Hitting a pothole can cause more than an uncomfortable ride. Depending on the severity of the collision, a pothole can cause serious damage to your car, such as tire damage, rim damage, premature wear on shocks and struts, suspension damage, steering misalignment, exhaust system damage, and engine damage are all possible. Needless to say, taking steps to avoid pothole damage is good for both your car and your wallet.
Potholes are not uncommon — especially during and after harsh winter weather — so it’s important to understand how you can minimize the likelihood of blowouts and other pothole damage. You may be wondering what causes potholes. Potholes are cracks and crevices on the road formed by erosion of the roadway due to seasonal freeze-thaw cycles. Once water enters the ground under the pavement and freezes, it causes the pavement to expand, bend and crack. After the ice melts, the pavement contracts, leaving gaps or voids on the pavement’s surface.
Below are several tips to safely avoid potholes or deal with an unavoidable collision:
- Steer Clear of Potholes: Easier said than done in some cases, but your first course of action should be to safely maneuver around a pothole if there are no cars in adjacent lanes. Be mindful of puddles that could be masking potholes beneath.
- Take It Slow: This is extra important when traveling at night or on unfamiliar roads. Maintain a safe distance from the car traveling in front of you to give yourself time to identify potholes and react.
- Keep Tire Pressure in the Sweet Spot: Your owner’s manual and/or door jamb should tell you the ideal tire inflation for your car. Allowing pressure to dip under the recommended PSI could leave your tires susceptible to bottoming out quickly onto the rims and increase the likelihood of front suspension damage when faced with a pothole. Inflating your tires above the recommended PSI could increase the chances of a rigid impact when hitting a pothole because tires are harder when overinflated.
- Don’t Slam on the Brakes: If you can’t safely avoid a pothole, you don’t want to brake hard into the collision. The increased downforce from slamming on the brakes can increase the possibility of damage. If possible, gradually reduce your speed into the impact, and always keep two hands on the wheel to maintain control.
- Inspect Your Car after Impact: Checking your car for signs of damage following an encounter with a pothole can help you avoid safety issues in the future. If something feels, sounds, or looks “off,” don’t hesitate to get a professional inspection.
Repairs for damage caused by a pothole may be covered by your car insurance if you carry collision coverage. If you need to file a claim with Plymouth Rock, you may report it online or refer to our Contact Us page for your state’s claims number.