What to Do If You Hit a Pothole
One of the most common and dreaded hazards of everyday driving is the pothole. Not all potholes are created equally, of course. You might sail over one without any issues whatsoever, and your car may feel the lingering effects from one for some time. Those effects can be quite costly, however, as the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates, drivers spend $3 billion a year on damage to their cars from potholes.
If you do hit a pothole, here are some things to keep in mind.
Don’t panic. Try to not panic or get too angry at yourself for driving over a pothole. They’re everywhere. In Denver, for instance, the city fills 60,000 to 100,000 potholes a year. Houston has set up a website, HoustonPotholes.org, devoted to tracking potholes. It’s a serious, frustrating issue for drivers. Potholes can destroy engines and even transmissions.
Pull the car over and look for damage. That may not be necessary for every pothole you hit. But if you do run over a pothole, and feel it is significant, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pull over somewhere safely and inspect at your car. Are there any weird bulges on the tires? Any dents on the tire rim? Do you see any fluids leaking from the car, other than maybe the water from your air-conditioning, which is normal? If everything checks out, you can keep driving.
Keep your antenna up for possible damage. You’re not quite out of the woods yet. How’s the car handling itself while you drive? There are some pothole red flags you should still be on the lookout for, including…
You have less control of the car. This is an easy one. You don’t need us telling you that’s a bad thing. Your steering or suspension may have been affected by the jolt the pothole gave your vehicle. If that is the case, bring your car into a Milex Complete Auto Care as soon as possible. If your car is shaking or seems to sway as you turn, or you’re now bouncing more than usual on rough roads, this is a problem that won’t improve or go away over time.
Your car doesn’t seem to drive quite straight. That is, your car seems to want to veer slightly left or right. You may now have an alignment issue, where all over your tires aren’t precisely pointed in the same direction. Again, please drop by Milex. If you get your tires aligned right away, you probably won’t have to buy new tires. But when you drive on tires that are misaligned, your tires start wearing down unevenly, which leads to tire troubles.
You hear strange sounds. Pothole damage can sometimes lead to damage to the exhaust system. That can mean using up more fuel or putting out more pollution into the air. Your muffler may soon need replacing, if it doesn’t already. You don’t want to put this off either. Take your car to your nearest Mr. Transmission if you think you have transmission issues, and we’ll be glad to take a look.
One more thing. If the pothole you ran over was especially harrowing, even if you and your car came over it just fine, you might want to play dutiful citizen and report it. Many communities and states have websites where you can spread the world about problematic potholes. Your fellow drivers will thank you, and you’ll thank yourself, the next time you’re driving on the same road.