7 tips for avoiding car damage from potholes

It's "pothole season!" Potholes can create a bumpy ride, but also damage your vehicle. 
Many potholes are caused when water seeps into soil under the pavement and then freezes and thaws, weakening the road. This may cause the pavement to crack, which, when combined with the weight of vehicles driving over the road, eventually turns these weak areas into potholes, says the Summit County Engineer in Ohio. Because of the role freezing temperatures can play in pothole formation, winter weather can often lead to the creation of potholes.
The tips below can help you handle potholes safely and may even minimize the impact to your car:

1. SAFE DISTANCE

Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you so you can easily spot potholes ahead.

2. USE CAUTION

Use caution when approaching puddles of water as they could really be potholes in hiding.

3. SLOW DOWN

If you can't avoid hitting a pothole, slow down before you hit it and firmly grip the wheel to avoid losing control of your vehicle. 

4. INFLATE TIRES

To minimize the impact that hitting a pothole can have on your car, ensure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer's recommended level, suggests Consumer Reports.

5. CAR SUSPENSION

Ensure your car's suspension is in good condition. Your mechanic can help you confirm this. 

6. REPORT POTHOLES

Help other motorists avoid damage by reporting potholes to your local municipality. Many major cities and states now have apps for sharing pothole locations.

7. DAMAGE TO LOOK FOR

These are some signs that your car may have sustained damage after hitting a pothole:
One or more deflated tires
Severe cracks or bulges in the tires
Dents in the wheel rims
The vehicle shaking and pulling to the left or right, which could indicate an alignment problem
Fluid leaks, which may mean your undercarriage is damaged
Odd noises coming from the exhaust system
If the pothole did cause damage to your vehicle, it may be a good idea to call your insurance agent to see if your auto policy might help cover some of the repair costs.
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