“Oh no, potholes!” is probably a more accurate description of how we feel when we see these road menaces. Potholes not only make driving less comfortable, they can inflict some serious damage on your vehicle. While we do our best to avoid them, sometimes it’s just not possible. It is important to be aware of any problems your vehicle might have after hitting one.
Why are potholes so bad this time of year? The pothole problem actually begins in the winter, when freezing and thawing cycles cause cracks in road surfaces to get larger and further degrade. The application of road salt can accelerate the damage because it creates more freezing and thawing stress, while melting ice on the roadway. In the spring, heavy rains infiltrate the cracks and cause more deterioration.
We have all felt the jolting impact of hitting a deep pothole. Our vehicles feel the impact, too, but to a much greater extent. Hitting potholes often leads to serious vehicle component damage, usually with the shocks and struts, which control ride and handling, and serve as a cushion to dampen the bouncing action of the vehicle’s springs. Shocks and struts also regulate spring and suspension movement, keeping the car’s tires in contact with the road to facilitate proper steering, stability, and braking. Compromised shocks and struts can create a dangerous situation, so it is important to be aware of the signs that your shocks or struts may need to be replaced:
- Swaying or rolling on turns
- Bottoming out or thumping on bumps
- Bouncing or sliding sideways on rough or winding roads
- Front-end dives when braking or rear end dips when accelerating
- Loss of directional control during abrupt stops
- Noticeable puddles under the car or leaking fluids
Hitting potholes can also result in tire and wheel damage, engine and exhaust system issues, as well as suspension problems. It’s important to have your vehicle inspected if you experience any of the these types of issues. Addressing pothole damage issues early can prevent more extensive problems down the road.