As if driving through the snow and slush weren’t enough, the tail end of winter has to throw potholes into the mix as we start to transition to spring driving conditions. As the snow begins to melt, potholes start springing up (just like flowers) and causing drivers a whole new set of concerns on the roads.
Spring always brings with it a new crop of wonders and potholes are out in full effect this season. They are prevalent due to moisture (like melting snow) that collects in small holes and cracks in the road surface. With temperatures all over the place, this moisture expands and contracts, thereby breaking up the pavement. Add heavy vehicles into the mix, and bam – you’ve got potholes.
“Major winter storms have affected much of the country this season. While many motorists’ cars have made it through the winter storm season unscathed, they could still fall victim to a pothole left in its aftermath,” said John Nielsen, director, AAA Auto Repair and Buying Programs.
To help you though the pothole minefield, AAA has put together some helpful hints that will help you steer clear of pothole-related car repairs:
Inspect Tires – Think of your tires as the padding between a car and a pothole, so make sure tires have enough tread and are properly inflated. To ensure your tires are properly inflated, check the manufacturer’s recommended levels (found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the driver’s door jamb – don’t use the pressure levels stamped on the sidewall of the tire).
Inspect Suspension – It’s always a good idea to keep your struts and shock absorbers in good condition. Have your vehicle’s suspension inspected by a certified technician if you think there may be a problem.
Look Ahead – This is always good advice. Keep an eye out ahead and check the road in front of you for potholes. Stay focused on the road and not any distractions inside or outside the vehicle (again, this is just always good advice). If you see one coming at you, be sure to check for surrounding traffic so you don’t cause an accident.
Slow Down – If you notice a pothole too late or can’t avoid it due to traffic, try to reduce your speed safely (always check your rearview mirror before hitting the breaks).
Beware of Puddles – Those crafty puddles are in cahoots with potholes and hide them from the unsuspecting driver. When you see a puddle, drive through it carefully.
Check Alignment – If you do hit a pothole, it can knock your vehicle’s wheels out of alignment and affect the steering. If you suspect yours is off-kilter, have the wheel alignment checked by a qualified technician.
Recognize Noises/Vibrations – Don’t dismiss any strange noises coming from your car after hitting a pothole hard. You may have dislodged the wheel weights, damaged a tire or wheel, or broke the suspension components. Have these noises inspected immediately by a certified technician.