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A common problem found on roadways in the spring months are potholes. Potholes are holes found on the roadway that vary in shape and size. They usually occur when there is freezing and thawing of water under the pavement, weakening the road and causing large cracks. This combined with the heavy weight of vehicles driving over eventually result in potholes. Because freezing can play such a strong role in pothole formation, the more severe the winter weather, the more potholes there will likely be come spring. However, according to The Mercury News, potholes, and even sinkholes, can be formed when there are strong, long-lasting rain storms.

After running over a pothole, most drivers ask themselves the same question, “Is my car OK?” You can visually inspect the condition of your wheels and tires, but damage to the alignment, steering, and suspension system may remain unseen. It is also a little-known fact that some potholes can have as much impact on your car as a 35 mph car crashFor this reason, you should watch for the following warning signs to determine if the pothole has caused damage to your vehicle:

  • Steering Wheel Seems Off-center

Your steering wheel may seem off-center after you hit a pothole. If this is the case, it could mean you need your wheel alignment checked or that damage was done to a steering component.

  • The Steering Wheel Shakes

If your steering wheel begins to shake or vibrate after hitting a pothole there may have been damage to a tire or rim, or there is an issue with wheel balance.

  • Your Vehicle Pulls to One Side

Do you find your car drifting or pulling to one side after a run-in with a pothole? This points to an alignment problem, which is common after running over remarkably deep potholes.

  • You Hear Strange Noises

Strange noises coming from your vehicle are never a good sign, however, after hitting a pothole it could indicate damage to the exhaust system. If this is the case, your vehicle needs an inspection right away.

  • You Have a Flat Tire

This problem presents itself a bit more obviously, but it’s important to note that you should not try to drive on your flat. Driving on a flat tire can cause further, more expensive, damage to your wheel.

  • Other Visible Tire Damage

Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, uneven tire wear, or dents in the rim are visible damages that can occur after a run-in with a pothole. These problems should be checked out as soon as possible as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road.

  • Your Car Handles Differently

You know how your car feels better than anyone, and you are likely to notice when something is “off.” If you notice there is a loss in control, swaying when making routine turns, excessive bouncing, bottoming out on city streets, or any unfamiliar and uncomfortable feelings after hitting a pothole, trust your instincts and have it looked over by our trusted technicians.

4 TIPS FOR AVOIDING POTHOLE DAMAGE

Using these four tips can help you avoid vehicle damage by skillfully navigating around potholes.

1.Avoid Puddles

Puddles can be deeper than you expect. You have no idea just how far down that hole goes. Rainwater will pool in potholes, and that hidden pothole could very well be a massive one. Use extreme caution around puddles and if possible, avoid them altogether.

2.Slow Down

The slower you drive, the more time you will have to react and avoid a pothole in the road. If you can’t avoid it, slow even more before hitting it. Do not brake directly over the pothole as this can cause more damage. Hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control when driving over the pothole.

3.Keep Tires Properly Inflated

A properly inflated tire will hold up better against a pothole than one that is under or over inflated. Check your owner’s manual for your recommended tire pressure then keep your tires inflated to this recommendation.  Meridian Automotive is happy to help you with this if you need assistance.

4.Allow for Extra Space Between Yourself and Other Vehicles

Leaving a safe amount of space between you and other drivers is not only practicing safe driving, but it could help you avoid potholes and road debris. If you follow the vehicle in front of you too closely, you won’t be able to spot potholes or other road obstructions safely. Standard safety measures recommend leaving at least three seconds of space between you and the car in front of you.

If you suspect that a pothole has damaged your tire or thrown off your alignment or suspension, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at Meridian Automotive. Ignoring these problems could cause more extensive (and more expensive) damage over time. Meridian Automotive provides complete automotive repair in Meridian, Idaho, for most cars, light trucks, and SUV’s. For over 20 years we’ve been Meridian’s auto repair experts. Don’t just trust anyone with your automotive repair needs, trust the experts at Meridian Automotive. Call us today (208) 297-5573 or schedule an appointment online.