Do speedbumps damage a car's suspension?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

On my way to work every day, I go over several speed bumps on a certain street. Can this in any way hurt my car over a long period of time?

TOM: It certainly can, Meredith. We're rushing you a copy of our pamphlet "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Knowing It," in which we cover this very issue (by the way, anyone can get a copy by sending $3 to......). Speed bumps are one of those things that can really turn a car to junk.

RAY: If you want to know what your car experiences on speed bumps, try riding over one yourself on a bicycle. You feel that tremendous jolt to your...uh..."shock absorber?" Well, the same jolt is delivered to your car's suspension. And it basically pushes every piece of the suspension to its limit. That means everything bangs together. And when things bang together, they eventually wear out.

TOM: And it's even worse than that, because the suspension is attached to the rest of the car. So that jolt gets transmitted through everything else as well. Each time you hit a big bump, the fenders get a little looser, the windshield creaks a little more, the dashboard develops a few extra rattles. And before you know it, every time you go over a bump, the glove box flies open, the radio stops playing, and your visor falls down in front of your eyes. And this is exactly how cars get turned into heaps.

RAY: So drive slowly over things like speed bumps, pot holes, and railroad tracks. And slowly means, like five miles per hour.

TOM: Driving very slowly over speed bumps helps minimize the force of the shock. Or if you're not willing to drive that slowly, and least have the foresight to drive up on the sidewalk and avoid the bump.

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