Can I claim against the council for speed hump damage to my Volkswagen Golf?

I wondered if you think it worth making a claim for compensation to a local council regarding damage to my car caused by a particular set of speed humps? In the past year, I have had three springs and a set of shock absorbers replaced on my 2000 Volkswagen Golf. The garage thought this was normal wear and tear for London. Recently I went over a speed hump and heard a very loud scraping sound. This was followed a day later by an oil leak and last week the sump on my car was replaced (for a reasonable £205). This week I drove over the same set of humps on the opposite side of the road (which caused the same noise) and this morning noticed another leak.

I asked the garage the first time I went in to have the sump replaced if the suspension could have been too low after they replaced the front springs, but they said there is no adjustment. They told me the sump damage is very common particularly on Volkswagens and Audi's so maybe I was lucky not to have had this before. Twice in a month seems a bit much in terms of damage. What do you recommend?

Asked on 18 May 2013 by NL, North London

Answered by Honest John
Golf Mk IVs had particularly low sumps so this is a common problem with them, but no reason why not to take small claims court action against the council for placing "damaging obstructions in the highway that are impossible to negotiate in a normal car at normal speed without incurring damage". You can usually spot the over-height humps by the gouges made in them by sump plugs (it’s the main reason why sump plugs are prone to cross-thread after an oil change).

Take photos of the gouges as well as of your own damage as evidence. In my area the pounding of vehicles over the bigger humps causes the sub-structure of the road to break up, so you also get potholes before and after the humps. Completely ridiculous. Especially when some favoured contractor probably bought a yacht out of the profits from dumping these ill-conceived and dangerous obstructions in the highway.
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