SPRINGFIELD—Spring is here but winter definitely left its mark on our roadways. Driving while dodging potholes can often resemble a ski slalom. It’s impossible to avoid all potholes, but swerving around them can do more damage if you’re involved in a crash. AAA New Jersey offers the following advice on how to properly hit a pothole and minimize damage.
Always have the proper pressure in your tires – it can make all the difference when you hit a pothole. With an under-inflated tire, you risk bending a wheel or damaging a steering or suspension component. With an over-inflated tire, you might damage the tire itself. AAA recommends checking the tire pressure every two weeks during the spring.
“The wide variation in spring temperatures – warm days and chilly nights – not only contributes to the creation of potholes, but can affect your tire pressure too,” explains Mike Coppola, an ASE-certified master mechanic and general manager of the AAA Car Care Center in Springfield.
For proper tire inflation information, check your vehicle’s owners manual or the tire information placard, which is located either on the inside of the driver’s side door, inside the glove compartment door or inside the fuel door.
Scan the road 20 – 30 seconds ahead to anticipate potholes. While you may not be able to see the pothole, you will see other drivers slowing down as they approach them. Be careful if you attempt to swerve around a pothole – you may wind up impacting something worse, like another car.
“If it’s imminent that you’re going to hit a pothole, don’t slam on the brakes. Let up on the accelerator as you approach the pothole, touching the brake pedal lightly to signal vehicles behind you. Don’t brake on impact but let the wheel roll through the hole,” advises Coppola. “Braking will only lock the wheel, increasing the chance for more severe damage from a solid hit.”
If all your preparation fails and your tires suffer a severe jolt, have them inspected by a trained technician as soon as possible.
“You’ll know right away if a pothole you hit resulted in damage,” says Coppola. “Most commonly, you’ll notice steering wheel vibration, uneven tread wear, loss of tire pressure or the pulling of your vehicle to one side.
“A particularly hard hit could bend the rim, preventing the tire from sitting properly on the wheel and resulting in a gradual loss of air pressure,” he adds.
Finally, AAA recommends you report potholes and save yourself and others from hitting the same crater again and again. To report a pothole, contact the New Jersey Department of Transportation at (800) POT-HOLE (768-4653) or online at www.state.nj.us/transportation.
The AAA New Jersey Automobile Club, headquartered in Florham Park, provides automotive, travel, insurance, financial and educational services to residents of Essex, Morris and Union Counties. Visit AAA online at AAA.com.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!