During and after the harsh winter weather comes those potholes… Potholes are caused by water freezing and expanding in asphalt cracks; causing breakage and holes.
It’s impossible to judge the size or depth of a pothole, especially if they are filled with water. When at all possible avoid running over or through one. Often people think increasing their speed and quickly running over or through a pothole will keep them from damage. It turns out, the faster the speed, the greater the damage. Higher speeds will cause greater damage because the impact will be increased when your vehicle reacts to the road. Common vehicle damage caused by potholes includes: tires, wheels, steering, suspension, alignment, andexhaust.
Tire damage caused by potholes can include punctures which may cause the tire to explode, as well as damage to sidewalls that often can’t be repaired. Tire treads will often wear faster if the vehicle is regularly driven on damaged asphalt compare to good road conditions.
Your vehicle’s shocks and struts can be damaged after running over a pothole. The Shocks absorb impact and bounce of your up and down, side to side motion. Struts are mounted directly to your vehicle chassis (frame) and hold the springs which move with tires, keeping them in contact with the road over bumps, dips, curves, and other surprises along the way. When you hit a pothole your wheels drop down and roll through the hole while the weight of the vehicle drops down. The shocks absorb a great impact which over time and more potholes can cause your shocks and struts to wear. If you have taken some hard bumps through potholes here are some warning signs your shocks and struts may have been damaged; your tires show unusual wear patterns and poor handling; you experience a generally bumpy or shaky vehicle ride; poor steering response, stiffness or noise when steering; “nose dive” or instability when braking; or swaying/leaning when turning or changing lanes. As a general rule your shocks and struts should be checked before winter weather, to make sure your suspension system can best handle winter road conditions.
The steering and wheel alignment can be “bumped out” of alignment with just one incident with a pothole. If you’ve ever hit a curb and found your steering to be “off” in some way, it is much the same with potholes. If you haven’t been able to avoid potholes then you should consider getting an alignment check. If your wheels are out of alignment you will see faster tire wear and experience uneven handling.
The underside of your vehicle can often be damaged when you run through a pothole. The awful sound of your vehicle scraping the asphalt is most likely the muffler and exhaust pipe. Your exhaust is mounted to the undercarriage of your vehicle with special mounts which hold it securely in place. All it takes is one damaging pothole to damage those mounts leaving your exhaust loosely hanging on and waiting to be damaged.
If you suspect your vehicle has been damaged from a pothole visit your automotive professional for a maintenance inspection. Always ask to see your vehicle and have the Automotive Tech show you any damage they find. A reputable auto shop will be happy to have you visit in the tech work area and fully explain any recommendations.