Truck driving over a pothole

Welcome To Pothole Season

When winter’s snow and ice finally begin to melt away, they invariably leave behind an unpleasant reminder of the winter season—potholes. 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. Pothole damage costs American motorists billions of dollars each year. Check out these tips for minimizing pothole damage to your vehicle

INSPECT TIRES

The tire is the most important cushion between a car and a pothole. Make sure tires have enough tread and are properly inflated. When checking tire pressures, ensure they are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended levels, which can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the driver’s door jamb.

INSPECT SUSPENSION

Make certain struts and shock absorbers are in good condition. Changes in vehicle handling, excessive vibration, or uneven tire wear can indicate bad shocks or struts. Have the suspension inspected by a certified technician if you suspect problems.

LOOK AHEAD

Make a point of checking the road ahead for potholes. An alert driver may have time to avoid potholes, so it’s important to stay focused on the road and not any distractions inside or outside the vehicle. Before swerving to avoid a pothole, check surrounding traffic to ensure this will not cause a collision or endanger nearby pedestrians or cyclists.

SLOW DOWN

If a pothole can’t 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 to tires, wheels, and suspension components.

BEWARE OF PUDDLES

A puddle 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 a car’s wheels out of alignment and affect the steering. If a vehicle pulls to the left or 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 that appear after hitting a pothole should be inspected immediately by a certified technician.

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The content contained in this article if for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any professional guidance. AAA does not guarantee any particular outcome.

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