As the ravages of winter subside and temperatures rise, there is probably a pothole out there with your name on it. Record cold temperatures, snow and rainfall in many parts of the country have created the perfect storm for the motorists’ dreaded “perils of potholes period.”
Drivers know immediately when they hit a pothole. The heart-stopping, teeth-jarring noise is hard to mistake. However, it’s not always immediately clear if hitting the pothole caused damage to the vehicle, and to what extent.
Hitting a pothole can damage tires, wheels, steering and suspension, wheel alignment and more. The Car Care Council recommends that motorists who experience any of the following warning signs after hitting a pothole should have a professional technician at their local repair shop inspect the vehicle.
• Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming-out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads. These are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Key components are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals and hub units and tie rod ends.
• Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear. These symptoms mean there’s an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.
• Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the rim. These problems will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road in all sorts of driving conditions.
If you’ve hit a pothole, the Car Care Council can help you find a repair shop in your area. The council’s web site features a “Find a Shop” locator at http://www.carcare.org/carcare_location.
Car Care Council
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