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How to Avoid Potholes While Driving

pothole with water on the road how to avoid them

If you are like most drivers on the road, you have probably swerved at the last second to avoid hitting a pothole. Or worse, you’ve hit one and then cross your fingers, hoping that it did not cause any damage. 

While potholes are worse in some areas of the country than others, they are an unfortunate reality faced by many drivers. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), a 2016 study revealed that pothole damage had cost U.S. drivers $3 billion a year in vehicle repairs, and two-thirds of Americans are concerned about potholes on local roadways. 

Fortunately, there are some ways to avoid potholes and the damage they cause. 

What Causes Potholes?

Before you can understand the risks of potholes and avoid them, it is important to know their cause. During storms or poor weather conditions, water can seep into roads. When the temperature drops and the water freezes, it expands and puts tension on the pavement causing it to bend, crack, and weaken. As cars and trucks continue to drive over, the pavement’s weakened roadway pieces become displaced, ultimately causing potholes on the road. 

What Kind of Damage Can a Pothole Cause?

While potholes can be frustrating and can make your ride uncomfortable, it is essential to note that pothole car damage can be severe. 

Some of the parts of your vehicle that can be affected by hitting potholes on the road include:

1. Tire and wheels. The most apparent form of pothole car damage is a blown-out tire, but hitting a large pothole can also lead to bent, cracked, or chipped rims. 

2. Suspension. If you hit a pothole or multiple over time, it may lead to alignment issues or damaged shocks and struts. 

3. Undercarriage. If you scrape your vehicle’s undercarriage on a pothole, it can crack the oil pan, which will result in a leak. Scraping the undercarriage can also damage the exhaust system, which could allow for the highly-dangerous situation of carbon monoxide traveling into the cabin. 

4. Body damage. If you hit a pothole hard enough, it can, unfortunately, damage your car’s body, including the bumper and side skirts. 

How to Avoid Potholes While Driving

man checking the damage on his tires because he didn't avoid a pothoe

You may not always be able to steer clear of every pothole you encounter. Still, there are ways that you can avoid potholes or minimize the resulting damage. Consider these tips below.

  • Don’t tailgate! Give yourself time to see potholes in front of you to prepare to avoid them in any way possible.
  • Change lanes (if possible). If you see a pothole ahead, try to change lanes to avoid it, but do not abruptly swerve because you could hit another car or a pedestrian instead. 
  • Don’t hit the brakes. Don’t speed over a pothole, but instead attempt to slow down as much as possible before the impact. However, be sure not to brake directly over a pothole because it can cause more damage to your vehicle. 
  • Keep an eye out for hidden dangers. If you see a puddle or icy spot on the road ahead, they could sign a concealed pothole. 
  • Maintain a tight grip on the steering wheel. The last thing you need is to risk more damage after hitting a pothole. After you do, keep a two-handed grip on the steering wheel, so your vehicle doesn’t veer off the road or into other cars. 

How to Repair Potholes

If you are faced with the inconvenience of avoiding potholes in your neighborhood daily, you should be sure to report potholes to your state’s Department of Transportation or the local municipalities, depending on the type of road in which you drive. 

Even if you learned how to avoid potholes, it is still best to have them filled as soon as possible.    

Another great way to protect your car against damage is by getting the perfect insurance for your needs and budget. At USAgencies, we can help you save up to $798*. Get a free Alabama car insurance quote online, over the phone, or at one of our offices near you.

*Based on a Q2 2020 study of USAgencies customers who reported saving when they switched.