Avoiding Damage from Potholes

Avoiding Damage from Potholes

Local roadways create obstacle course for drivers

Potholes in Western and Central New York seem unusually bad this winter—a sure sign of all the snow and ice we’ve dealt with! One of the biggest culprits of flat tires in the region is potholes.

A recent AAA survey found that nearly 30 million U.S. drivers experienced pothole damage significant enough to require repair in 2016, with repair bills ranging from under $250 to more than $1,000.

Potholes form when moisture collects in small holes and cracks in the road surface. As temperatures rise and fall, the moisture expands and contracts due to freezing and thawing. This breaks up the pavement and, combined with the weight of passing cars, eventually results in a pothole.

To aid motorists in protecting their vehicles from pothole damage, AAA recommends the following:

Inspect Tires – Make sure tires are properly inflated and have enough tread. An underinflated or badly worn tire is more likely to suffer damage, or allow the wheel or suspension to be damaged, when hitting a pothole.

Inspect Suspension – Make certain struts, shock absorbers and other suspension parts are in good condition. Changes in vehicle handling, excessive vibration or uneven tire wear can indicate damaged or worn components.

Look Ahead – Make a point of checking the road ahead for potholes. Before swerving to avoid a pothole, check surrounding traffic to ensure this won’t cause a collision or endanger nearby pedestrians or cyclists.

Slow Down – If a pothole cannot be avoided, reduce speed safely being sure to check the rearview mirror before any abrupt braking. Hitting a pothole at higher speeds greatly increases the chance of damage.

Beware of Puddles – A puddle of water can disguise a deep pothole. Use care when driving through puddles and treat them as though they may be hiding potholes.

Check Alignment – Hitting a pothole can knock the wheels out of alignment and affect the steering. If a vehicle pulls to the left of right, have the wheel alignment checked by a qualified technician.

Recognize Noises/Vibrations – A hard pothole impact can dislodge wheel weights, damage a tire or wheel, and bend or even break suspension components. Any new or unusual noises or vibrations should be inspected immediately.

When dealing with vehicle damage, it’s critical to select a high-quality repair facility such as a AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) shop. To find an AAR facility near you, visit AAA.com/Repair.