This year’s brutal winter weather has resulted in an unprecedented number of potholes appearing on roads and highways across the country, causing considerable damage and unexpected, costly repairs for car owners.
“No matter where you drive these days, there’s a pothole epidemic and as winter turns to spring, it’s only going to get worse,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Drivers know immediately when they hit a pothole, but what they don’t know is if their vehicle has been damaged in the process. While tires and wheels can be visually checked, potholes can also cause considerable damage to the steering, suspension and alignment systems that you just can’t see.”
Motorists will spend nearly $5 billion on car repairs from damage caused by potholes, according to a recent report by WJLA-TV in Washington D.C. The U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) estimate that poor road conditions cost the average motorist around $335 a year
If you hit a pothole while driving, the Car Care Council recommends that you watch for the following warning signs and have your vehicle inspected by a professional technician without delay.
· 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.
The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council’s Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.