As winter sets in it seems like new potholes emerge every day, once relatively smooth roads soon become a gauntlet for drivers. Most of us will have experienced the sudden jolt of hitting an unexpected pothole and the dread you feel hoping there’s no damage.
Most Common Damage Caused By Potholes
Sidewall damage is the most common issue caused by potholes, as the tyre goes in and out of the pothole the sidewall of the tyre pinches together. This causes the internal structure of the tyre to seperate, resulting in a bulge in the sidewall of the tyre.
If the damage is not repaired it can be a serious safety risk to the driver and other road users as the tyre can experience sudden deflation, this usually happens when the tyres are warm and the vehicle is traveling at speed.
Our award winning Tyre Insurance policy is one of the few to cover side wall damage.
Wheel cracks are increasing as more vehicles are fitted with low profile or run flat tyres. Tyres such as these have heavily reinforced sidewalls, so when these tyres hit a pothole a shockwave is sent through the tyre and can cause the wheel itself to crack.
Wheel cracks can be difficult to spot from a visual inspection, however if left undiagnosed can lead to pressure slowly escaping from the tyre and can lead to sudden deflation, or worse total wheel failure. Again this can pose a serious safety risk to the driver and other road users.
Alloy wheel damage, hitting the side of a pothole can cause a lot of damage to your alloys, whist this does not cause any safety issues it can cost a lot to put right!
Suspension damage is a common occurrence after hitting a pothole. The sudden jolt can bend or damage the track rod ends, break coil springs or bend or break suspension wishbones.
Most people can feel if their suspension is damaged due to feeling every bump in the road, drifting during turns, uneven tyre treads and/or ‘nose diving’ when stopping. Continuing to drive with damage suspension can lead to knock on harm, but more importantly can be a safety risk as your car might not be suitable to drive.
Wheel alignment is another significant problem after hitting a pothole. The shock of hitting a pothole can put your wheels out of alignment, tale-tale signs of misaligned wheels are; your car pulls to one side whilst driving, the steering wheel is not straight when you’re driving in a straight line and your tyres are wearing out much faster than they should.
If you’ve hit a pothole it’s always advisable to carry out a visual inspection of the tyres and pay close attention to how your car is handling. If it feels different to drive than usual or if you hear any unusual sounds, we always recommend asking a professional to carry out a vehicle check for your safety.
Driving Tips For Pothole Damage
Stay alert - prevention is better than cure. Remember to keep an eye out for potholes and safely avoid them if you can.
Check your speed - it may seem obvious that hitting a pothole at speed will cause more damage, so if you can drive at a slower speed to minimise the risk of damage.
Remember ‘10 to 2’ - holding your steering wheel in the correct position can help you keep in control of your car if you hit an unexpected pothole.
Brake safely - it’s tempting to brake if you drive over a pothole, but that can do more harm than good. When you apply the brake your car tilts forward, putting additional pressure on your suspension, which can lead to damaging your suspension.
Check your tyres - check your tyre pressure regularly using your vehicles handbook. Correctly inflated tyres help minimise the risk of pothole damage.
If in doubt, get it checked - if you’re worried your car has been damaged by a pothole, it’s always best to get it checked by a professional for your own safety and to stop knock on damage occurring.
Want to protect yourself against the cost of pothole damage?
Damaging your tyres or alloy wheels is sometimes unavoidable, especially with the increased number of potholes in the winter months - however potholes can occur at anytime throughout the year. Repairing the damage can cost a small fortune, which is why MotorEasy offers both Tyre Insurance and Alloy Wheel Insurance making it easier than ever to get back on the road quickly and avoid a large repair bill!
What to do if you suffer pothole damage?
Local councils have a responsibility to maintain their roads to an acceptable standard. If they haven’t, and your vehicle is damaged, it is possible to get them to contribute towards your repairs. For full details take a look at our article on the subject.