Why You Should Avoid Potholes On The Road
Potholes aren’t just a nuisance. They’re also expensive. The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that they cost vehicle owners about $3 billion each year. The repairs aren’t cheap, averaging on average $300 a pop. The freeze-and-thaw cycle during the winter and spring is one of the leading causes of this damage. However, wear and tear also take a toll.
A report by TRIP that surveyed federal officials about the nation’s road conditions found that only 28 percent were rated good. Even urban areas outside of the snow belt have some of the worst conditions in the country, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose. The problem is that potholes can cause excessive damage to many parts of your vehicle.
AAA dispatches roadside assistance for flat tires for over 4 million calls alone each year. Your tire can go flat, come off the rim, or you can even bend and damage your wheel when you hit a pothole. Furthermore, suspension components have been known to break due to potholes.
Tires and Wheels
Your tires and wheels take significant hits from potholes. They can weaken the structure and cause low tire pressure and even flats. You’ll find out right away if it sets off your Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) warning light. You can also detect it by noting the uneven wear on the tread. Sharp edges on the asphalt could also puncture them. If the damage is slight, it may take a while before you notice it.
You should also examine your wheels. You may also see flat spots on the lip or other physical damage to your rims. You’ll notice a definite change in how your vehicle handles since the tires won’t roll along the road smoothly. The balance of the wheel and tire assembly can also be affected and cause a bumpy ride. Most times replacing the bent rim or having it fixed is your best option.
Alignment and Handling
Hitting potholes hard will likely put your ride out of alignment. You may notice that your car’s steering is less responsive, or it pulls to one side. Potholes can further damage your tires, causing feathered or scalloped wear. Other signs are noisy steering, suspension squeaks, and a change in handling characteristics. Unfortunately, these problems only get worse and become noticeable the longer you drive a damaged vehicle. You need to have your vehicle looked at if you notice something is wrong.
You may see the telltale signs of damaged components with oil, transmission fluid, or other leaks on the driveway. There may be dents or scratches on the frame. You may smell oil or a chemical smell. That means something happened to the undercarriage of your vehicle. Often, it’ll mean a replacement of the affected part if it’s more than just a minor ding. It is not safe to let conditions like this go.
Suspension and Steering
Your suspension can also take the brunt of the force by bending or even breaking components, such as your struts or shocks. You’ll notice that something is wrong if your vehicle bounces excessively on hilly roads or you detect issues with steering. If your vehicle no longer dampens the ride when you hit a bump, your shocks or struts may need to be replaced. Potholes decrease the lifespan of these components by putting a lot of stress and wear and tear on them. You may hear unusual noises when you turn the wheels.
Other signs of a suspension issue are front-end dipping during braking, unstable handling at high speeds, or excessive vibrations. This type of damage is especially insidious because it can affect the other things we’ve discussed, too. It can cause uneven wear on your tires and other components because they are doing “overtime” to compensate for the broken or worn out part of your suspension or steering.
Fortunately, you have some recourse if potholes damage your vehicle. You can make a claim through your insurance company to see if your collision coverage will pay for the repair. If that doesn’t work, we suggest going to the government entity responsible for the upkeep of the road. You can file a claim with them for reimbursement. Just make sure to take photos of the potholes and your vehicle. You can count on Jack Williams Tire & Auto Service Centers to make any repairs to your suspension, steering, wheels, or tires after hitting a pothole.