While tire-hungry potholes are typically a sign of spring, this winter’s extreme cold weather followed by record warmth has taken an early toll on the Nation’s roadways – and drivers are paying a steep price. AAA East Central reports an increase in pothole related roadside assistance calls compared to years past.
"Not only do potholes pose a safety risk to motorists, they can really leave a hole in your wallet," says Tom Ashley, Executive Vice President of AAA East Central. "Even if the damage isn’t as obvious as a flat tire, potholes can lead to bent wheels or even more expensive suspension damage."
Potholes form when moisture collects in small holes and cracks in the road surface. The moisture expands and contracts when temperatures go up and down. This breaks up the pavement and, combined with the weight of passing cars, eventually results in a pothole.
This winter’s extreme temperature swings could make this year’s "pothole season" one for the record books. A recent AAA Study revealed that pothole damage can cost motorists hundreds, even as much as a thousand dollars in repairs. Moreover, AAA East Central has seen a 12% increase in flat tire calls in January 2018 as compared to 2017.
To minimize vehicle damage from potholes, AAA offers the following tips:
Inspect Tires – Make sure tires are properly inflated and have a healthy tread.
Inspect Suspension – Make sure certain struts, shock absorbers and other suspension parts are in good condition.
Look ahead – Make a point of scanning the road ahead for potholes. An alert driver is more likely to have time to avoid a pothole so limit distractions.
Slow Down – If a pothole cannot be avoided, reduce speed safely without abrupt braking.
Beware of Puddles – Puddles often disguise deep potholes.
Recognize Noises/Vibrations – A hard pothole impact can dislodge wheel weights, damage the tire or wheel and even break suspension components. Any unusual noises after a pothole hit should be inspected immediately.
Where’s the Spare – New car owners beware, a quick fix for a blown out tire may be no more, as many newer cars do not have spare tires.
Big Hole, Big Hit – Hitting a large pothole usually results in, not only replacing a tire, but also the need for wheel alignment and possible steering linkage damage, causing a bit hit to motorists’ wallets.
Drivers should identify a repair shop they trust to help keep their vehicle in good shape. AAA Approved Auto Repair network consists of nearly 7,000 facilities that have met AAA’s high standards, including, technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. Visit AAA.com/AutoRepair to find a nearby facility.