I was out on a back-roads cruise last Saturday with the wife, and while I was looking at my Google Maps app on my phone, I didn't see a huge pothole in the road and my passenger side tire dropped into it at about 40 miles per hour--no lie, the dang thing was at least 24" across and 10 inches deep--and the impact and shudder was tremendous, scaring the bejeezus out of us. Right afterwords the car developed a symptom where the steering wheel now pulls intermittently to the right as I drive; those who have ever had a bent wheel or a tire with separated cords will know the feeling I'm talking about...it's a constant jitter every time the wheel makes a revolution, and if I turn loose the wheel, the car will pull/creep to the right...it does it even worse at highway speeds.
At first I thought it might be a bent alloy wheel, so I swapped it out for a good spare I have, and it still does the same thing. I checked the tire balance weight to see if it was gone, but it's still there. Then I crawled under the car to see if I could spot any visible damage, but I can't see anything. I also jiggled the disc and hub assembly (while the wheel was off) to see if there was any severely loose play, but the car has 184K miles on it, and the front suspension is in need of an upgrade, anyway...I can't really feel any undue slackness in the assembly. One thing that seemed odd to me was how tight the caliper pads were gripping the disc itself, especially when I tried to rotate the hub...but that may be normal for this car, as far as I know.
Anyway, my question is this: What part(s) exactly would have been affected by hitting the pothole, in the sense that it would be causing this issue? Is it possible I just ruined the alignment on that side, or could I have bent something like the lower control arm? I'm going to order a complete front end rebuild kit, but I was just curious as to where I would specifically look for damage of the type that would cause it to steer this way.
Any help you can give will be much appreciated.