Three Ways Potholes Can Wreak Havoc on Your Car (And How to Avoid Them)

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It’s been a bad winter for drivers across the country.

As early as December, news reports began popping up in various geographic areas about how the polar vortex had caused this year’s pothole problem to become an exceptionally large one. Rochester, N.Y.’s Democrat and Chronicle referred to roads becoming “obstacle courses.” New Hampshire’s WMUR station drew attention to the fact that some holes even need to be patched up more than once before the season’s over.

No matter where you’re located, all those gaps in the road are doing horrible things to your car. Even at conservative speeds, driving over a pothole can cause serious auto damage that can get worse and worse over time. It’s still winter, which means you should watch out for potholes especially when they’re obscured by a light covering of snow. If you don’t, here’s what could happen:

Tires, Rims and Wheels

Even hitting one pothole can cause your rim to dent or, worse yet, crack altogether. A broken rim can puncture the tire and slowly let the air pressure decrease until you’re left with a flat. Your car might be in need of immediate rim repair, but you might not even know it. Always examine your tires after driving on snowy roads to ensure you don’t need to bring it into a shop for professional rim straightening or wheel repair.

Shocks and Struts

The more damage your shocks and struts take in, the less they’re able to absorb the bumps your car faces on the road. Early wear on shocks and struts can lead to serious suspension problems in the long run, and that can affect the steering and alignment of your wheels altogether. That can cost up to $100 in autobody repair, all for going too fast over a stupid pothole — so please, for the sake of your car, approach with caution.

Exhaust System

Bottoming out is never a good thing for a car to do. When your car dips and scrapes along the road, its exhaust pipe and muffler can get dragged or crushed along the asphalt. And if your car can’t properly exhale its gas fumes, it’s not just your car’s health that’s in danger, but your own. Getting your exhaust fixed is a bit more serious than any rim straightening job, so make sure you treat it as such should the situation arise.

Rough winters can make for rough spring auto work. You might need rim refinishing, rim straightening or worse, rim replacement — but you might not need any of those things if you stick to careful, deliberately cautious driving while there’s snow on the road. And if you know of a particularly rough road, find an alternate route. Your car will thank you. Learn more.

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