You’re driving along, minding your own business. Then you feel your right tire drop, followed by a crashing sound. You’ve hit a pothole, and you’re not happy about it. If you hit a deep pothole, you could not only damage your tire, but also bend the wheel and knock it out of alignment. If the tire is okay, but the wheel is out of alignment, the tire won’t rotate properly until you pay to have it fixed. This means you’ll wear the tire tread unevenly, and need to replace the tires sooner rather than later.
Pot holes are caused as groundwater settles under the asphalt of the road surface. Then the water freezes and expands over and over. Each time the water melts, this creates an air pocket under the road. With nothing to support the asphalt, as people drive over this particular spot, a pothole is formed.
Also, when a road is salted, this actually lowers the temperature at which water will freeze. This will speed up the cycle of freezing and melting, creating an air pocket under the road in less time. This usually happens closer to spring with the wider temperature fluctuations.
If you’ve hit a pothole, here are the steps to take to assess pothole damage.
- Tire Damage – In theory, tires are the only part of a car that should touch the road. When a tire hits the sharp edge of a pothole, the tire could puncture, causing a flat. You can also damage the tread or sidewall of the tire. Most likely, only one tire will be damaged when you hit a pothole. But, depending on the condition of your other tires, you may simply need to replace all of them, because all four tires on a car should have equal tread.
- Wheel – If your wheel hits the pothole edge, you could scrape the metal, leaving an unsightly mark. If driving at a decent speed, hitting a pothole can bend, crack, or chip a rim. A bent wheel won’t drive smoothly. Or the bent rim may not form an airtight seal with a tire, and put you at risk of losing one as you drive. And, like tires, if you need to replace one rim it is best to replace all four as a set.
- Suspension – A car or truck’s suspension is designed to absorb impact from uneven road surfaces. But when a car or truck hits a pothole, and the tire sinks below the road surface, parts of the suspension such as the rocker arm can take a hit. This is what will cause the tire to become misaligned. You need a mechanic to reset the alignment. But if you’ve bent the rocker arm or ball joint, these will need to be replaced. You’ll notice your suspension is having trouble if the car or truck rides a little rough or the steering wheel shakes as you drive.
Exhaust – As a car or truck dips on one side, there is the risk that the undercarriage of the car or truck will scrape along the road. When this happens, the exhaust pipes that run along the undercarriage could be scraped, dented, or ripped open, all of which will affect the proper flow of exhaust.
Pull Over Immediately
If you hit a pothole, the first thing you should do is pull over immediately and check out the damage. For one thing, it might not be safe to drive the car. If things look okay, drive slowly, paying attention to how
the car rides. If you think you’ve sustained some damage, you should take the car to a mechanic. Also, some communities have programs where you can report a pothole. Take a photo of the pothole and text the location to the local city government.
Invest in Tire Warranties
With all that can happen on the open road, it is always a good idea to purchase tire warranties when you purchase a new set of tires. The BMW tire and wheel protection warranty program entitles an owner to a new set of tires if damaged by hitting a pothole or from another roadside hazard. For more information about repairing pothole damage to your car or truck, call Wheel and Tire Care at 347-308-6161.