Front left wheel damage

Tiny
ROBMAN3258
  • MEMBER
  • 2006 CHEVROLET IMPALA
  • 3.9L
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 156,000 MILES
Ran into a curb going about 5-7 mph in a parking lot. Afterwards the wheels were hard to turn. I looked at the damage and there was no body damagebut the left tire was pushed back toward the back part of theveheel well. Also, one wheel faces left while the other other is straight. I needed to move into a parking spot. At that point the left wheel stays in one spot while right wheel turns easily. I'm trying to figure out what I could have damaged.
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Friday, March 15th, 2019 AT 1:49 AM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Do you mean the left wheel doesn't turn when you turn the steering wheel? That would indicate the outer tie rod end separated. To verify that, if you tug hard on that tire, you'll be able to turn it left and right by hand. Be very grateful that didn't happen on the highway, which is fairly common on one other car brand. An alternate clue here is with a front-wheel-drive car with a broken tie rod end, that wheel will turn toward the center of the car when you try to accelerate forward, and it will turn away from the center of the car when trying to go backward. A tie rod end will not separate from such a low impact unless it was already badly worn. That wear can be expected at the mileage you listed, but there would have been symptoms that were being ignored. The direction the car was going would change between accelerating and when braking, and constant steering corrections would have been needed. Worn tie rod ends will clunk at various times too, but the noise they make is often too subtle to hear.

If the left wheel does turn when you turn the steering wheel, the most likely cause for the two wheels to be steering in different directions is the inner tie rod bent. To be so easily noticeable at the wheels, the tie rod end will have to be bent more than enough to be easy to identify during an inspection.

It's also possible the lower control arm got bent, but this model isn't exactly built that flimsy. Without seeing the damage, I suspect you're just seeing that tire moved to the rear of the wheel opening because it is turned to the left.

The car needs to be inspected, and the best place for that is a tire and alignment shop. If you can steer the car, you might be able to drive it there very slowly if you don't have to go very far. We've had multiple cars with tie rod ends separate as they were driven over the sidewalk, coming into our parking lot. We got those into the shop with one person driving and another person walking alongside kicking the tire to keep it going in the right direction. Obviously you don't want to do that in the street. If the car can be driven, this is going to be very hard on both front tires. Both will be sliding on the road surface. That will wear them out very quickly. They can be sacrificed if they need to be replaced anyway, but call a tow truck instead if the tires are in good shape, so they don't get damaged.
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Friday, March 15th, 2019 AT 5:31 PM

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