Keep a watchful eye with arrival of pothole season
As the ravages of winter subside and temperatures rise, there is probably a pothole out there with your name on it, cautions Car Care Canada. Cold temperatures, snow and rainfall create the perfect storm for the motorists' dreaded "perils of potholes period." Drivers know immediately when they hit a pothole. The heart-stopping, teeth-jarring noise is hard to mistake. However, it's not always immediately clear if hitting the pothole caused damage to the vehicle, and to what extent. Hitting a pothole can damage tires, wheels, steering and suspension, wheel alignment and more.
Car Care Canada recommends that motorists who experience any of the following warning signs after hitting a pothole should have a professional technician at their local repair shop inspect the vehicle:
Car Care Canada offers these tips to help protect vehicles against a pothole encounter:
- Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming-out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads. These are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car's ride and handling. Key components are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals and hub units and tie rod ends.
- Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear. These symptoms mean there's an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.
- Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the rim. These problems will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road in all sorts of driving conditions.
- Maintain full air pressure in all tires to provide as much cushion as possible between the pothole and the rim of the tire.
- Watch for potholes by leaving plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
- Before swerving around a pothole, be sure to check surrounding traffic.
- If you can't avoid a pothole -- at least slow down! Hitting a pothole at high speed increases the chance of damage to tires, wheels, shocks, struts or springs.
- When driving over a pothole-filled road, hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control.
- Do not brake when directly over a pothole. Applying the brakes causes the car's weight to shift to the front of the wheel and can increase damage from the impact.
- A broken shock or strut from a pothole encounter could alter the steering and handling of a vehicle and create dangers when driving at high speeds or in tight corners. Broken suspension components should be repaired immediately.