Warning: Pothole Season is Here! How to stay safe on pock-marked Ohio roads

Mother nature was fairly harsh to us in the Miami Valley this winter. While many of us grumbled over having to shovel driveways and sidewalks, ODOT kept busy treating and plowing roads and highways. Their efforts helped keep us safer, but now that spring is right around the corner, we have a new highway menace to face:  potholes.

We experienced a lot of rain, snow and freezing temperatures over the past few months which was a perfect recipe to concoct some monster potholes. When it rains, or snow melts, water works itself into cracks in the road’s surface. When temps drop below freezing, the water freezes and expands. This causes the pavement to lift up and buckle, leaving it vulnerable to further cracking when it’s driven over or when plows scrape over it. The result of all of this is big, gnarly potholes (and lots of frustrated drivers).

This pothole seems to indicate that Ohio is truly the pothole capitol of the US.

Image obtained from Reddit user u/Bluedevil88.

While potholes are unsightly, they pose a threat to your car’s wheels, tires, and suspension and in some cases, can even cause accidents. In this blog post, we’ll tell you how to help avoid damage to your car, and what to do if you do end up driving through a pothole.

Pothole Avoidance – Your Best Defense

Obviously, the best course of action is to be constantly vigilant – watch where you’re driving so you can spot potholes before you’re near them. To do this, drive a bit slower and never tailgate. When you tailgate someone, you won’t see potholes until it’s too late. Also, if you do see a pothole at the last minute, never dart or swerve suddenly; this could cause you to lose control of your car, especially if you’re in heavy traffic. Be leery of puddles and ice patches on roads – they could be harboring hidden potholes.

When You Can’t Avoid It

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you’ll hit a pothole. Often this is because the pothole is so big that you have no other choice than to drive over it. The sickening “thud” you hear accompanied by the jolt to your car is cringe-worthy. If you do see an unavoidable pothole, here’s how to minimize the damage:

  • Many people think if you speed up, your tire will “skim” over the pothole. That’s just simply untrue.
  • Reduce your speed drastically without slamming on the brakes. Use firm but gentle pressure on your brakes. Brake before you get to the pothole, but take your foot off the brakes when you hit the hole. This can help lessen damage to the brake system.
  • Keep a firm grip on your steering wheel when driving over or through a pothole. Keeping your wheels as straight as possible can potentially lessen damage as well as help you maintain control.

Assessing Damage

So you’ve hit a pothole, what now? Even if you don’t see any damage, it’s still a good idea to take your vehicle to the mechanics at SVG because potholes are sneaky…they often can cause damage that’s hidden from plain sight. There are two factors that can affect the amount of damage you may have sustained:  the speed you were traveling when you hit the pothole; and the depth of the pothole.

Here’s what some of the visible damage may include: flat tires, bent rims, cracked lower body panels, or damaged tires. Potholes are considered road hazards; some insurance companies do cover repairs to your car caused by road hazards, while others may not. If you’ve sustained damage, it won’t hurt to check your policy or call your insurance agent to see if the repairs will be covered.  

Even if you don’t see any visible damage, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook; especially if you hit a large pothole at a decent rate of speed. This is why it’s important to take your vehicle to the service team at SVG Motors; they’ll be able to inspect your vehicle to ensure it’s safe to drive. Here are some of the invisible damage types that can occur:

-       Bent rims (even the smallest bends which you can’t see in wheels or rims can cause slow air leaks which mean you’ll be left stranded with a flat tire sooner or later).

-       Broken steel belts inside the tires (the broken steel belts will make your ride feel bumpy).

-       Alignment problem (your steering wheel may not be centered anymore, and your car may pull to one side more than another when driving). A vehicle that is out of alignment can cause your tires to have irregular or premature wear, can cause it to have less responsive steering, or to have vibrations.

-       Undercarriage damage (if you hit a low pothole, your car can “bottom out”, which can cause damage to oil pans or other under body components that you can’t see unless you’re under the vehicle).

-       Suspension damage (hitting potholes can damage springs, shock absorbers, linkage, etc.)

You can trust the technicians at SVG; they’re not only highly skilled, but dedicated to transparency so that you can feel confident in the estimates we provide. Call us today or schedule an appointment online. You’ll get peace of mind because you won’t worry, wondering if you have invisible damage. If you do, you know we’ll fix it correctly ensuring your family is safer on the road.

Categories: Service