Drive to any town or city in the UK, and you’d be wise to avoid potholes, cracks and ruptures in the road if you want to arrive at your destination with your car intact.
It’s a sad fact, but Britain’s roads are in a bad way. According to The Telegraph, potholes are damaging cars at least every 11 minutes across the UK, with around 50,000 drivers making claims for pothole-related damages last year.
But just how big of a problem do potholes pose to your car, and how – as a motorist – can you deal with the deteriorating state of Britain’s roads? To find out, here’s a look at the damage potholes can cause your car, and some tips on how best to avoid them.
Potholes – What’s the Problem?
According to a report by the Asphalt Industry Alliance, around 2.7 million potholes were filled in on UK roads last year. Of course, not all of these holes are wide or deep enough to damage your car, but they can make life pretty miserable behind the wheel if you drive into them repeatedly.
The amount of damage caused by a pothole depends on a number of factors, including your speed, the angle at which your car’s wheel hits the hole, and the severity of the hole itself.
If you’re lucky, your encounter with a pothole will cause little to no damage. If luck’s not on your side however, your car could suffer any of the following mechanical issues:
Tyre and Wheel Damage
As the wheels are the only part of the car that come in contact with the surface of the road, they take the full force of the blow from potholes. That’s why, in most cases of pothole related damage, it’s the wheel and the tyre causing the problem.
Common symptoms related to pothole damage include lumps in the tyre, cracked alloys, buckled wheels and tracking and balance issues. If you experience unusual vibration, road noise or handling issues after hitting a pothole, this could indicate tyre or wheel rim damage.
Suspension and Steering Issues
Although much less common than tyre damage, potholes can cause issues with the suspension and steering of your car – particularly if you’ve struck a deep hole. If you hit a large pothole at speed, you run the risk of breaking essential components on the underside of your car, including shock absorbers, dampers and even the stabiliser bar.
Look out for slight drifting, a rough, unsteady drive and uneven tyre-wear. If you feel any of these, take the car to your local mechanic.
Driving Advice: How to Avoid Pothole Damage
You can’t always swerve to avoid potholes, but careful driving can help.
1. Watch the Road
Unless you’re faced with a large volume of traffic, try to watch the surface of the road where possible to spot any approaching potholes. Pay particular attention to puddles and surface water, as they can conceal holes and cracks.
2. Stay Alert
If you spot a pothole and want to avoid it, be sure to stay alert to other road users before you alter your course. Check your mirrors, and avoid swerving in a dangerous and unpredictable manner.
3. Watch Your Speed
The damaging effects of hitting a pothole will increase immeasurably if you’re driving too quickly, so it pays to slow down on particularly rough surfaces.
4. Grip the Steering Wheel Properly
If you’re aware of upcoming potholes, take a firm grip of the steering wheel in the 10 to 2 position. This will help you keep control of your car after driving into a particularly deep hole.
5. Drive Carefully Over a Pothole
If you know you’re going to hit a pothole, drive over it with your wheels straight, and let the car dip into the hole. Allowing the wheel to enter the hole will avoid unnecessary strain, and reduce the likelihood of damaging your tyres.
At Holts, we have a range of products developed to help you solve your car problems and get back on the road. Find out more at www.holtsauto.com/holts