This Season, Beware of Potholes
by: Mike Najjar
As the weather warms up, the road hazards of snow and ice seem to fade with the cold, but with changing seasons come new risks to be aware of. Springtime tends to be wet and rainy, with melting snow and ice, and climbing temperatures. This becomes a perfect recipe for creating potholes, those sneaky annoyances that can wreak havoc on your tires. During the winter, cracks form due to moisture and ice expanding weakened fractures in the road surface. As the cracks get worse they can become torn out of the road by the weight of passing cars, winter chains, or studded tires. In areas with heavy spring and winter rainfall sinkholes can form with the potholes, creating even deeper road hazards. Because potholes can form on any road surface, keeping a diligent eye on road will help protect your from their potential harm, but most potholes are nearly invisible to drivers.
Everyone has had a run in with a pothole at least once, from a minor jolt to possibly even a blown tire. I personally have lost many hubcaps to dreaded potholes. Be mindful of roads that have the potential for potholes, as it is equally dangerous to swerve trying to avoid a pothole, especially at highway speeds. The problem with potholes is that your vehicle’s alignment and suspension will adjust to the sudden change because only one tire will suddenly dip below the road surface when it his the hole. Most modern vehicles are designed to take certain minor changes to road surfaces, but depending on the severity of the pothole, your vehicle may not be able to adjust enough, and this can cause damage to the drive shaft, the suspension, wheel alignment, or to the tires.
Potholes are a leading cause of blown tires and one of the most dangerous road hazards out there. Striking a pothole hard enough can damage tires internally and compromise your safety even miles after you’ve hit one. In the event that you hit a pothole and the tire blows, do not overcorrect or jerk the wheel. Try to remain calm and take your foot off the gas, go with it, turn into the skid, and slowly pull over. There is typically no reason to slam on the breaks, as the non-functioning tire will act as an anchor to slow the vehicle down, anyway. Make sure you have a spare tire and tire jack in your trunk at all times.
If you are a victim of a springtime pothole run-in, get into your trusted mechanic or automotive shop right away to have the tire checked for any signs of long-term damage. An unbalanced wheel will cause undue wear to the tread and will also soon affect the other tires if there is unusual pull. Have the suspension and drive shaft looked at, as well as the alignment. Typically, alignment will be affected because the pothole has disrupted or knocked the wheel into a different position than the adjacent wheel. This will have to be adjusted by a mechanic to prevent unnatural wearing of the tread, which will shorten the life, and diminish the safety of your tires.
For help with your tires, suspension, alignment, and wheel balance or for more safety tips for spring driving, contact us or stop in today! Have a happy and safe spring!
|This Season, Beware of Potholes was written by Mike Najjar of Master Auto and Tire|