What damage can a pothole cause to your car?

What damage can a pothole cause?

Potholes are all over the news right now. Reports are that potholes on UK roads are causing huge problems and reports are the highest they’ve been in 5 years.

But what sort of damage can a pothole cause to you car? Well quite a bit as it happens. In this post we look at the 4 main areas of damage that driving over a pothole could cause to your vehicle:

  1. Tyres
  2. Wheels
  3. Suspension
  4. Steering

4 ways a pothole can cause damage to your car

1. Tyres

A pothole can damage a tyre in several ways. Some are visible and some are less obvious.

The first thing you should do if you encounter a sizeable pothole is to check your tyres for visible splits, tears, or even sections of missing tyre wall.

If you spot and damage to your tyres you should get this seen to immediately. You’re legal to drive to get the problem fixed, but it should be looked at as soon as possible.

We don’t fix tyres in our Leicester workshop, but we do recommend these local businesses:

Some tyre damage won’t be visible from a quick check on the street. An impact with a substantial hole in the road might damage the internal integrity of the tyre.

A car tyre has cords or steel bands (steel radials) that gives the tyre its shape and strength. If any of the steel radials are damaged, the tyre will be deformed.

You won’t be able to see this just by checking the car as it sits on the road. If there is a problem with the tyre cords, the vehicle will need to be jacked up and the wheel rotated and thoroughly checked.

Tyres with damaged steel radials are potentially more dangerous than a split or tear. A damaged tyre could eventually fail without warning causing a blowout.

The best thing to do is to take your vehicle into a garage and have the wheel checked. Give us a call if you’ve hit a pothole and are worried you car tyre may have internal damage.

2. Wheels

Unsurprisingly, the impact of hitting an unexpected hole in the road can have a huge impact on the wheels of your car.

This is especially problematic for cars with low profile sports tyres because there’s less cushioning to protect the wheel.

Hitting a pothole can cause alloy wheels to crack, deform, or lose shape. Ideally your wheel will be perfectly round to function as a wheel!

Steel wheels are less prone to crack but just as liable to deform or lose shape.

A deformed wheel may not be immediately obvious just by looking at it. Again, the only way to really check is to jack the vehicle and rotate the wheel to measure whether it is still in shape.

A crack on the outside of an alloy wheel will be visible. however they can also crack internally. This may cause your tyre to keep deflating slowly.

If this is happening after hitting a pothole, it might mean that the alloy is cracked internally or has a hairline crack that isn’t visible. You’ll need to bring it in to the workshop to get it checked out.

3. Suspension

A pothole can cause damage to your car’s suspension in may ways including:

  • Broken springs
  • Bent track rods (steering arm)
  • Deformed wishbone
  • Damaged shock absorbers
  • Plus several other small components

There are a few ways to identify damage to the suspension of your car. If you’ve hit a pothole hard, look out for:

  • Knocking noises from under the car
  • Wayward steering (pulling in either direction)
  • Steering wheel no longer in the central position

If you notice any of these after hitting a pothole, give us a call and get your vehicle checked out to make sure it’s still roadworthy, and to avoid bigger problems down the line.

4. Steering

As mentioned above, the steering wheel can be knocked off centre if you hit a hole in the road with some force. You’ll probably notice this as soon as you get in the car and start to drive if the steering wheel is in an unfamiliar position.

Another way the steering can be affected is if the car seems to drift to the left or right rather than driving in a straight line. This is usually happens because a steering component has been bent by the impact.

This might feel like your fighting the steering. If the rear wheels are out of alignment after an impact with a pothole. This causes the vehicle to “crab”. It used to be a particular problem with minis.

Can you claim for damage to your car as a result of a pothole?

If a pothole is more than 22mm deep it may be possible to claim compensation for damage to your vehicle.

Depending on where the pothole is located, you’ll need to contact your local council or the national highways authority

Repairing damaged caused by a pothole

We’ve covered what damage a pothole can cause to your car. But what about repairs?

If you notice any issues with your steering or hear unusual noises after an encounter with a pothole, get in touch and get your vehicle checked out.

It’s not expensive to have your vehicle inspected, and will give you peace of mind after any incident. We always give you all the options if there’s any work to be done before going ahead.

We’ve seen a lot of suspension spring replacements recently – and not all due to pothole damage. Other intentional road irregularities such as speed humps, traffic calming measures, and low profile low visibility bus/bike line marker curbs can also cause damage to your car.

So, stay alert, keep your eyes peeled, and go slow to minimise damage from potholes and other road surface imperfections.

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