Wild Winter Weather Leaves Widening Potholes in Its Wake
CARSTAR Offers Tips on How to Avoid Dips and Damage in Your Daily Drive
As the snow and ice melt, potholes are popping up in the pavement faster than the early spring flowers. Heavy snow, winter floods and wide temperature swings have made 2019 one of the worst pothole seasons in history, according to AAA. Now, drivers face severe damage to their vehicle if they hit one of these concrete craters.
Potholes are formed by water, wear and tear, freeze-thaw cycles, excessive heat and time. The areas that are most prone to pothole development are where drainage is poor (specifically road dips), where vehicular traffic is greatest (especially heavy vehicle traffic) and where poor maintenance allows small cracks to worsen.
The average driver spends $600 annually to repair vehicle damage caused by potholes and other poor road conditions, and that figure will only get worse, according to AAA and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Repairs typically involve fenders, front bumpers, tires, shock absorbers, suspension systems, struts, rims, wheel alignment and catalytic converters. While potholes can cause hundreds and even thousands of dollars in damage to vehicles, 63 percent of Americans do not have the cash on hand to pay for those repairs, according to www.pothole.info.
CARSTAR repairs thousands of vehicles from pothole-related incidents each spring. Dean Fisher, chief operating officer for CARSTAR, offers the following tips on avoiding potholes and repairing the pothole damage.
Drive Defensively to Avoid Damage
• Leave enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, which allows you to see the oncoming potholes before potentially striking them.
• Be aware of other traffic or pedestrians on the roads before swerving to avoid a pothole.
• Lower your speed on pothole filled roads. More damage can be incurred to a vehicle striking potholes at higher speeds, including compromised handling of the vehicle.
• Don’t apply the brakes when driving over a pothole. This tilts the vehicle forward and places the amount of stress on the front suspension, which is the first part of the vehicle to strike the pothole.
Don’t Let Pothole Damage Go – Get It Checked Out
• After you hit a pothole, pay attention to any vibration, handling issues or unusual noises.
• The most common damage is a bent rim or hubcap, missing wheel weights and a tire out of round, which can be inspected and replaced by a body shop or tire specialist.
• Damage to the front or rear suspension or struts can affect handling and safety – this requires immediate attention from a repair center.
• Check fenders and wheel wells for body damage, particularly on vehicles with low clearance, and get these repaired before rust sets in. Also check that on-board technology housed in the bumper and fenders was not damaged.
Evaluate Your Claim for Insurance
• A pothole damage claim is a single car accident, which is filed as an at-fault accident and a collision by insurance carriers, so consider your damage estimate and deductible before you file a claim.
• Investigate if the local department of transportation pays for pothole damage. Find out who owns the road and then check out the policy of that managing agency.
• Take photos of the pothole and the resulting damage – immediately after it happens.
• Note the date and time of the accident, as well as how long the pothole has been there if it is a road that you travel frequently.
• Get a repair estimate from a respected, certified repair center to submit with your claim.
“Potholes may seem like a minor nuisance, until you hit one and have major damage,” said Dean Fisher. “With some defensive driving – and a quick response to repair any damage – you will be able to protect you and your vehicle on the road this spring.”
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