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The Danger of Potholes

At Ziems Ford Corners, we know Farmington residents are eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring. But in addition to longer days and warmer hours, few things herald the return of spring like potholes. In the Four Corners, the winter season is ready to give way to spring and our roads will once again be affected. 

It only takes one jolt from a pothole to affect a vehicle’s overall handling. Whether you hit it head-on, or you react in time to partially avoid it, an encounter with a pothole can damage your vehicle. Some forms of damage will immediately be apparent, a flat tire for instance. Other times you may not realize any harm was done. But over time, you might start to notice that your vehicle rides a little rougher, or that the handling has become a little sloppier. The initial damage caused by potholes can indeed be significant but unseen damage can lead to long-term problems. Here are some things to be on the lookout for: 

Tires and Wheels

Tires are the first thing to hit a pothole, so it should come as no surprise they could experience deterioration. Even if your tire doesn’t show immediate signs of damage the impact of hitting a pothole can weaken or stretch a tire’s belts and cords. This often leads to uneven wear, tire deterioration and can leave you facing a blowout or flat tire down the road. After a significant encounter with a pothole, take the time to inspect your tires for damage. Run your hand along the sidewall, feeling for bulges. If you find any evidence of bulging tires or bent rims, be sure to have them inspected immediately.

Rims

Since your rims are attached to the tires, they are the second impact location when you hit a pothole. Most modern rims are aluminum, so they can easily be warped. There are a few signs to look for with regard to rim damage. Drivers may experience vibration in the steering wheel or the car may not handle like it normally does. While these can also be symptoms of other issues, it can point to a bent rim. The sure-fire way to know is to do a physical inspection of the rim. A normal rim will appear flush with the tire but a damaged rim will appear visibly bent.

Shocks and Suspension

The shocks and suspension system are responsible for keeping your vehicle stable, absorbing impact and keeping tires on the road. Repeatedly hitting potholes can have a detrimental effect on a vehicle’s suspension system. You may notice that your vehicle doesn’t ride as well as it once did, things like excessive bounce and poor handling over bumps. Jolts caused by potholes can accelerate wear and tear of your suspension while decreasing its performance. Address any suspension issues with your mechanic right away. The longer you put it off, the more risk you face for additional damage the next time you hit a pothole.

Alignment

Pothole damage can take a toll on a car’s alignment. Vehicles without proper alignment won’t drive straight, instead, pulling to the left or right. Alignment problems caused by potholes can lead to potentially unsafe complications. Besides making a vehicle harder to handle, alignment issues can cause vibrations and uneven tire wear. If you notice your vehicle pulling to one side or the other while driving, it’s usually an indication of misalignment. This condition affects passenger safety, contributes to driver fatigue and reduces the lifespan of your tires. If you notice any of these signs, your Ziems Ford Quick Lane technician can help. 

Undercarriage

If the pothole you hit is deep enough, it is possible to bottom out, putting your undercarriage at risk. Hoses and lines can be punctured or torn, resulting in fluid leakage. The same goes for the exhaust system. Since it is located underneath your vehicle, the exhaust system can sustain damage from potholes. If your exhaust system begins to sound different, or you see fluids leaking under your car, have it checked by a mechanic.

What Should You Do?

The first line of pothole defense is defensive driving. Before you make an evasive maneuver, always be aware of traffic around you. Don’t have an accident just to avoid a pothole. If a pothole can’t be avoided, keep your steering wheel straight, reduce speed as much as possible and drive carefully through. Before you hit the road, always make sure you have proper tire inflation. Low tire pressure can cause bulges or blisters on the sidewalls and even dent the wheel. 

Unfortunately, potholes are a fact of life for most of us in the Four Corners. If you think your vehicle may have suffered the wrath of a pothole, call our Quick Lane Service Center today! 

At Ziems Ford Corners, we’re dedicated to keeping drivers in Farmington safely on the road year-round!