.
The basic principle is that the car should always be able to overcome the speed bump. Usually, manufacturers design the vehicles enabling them to clear a 5-inch speed bump.
Factors related to the suspension system
The suspension system has a spring and damper, whose stiffness determines the smoothness by which you can cross the speed bump. Sports cars and off-road vehicles have a stiff suspension system, while luxury cars own an open plan that is entirely smooth, too.
In the case of sports cars, they will resist the wheelbase going up to clear the height of the speed bump and, therefore, hit it. More resistance can destroy the system.
As with luxury vehicles, the smooth suspension system clears the height perfectly, with no collisions or damage.
The situation is somewhat similar to sports vehicles for off-road vehicles, but the situation is better here. They offer comparatively less resistance to weight and, therefore, overcome the height. Thus, the suspension system should go well with the road conditions.
Design of tires
Damages concerning tires depend on their PSI value, sidewall thickness, and overall profile.
Tires with low PSI values can withstand more vibrations. For e.g., a tire with a PSI value of 40 may have significant damage with speed bumps, while that with a PSI value of 20 will be able to travel smoothly through it.
Tires with thick sidewalls offer more durability. Since the sidewalls are affected while landing after being airborne, sidewalls need to be made solid and resistant enough.
Also, a large sidewall can transform the tire into a sponge for your big vehicle. However, more thickness can cause the tires to be insensitive to bumps.
Rubber speed bumps
Most of the damages took place while overspeeding through a speed bump. It is true that since they are hard materials, driving speed on them can cause damage. But what if we use an alternative? Rubber speed bumps form the solution here.
The advantages of rubber speed bumps are as follows:
- Since they are made of rubber, they cause the wearing of tires and produce less impact on the entire automobile system.
- It has long durability and suits all types of roads. Therefore, less maintenance, such as coating and polishing, is required.
- With reflective tapes, speed bumps are visible even at night. It helps the driver to slow down before the speed bump.
Now, you have a better idea of the damages that can occur to a vehicle due to overspeeding on the speed bumps. So, what is the solution?
You can keep bumper skid plates, but they can only protect the vehicle to a certain extent. So, the most straightforward and logical solution is to drive slowly over the speed bump.
Sometimes, you may not see the speed bumps while travelling on unfamiliar roads but try to reduce the speed over most speed bumps. Keep car skid plates for protection from taller speed bumps.
Using rubber speed bumps can significantly reduce the above problems. Speed bumps are essential as traffic control devices and should be installed. Rubber speed bumps create less impact on the vehicle, and using them is a practical solution.
Take good care of your vehicle. We wish you a safe and happy ride!
To learn more, we advise you to refer to the following pages: