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How Do Potholes Damage Your Vehicle?

March 13th, 2014
It’s peak pothole season out there and no one is immune to their sneaky destruction. We’ve all hit them at some point, and every time it happens, you see it only a second before it gets you, often too late to miss it. These little road hazards lay in wait, with their dips, bumps, and sharp toothy edges, just waiting to ruin your day. They can cause a sudden jolt all the way up to a blown tire.  And, I hate to report, they aren’t disappearing any time soon. Potholes are every tire’s sworn enemies. Many of us are passionate about potholes, as we have personally sacrificed many hubcaps to them over the years. 
 
The way that potholes work is that roads will freeze and thaw causing erosion of the dirt beneath the pavement.  This weakens the asphalt in the process. Add frequent traffic to the mix, and the road begins to crumble. Eventually, the street erodes even more and develops a crater we know as a pothole. 
 
Potholes can cause many forms of damage to your vehicle: 
 
Tire puncture, damage or wear
Wheel rim damage
Premature wear on shocks and struts
Suspension damage, including broken components
Steering system misalignment
Exhaust system damage
Engine damage
 
The best ways to avoid pothole damage are to simply pay attention.  Try to steer clear of them if you can. If it is possible simply swerve around them. This will help you avoid damage altogether. Leave space in front of you when you are driving. Doing so will help you spot potholes and give you enough time to avoid them.
 
Watch for water or other road hazards. Pay special attention to potholes filled with water, which can be especially dangerous, because you don’t know their depth until it’s too late. Remember to slow down especially if you are travelling on a pothole-filled road. Driving slowly can minimize the damage to your car if you hit a pothole.
 
 It is important not to slam the brakes. At some point, despite using the your best judgment and precaution, you might hit a pothole. To minimize damage, resist the urge to slam on the brakes. Hitting the brakes tilts the vehicle forward and puts extra stress on the front suspension, which is usually the first part of the vehicle to strike a pothole.
 
If your vehicle hits a pothole and experiences a significant jolt, get it inspected immediately. This will prevent any further damage to your vehicle. If you continue to drive on minor problems they can start to compound, possibly resulting in major repairs down the road. Check your tires for uneven wear, or any bulges or visible damage, as this is often the first and most noticeable damage caused by potholes. Next, watch for any vibrations or the car pulling to the left or the right as this could mean that the pothole may have damaged your steering system or thrown your vehicle off alignment. Your wheels may need to be inspected or even balanced. 
 
Don’t hesitate to pull over and quickly check your tires to make sure you did not get a flat. Get your vehicle inspected as soon as possible depending on the size and impact of the pothole. Potholes are sneaky, and they are not harmless. If you have hit a pothole, come stop in and we’ll help you assess the damage and get back on the road in no time. 
Posted in: Tires 101

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