• Here’s How Speed Bumps Affect Your Car At Speed - Ouch

Now might be a good time to be careful of those speed bumps

Warped Perception, the Discovery Channel and YouTube show that’s best known for demonstrating the real score on the goings-on in your cars, is back with another video demonstration. After giving us a good look at what happens to a car after being subjected to the nuisances that are potholes, the show’s tired and battered see-through Mercedes E-Benz Class returns to tackle another perpetually annoying road obstacle: speed bumps.

Best be prepared to handle all the cringing that comes with watching this video, but like most of Warped Perception’s previous episodes, this one is less about making a spectacle of speed bumps and more about educating you on what happens to your car when it routinely has to pass over these traps.

Here's How Speed Bumps Affect Your Car At Speed - Ouch
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By and large, speed bumps are necessary evils on the road. They keep us in check, especially if we’re traveling at speeds that we probably shouldn’t be traveling at. They’re there for safety reasons, which most of us will begrudgingly admit. But just because that’s the case, it doesn’t mean that speed bumps are good for our cars, especially if we don’t see one coming.

Most of us are familiar with the stomach-churning feeling of not seeing a speed bump fast enough to react to it.

We typically just cringe and resign ourselves to the inevitable feeling of getting trashed around in our seats once our cars hit the bump. Then we move on, pretend like nothing happened, all while we start dying a little inside.

How much damage can a speed bump actually inflict?

Are speed bumps really that punishing to our cars, and if so, how bad could it get? This is where the folks over at Warped Perception come in. After doing previous tests on potholes and the effect they have on our cars, their focus shifts on speed bumps, specifically the three kinds of speed bumps that we often see on the road.

The first kind is the asphalt speed bump. It’s the most common one we encounter and it’s the one that we often don’t recognize until the last second. Part of it is because some of these bumps aren’t painted white or yellow to alert us of their presence. They blend in with the road surface and we don’t often see them until the last second.


Driving what is arguably the toughest — and most naked — Mercedes E-Class in the world, Warped Perception’s Matt Mikka proceeds to drive the E-Class over an asphalt speed bump under a few conditions. First, he drives the E-Class at full speed and then hits the brakes just as he hits the asphalt speed bump. The result is what you’d expect. The E-Class went over the bump violently, bottomed out, and scraped the road after all the weight transferred to the front end of the sedan. The second time, Mikka goes full speed without hitting the brakes and, to our collective surprise, nothing happened to the suspension.

Moving on, Mikka tests the E-Class on the plastic speed bumps we typically see around shopping malls. Using the same methods, the results of these tests kind of undermined the hypothesis.

Here's How Speed Bumps Affect Your Car At Speed - Ouch
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the speed bumps ended up being small enough that nothing of consequence happened to the E-Class’ suspension as a result of the multiple tests it was subjected to.

Unfortunately for us, the third type of speed bump — the one Mikka calls “the suspension killer” — lived up to its nickname. Not only are they thicker and wider, but they’re also higher than the plastic speed bumps from the second test. And as expected, going through this type of speed bump puts undue pressure on the E-Class’ suspension to the point that the tires completed the entire amount of upward suspension travel it had, hitting the wheel arches in the process. This isn’t normal for a suspension because it’s not supposed to go so much in that direction in the way it did.

Here's How Speed Bumps Affect Your Car At Speed - Ouch
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Ultimately, the video reveals that nothing too dramatic happens when you hit a speed bump, whether at high speeds or under immediate braking. That’s especially true if it doesn’t happen to you a lot. Your car can bottom out, sure, but the suspension isn’t going to fall off completely.

So don’t feel too bad if you hit a speed bump unexpectedly every once in a while. Do it often, though, and that becomes a different story.

Final Thoughts

Here's How Speed Bumps Affect Your Car At Speed - Ouch
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The more you drive recklessly on the road and hit these speed bumps with abandon, the cumulative effects on the suspension, steering, exhaust, and even the tires will one day come back and bite you in the ass. Suspension damage is real if you’re not careful about speed bumps. You might even knock off your exhaust system or blow a tire if you’re not careful. Worst of all, if you puncture your car’s hydraulics and fluid leaks out, nothing’s going to protect you from absorbing the impact of these speed bump encounters.

The good news is that if you’re careful on the road, you shouldn’t have to worry about anything. Oh, and potholes are a lot worse than speed bumps, at least based on the previous episode of this Warped Perception series.

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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