Potholes: How They Damage Your Vehicle
By Integra Tire Canada
The next time you’re upset about the pothole crew out causing traffic to be backed up, think twice – they might be saving your vehicle! Potholes are a nasty part of driving on roads – they can damage your tires, put your vehicle out of alignment, and cause all types of nasty repairs. You can try your hardest to avoid them, but sometimes you can’t. In this guide, we will discuss what potholes are and how they cause damage to your vehicle.
What Causes Potholes?
Potholes are caused by two pretty simple components: water and cold! In the winter, water from snow and ice can seep into the ground through small cracks and collect under the asphalt. As the water freezes and expands, it pushes the asphalt upward and causes more cracks and instability. Once the water dries up, there is a hollow space left below the pavement, which the asphalt will eventually sink into, leaving a hole.
Potholes aren’t only a minor inconvenience. Hitting a pothole the wrong way can cause structural damage to your tire, often times to the sidewall or belts. If your tire was pinched between the edge of a pothole and the wheel, it can cause the internal plies to be compromised. You may see this as a bulge in your sidewall or other area of your tire. The real danger is that you may not notice this the first or second time you hit a pothole, but eventually it can lead to an extremely dangerous blowout.
Rim damage is also common. The hard impact of hitting a pothole can bend your rims and lead to vibrations in your steering wheel.
Alignment and Bent Suspension
The average small vehicle weighs 2,800 pounds, with larger trucks and SUVs being nearly double that weight. That is a lot of load to carry! Your suspension system typically allows your vehicle to adjust to changes in the road surface smoothly; however, any abrupt changes in road height, such as potholes, are much more jarring. When this large weight is suddenly slammed downward in a pothole, your suspension system is taking much of the impact.
This very often leads to your vehicle alignment being affected. If you notice your vehicle pulling to one side, or if your steering seems “off” after you hit a pothole, you may need to have your alignment adjusted. Potholes can also bend components in your suspension system. This may also cause a pull in your wheel.
- Defensive driving – One of the best ways to avoid potholes is to stay vigilant when driving. Respect all posted speeds and pay attention to the road in front of you. Do not tailgate. Stay well back from vehicles you are following, ensuring you’ll be able to see potholes well in advance.
- Avoid puddles – When possible, avoid driving through puddles, as it is difficult to tell what is underneath them. It is also quite common for water to pool inside of potholes because of their downward slope – so if you drive through a puddle, there is a good chance that you’ll be driving through a pothole!
- Proper tire inflation – Always keep your tires inflated to the correct PSI. By doing so, you’ll be giving your car added protection from potholes.
- Hold the steering wheel with two hands – Potholes can easily knock your vehicle out of your desired path. Be prepared for unexpected movement by keeping both hands on the wheel.
Potholes can’t always be avoided, but you can be prepared for them. When that is not enough, contact your local Integra Tire to have any possible damage to your vehicle inspected.
Questions? Our Advisors are Happy to Help!If you have questions about anything you've read in this resource page, contact your nearest Integra Tire dealer for more information. We are passionate in assisting our customers make the best choices to keep their vehicles in tip-top shape and keep their families safe.
About UsIntegra Tire Canada is a network of independent tire, automotive, and maintenance dealers across Canada established in 2008. But what makes us different? Our commitment to #integraty - our endless pursuit of excellence, every day for every customer.