Virginia Auto Service

How Do Potholes Harm Your Vehicle?

Potholes are pesky little road hazards that can result in anything from a simple jolt to a blown tire. The pothole is the sworn enemy of your tires, and unfortunately, they won’t be going away anytime soon. If you’ve driven a vehicle, chances are you’ve encountered one at one point or another. Most of the time, once you see the pothole, it is too late to avoid it.

Potholes are holes of various shapes and sizes that appear in the roadway. Potholes are formed by the expansion and contraction of ground water under the pavement. If the groundwater has a chance to swell or freeze, it will expand taking up more room under the pavement. As such, the pavement will expand and possibly crack, weakening it. Then once the water recedes, the pavement will contract, and gaps/voids will be made on the surface underneath the pavement. Each time this happens the pavement becomes weaker. As the heavy weight of vehicles passes over these weak spots in the road they break down and the pavement becomes displaced creating a pothole.

There are many potential forms of damage that a pothole can cause to your vehicle, including:
• Tire damage, puncture or wear
• Damaged wheel rims
• Early wear on shocks and struts
• Damage to the suspension
• Misalignment of the steering system
• Damage to the exhaust system
• Engine damage

Four tips to avoid serious damage to your vehicle on a pothole:

Pay attention. The best way to protect your vehicle from pothole damage is simply to pay attention to the road before you. If you can spot them early enough you have a better chance of avoiding them. Try and avoid hitting them by swerving around them if its safe to do so. This way you can avoid all potential damage. You should leave enough space between you and the vehicles in front of you on the road so that you are better able to see the road ahead and give yourself more time to avoid them.

Be aware of water-filled potholes. It is especially important to watch for potholes that are filled with water. Water-filled potholes can be exceptionally dangerous because you have no way of knowing their depth. If you are driving on a road that is worn and damaged, you need to drive slower to minimize the damage to your vehicle when you hit a pothole.

Don’t slam on the brakes. At some point, no matter how careful you are, you will likely hit a pothole. When you do, it is important that you don’t slam on your brakes. When you hit the brakes your vehicle tilts forward putting more stress on the front suspension- the first part of the vehicle that hits the pothole. Slamming on your brakes will cause more damage to the vehicle because of the extra force.

Inspect your vehicle if you experience a considerable jolt. If you hit a pothole that is particularly jarring, you shouldn’t hesitate to immediately check for a flat tire. If your vehicle is still drivable, by all means, get on your way. However, you should pay close attention to your vehicle as all problems don’t present themselves right away. At some point, you should recheck your tires for bulges, uneven wear and other sorts of visible damage. These are usually the first signs of damage caused by a pothole. You should also pay attention to any new vibrations or the car pulling strongly in either direction. This is a sign that the pothole threw your vehicle out of alignment or damaged your steering system. If you continue to drive with such problems they could wind up causing further damage and become even more expensive to repair, so have your vehicle taken care of as soon as you notice any sign of trouble.

If you have hit a pothole you can bring your vehicle to Virginia Auto Service and we will assess the damage and get it back on the road in no time. Call us at 602-266-0200 or schedule your next appointment online.

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