Pothole season is here! Damage to YOUR Car Costs More than You Think

By Lauren Fix

In many parts of the country, the weather is warming up and people are seeing the damage from the winter that has destroyed the roads. It seems like pothole-laden obstacle courses are everywhere!. The damage can be very expensive, and that bill is on you!

Some of the potholes on the road are already like craters on the moon, while other are getting larger every day that traffic drives right through them. As the potholes grow, the potential damage to your vehicle becomes a safety risk that can take a chunk out of your wallet.

If you’re driving through a pothole every day on your commute, you might see flat tires, bent rims, suspension damage, steering damage, or even damage to the body of the car. Potholes can even knock your wheels out of alignment, which will affect the way the tires wear, and can lead to replacing those tires earlier than expected.

AAA estimates 1 out of every 10 drivers in 2021 sustained vehicle damage from potholes significant enough that they needed immediate repairs. AAA says in 2021 alone, potholes cost drivers about $26.5 billion.

Weather plays a big role in how potholes form, and crews are out in full force across the Northeast to begin filling them in before drivers are left with a hefty repair bill.  But they keep coming back and you truly have to pay attention to the roads.

When moisture enters cracks and crevices in the pavement it expands and contracts due to weather changes and the rollercoaster-like temperatures that dip to below freezing at night and climb during the day causes damage to the pavement leading to potholes. As each driver drives over that small pothole it gets bigger and bigger.

When a vehicle hits a pothole with any kind of force, the tires, wheels and suspension get the brunt of the impact and fixing any of those items is pricey.

AAA estimates drivers pay an average of around $600 per for repair work from pothole damage.

Be on pothole patrol! Here are the best ways to drive directly into a large pothole if you can’t avoid it.

Looking ahead of you and noting where they are will help you avoid the pits in the roads. On more heavily traveled roads, the constant traffic kicks up pavement. Existing potholes can grow larger and cause even more serious damage in just a few hours.

And YES, they can pop up over night, so paying attention on a daily basis is critical to your car’s safety.

The first line of pothole defense is proper tire inflation. Low tire pressure can cause bulges or blisters to the tires’ sidewalls, and even dent the wheel. These problems will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible, as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road in all sorts of driving conditions. A bubble on the sidewall of the tire means it needs to be replaced.

Before you make an evasive maneuver, be aware of traffic around you. Use your mirrors and consider whether to straddle the hole or go around it. Don’t have an accident just to avoid a pothole.

If a pothole can’t be avoided, keep your steering wheel straight. Slow down and drive carefully through the pothole. Allow the tire to roll through the pothole. Traveling at full speed or slamming on the brakes can cause major damage, leaving you possibly on the side of the road with suspension and even frame damage.

Obviously the best tip is to avoid these nasty craters.

Worst case scenario, if you have recently hit a pothole and heard the scary THUMP; it’s time to see an ASE certified technician to inspect your suspension, undercarriage and tires for damage.

Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®, is a nationally recognized automotive expert, analyst, author, and television host.  A trusted car expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics and aspects, energy, industry, consumer news, and safety issues.   

Lauren is the CEO of Automotive Aspects and the Editor-in-Chief of Car Coach Reports, a global automotive news outlet. She is an automotive contributor to national and local television news shows, including Fox News, Fox Business, CNN International, The Weather Channel, Inside Edition, Local Now News, Community Digital News, and more. Lauren also co-hosts a regular show on ABC.com with Paul Brian called “His Turn – Her Turn” and hosts regular radio segments on USA Radio – DayBreak. 

Lauren is honored to be inducted into the Women’s Transportation Hall of Fame and a Board Member of the Buffalo Motorcar Museum and Juror / President for the North American Car, Utility & Truck of the Year Awards.  

Check her out on Twitter and Instagram @LaurenFix.

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