Potholes and Weather, A Driving Menace

Each year throughout the world, roads are plagued by holes. Some are small, some are large, but all can cause major headaches to your car, body and wallet.

Credit: State Farm via Flickr

Credit: State Farm via Flickr

Potholes are typically 3 to 5 inch holes in the road and caused when snow and ice melt into liquid water that seeps through the road’s pavement into the soil underneath. During the winter, this water expands as it refreezes, weakening the pavement above. When the ice in the soil melts, it leaves gaps inside the weakened pavement. Cars passing over the weakened pavement cause the road to break up in that spot, creating a hole in the road.

Credit: MoBikeFed via Flickr

Credit: MoBikeFed via Flickr

Potholes are common throughout the northern states, where overnight temperatures below freezing are typical. Peak season for these pavement pests is March and April, when freeze-and-thaw cycles are common daily occurrences. But this year is an exception! A winter season with unusual fluctuations in temperature (think the polar vortex and the days afterwards) and occasional heavy rain has lead to a surge in new potholes.

Credit: State Farm via Flickr

Wheel and tire damage from a pothole – Credit: State Farm via Flickr

Hitting a pothole with your car can cause significant damage. Flat tires are common because of the jagged nature of the pothole. These nuisances can also shift your car’s wheel alignment, wreck its suspension, and even rip a hole in the car’s oil pan, leaking oil onto the road.

Credit: Alan Stanton via Flickr

Credit: Alan Stanton via Flickr

So what can you do to protect yourself?

Here are some tips from American Family Insurance:

  • Keep your tires properly inflated. A tire could pop if the wheel rim pinches against the jagged edge of a pothole.
  • Beware of puddles – they could be deep, sharp-edged potholes filled with water.
  • Reduce your speed. Slower pothole hits generally result in less damage.
  • Brake lightly. Slamming on your brakes can cause greater tire damage and also compresses your vehicle’s front-end suspension system.
  • Don’t swerve. Your vehicle could hit the pothole on an odd angle, causing more damage to the tire, wheel rim and alignment.

Stay Safe! Know Before™.

The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team

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