Your Guide to Potholes: Driving Safety Tips

During my commute to work, I inevitably drive over more than 10 potholes each way. While a few of them are small, most of them are quite large and create for a very bumpy and uncomfortable ride to work.

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Many potholes are caused when relentless freezing and thawing of water under the pavement weakens the road and causes large cracks, which, when combined with the weight of vehicles driving over, eventually turn into potholes.  Because of the role freezing can play in pothole formation, severe winter weather can often lead to lots of potholes — as many areas of the U.S. are experiencing after bouts of wintry weather in early 2014.

If you live in a city with lots of potholes, here are a few safety tips from

  • Leave plenty of room in front of your vehicle so you can avoid potholes without getting into an accident.
  • If you can’t avoid a pothole, slow down before you hit it. But don’t brake directly over a pothole, which can actually cause more damage.
  • When driving over the pothole, hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control.
  • Use caution when driving over a puddle of water because it might be a particularly deep pothole in hiding.

After a little research, I found out that potholes can cause serious damage to my car, even if they are small. While I always figured running over a large pothole would be bad for my tires, little did I know that some potholes can have as much impact on your car as a 35 mph car crash.

In addition to causing structural damage to the tire itself, potholes may also cause your tires to blow out if they are underinflated. Potholes may also cause alignment problems, which can lead to uneven wear, according to the Car Care Council.

So if you’re like me, and have been running over potholes this winter, the Car Care Council says these are some symptoms of pothole damage:

  • The car pulling toward the left or right, instead of going straight, which could indicate an alignment problem.
  • Uneven tire wear, which could indicate an alignment problem.
  • Low tire pressure.
  • Bulges or blisters on the tire sidewalls.
  • Dents in the wheel rims.
  • Loss of control, swaying when making turns, bouncing excessively on rough roads, or bottoming out on city streets, which could indicate problems with the steering or suspension.

If you notice any of these symptoms you may want to take your car into the shop to have it checked for damage.

TIP: If you encounter a pothole, you should report it to your city, county or state transportation authorities. In some cases, your state, county or city may actually reimburse you for some of the repair costs.