Tire Maintenance & Safety

Pothole Season and Avoiding Tire Damage

Last updated 1/19/2023 - Originally published 1/19/2023
Written by SimpleTire

Winter weather brings colder temperatures and snow that make the season enjoyable for some. While these conditions can make a drive enjoyable, an entity is ready to play spoilsport in your fun game - potholes. These unwelcome guests have taken their positions on most freeways to damage your tires and other car parts. With the potholes in season, your ride is sure to be bumpy unless you are cautious. Potholes are notorious; they creep in just when you take your eyes off the road thinking it’s over now. How do you tackle pothole tire damage and avoid expensive repairs? Let’s find out.

How does a pothole form

It's a gradual process for a pothole to form. Varying in size and shape, potholes often catch you off guard on freeways. They are formed due to the constant freezing and thawing of water under the pavement that melts in the daytime and freezes during the night. The frequent freezing and thawing start breaking the pavement’s material which, ultimately, weakens it to a degree that it develops cracks. Meanwhile, the constant pressure of vehicles crossing over these cracks leads to small debris coming out of the structure. Over time, this process results in a pothole.

Signs you have pothole tire damage

There are some clear signs of possible pothole tire damage that should draw your attention, such as a bulging tire sidewall, bent rims, flat tire, car pulling to one side, and so on. The type of pothole damage that you are dealing with depends on the intensity of the impact, the size of the pothole, the set of tires of your vehicle, and several other factors.

Types of pothole damage your tires can face

Tire bubbles

A tire is not a mere rubber; it comprises belts, cords, and other materials depending on the type of tire you’re using. When your car hits a big pothole, the metal inside the tire may get damaged leading air to escape and form a bulge or bubble on its sidewall. Replacement is the only solution to this problem.

Car pulling to one side

The most common cause of a car pulling to one side is a misaligned wheel. If your car is pulling to one side, your encounter with the pothole could be a possible reason that has thrown off your tire alignment.

Bent Rim

Modern-day cars come with aluminum rims that may bend under heavy force exertion. If the pothole is deep enough, it could touch the tip of the rim and possibly bend it. It’s better to repair a bent rim as early as possible.

Flat tire

A flat tire from a pothole is instantly recognizable and should be repaired as early as possible. Try to repair the tire at the nearest tire shop to avoid running the car for long on flat tires, as it may damage your rim too.

Fluid leak

Deeper potholes may damage the underbelly of your car. They may dent your low-lying fluid pans and result in their leakage. It’s better to have a thorough look at the vehicle after you’ve encountered a nasty pothole.

Unusual exhaust noises

Pothole damage may bend, loosen, or clog your exhaust pipe leading to strange noises which can be easily picked. Visit a nearby repair shop to fix it.

Avoiding pothole tire damage during pothole season

Whether it's a pothole included flat tire or any other pothole damage, regular upkeep of your tires can help you lessen the impact. Here are some tips you can apply to avoid or reduce pothole impacts to a minimum.

Keep a safe distance

During pothole season, and in general, it is recommended you keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you so that you can spot potholes in advance and take necessary actions to get over or around them.

Drive slow

Drive at moderate speeds for extra reaction time and easy spotting of potholes. Avoid puddles at all costs, as you do not know what’s inside the filled water - it could be a trench!

Do not swerve

Most drivers swerve when they spot a pothole, but this could be dangerous at fast speeds as switching lanes compromises your safety.

Maintaining tire pressure

Make sure your tires are not overinflated or underinflated, as that can increase the impact of pothole damage. You should maintain the tire pressure in all tires as per the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Potholes are bound to form after winter weather, and most drivers are going to hit one sooner rather than later. Fortunately, regular upkeep of your car and tires coupled with safe driving practices should prevent severe damage from potholes. If you do hit a pothole, be sure to pull over when it’s safe to inspect your tires and car from damage, and visit your closest repair shop if you need a tire, rim, or any other piece of your vehicle repaired.

Yes, a handful of tire makers offer pothole coverage under their warranties. However, it is limited to one year of the purchase or the first 2/32 inch of tread life (whichever is earlier).

Who is responsible for pothole tire damage varies from State to State. In some instances, the State is responsible for upkeep of major roadways and allows drivers to file a claim should their tires or vehicles be damaged by a pothole. Be sure to check local and State laws to see who is responsible for pothole tire damage near you.

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