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This is the time of year when potholes start to appear, or existing ones become worse.

There are at least 2.39m potholes in this country’s road network according to research by MoneySupermarket.com.

Water gets into gaps beneath the road surfaces and expands when it freezes. As a result, road materials are distorted and dislodged. Passing traffic weakens the area even more, and cracks and chips then turn into holes in the road.

When your car drives over them, you could suffer damage to your tyres or wheels, which in turn could affect your steering alignment. Let’s take a look at the main damage potholes cause to vehicles.

Tyre and wheel damage

Tyres are susceptible to damage from potholes, with issues like tread separation, sidewall bulges or punctures. The hard edge of a pothole can press against your tire, slicing the rubber or breaking the belts that hold a tyre together.

Low, sporty cars are particularly prone to pothole damage. Properly inflated tyres will help you to avoid problems.

Potholes can cause scrapes to wheel rims, and sometimes the impact of a pothole can force a wheel to bend or become distorted. If this happens, the wheel may not form an airtight seal with the tyre.

Small cracks and fractures to the wheel rim can be repaired. But any chips or chunks missing will result in the wheel having to be replaced.

Misaligned suspension

The sudden jolt of hitting a pothole can cause damage to your suspension, including misalignment. If your suspension is bent out of shape, you may notice your car veers off centre.

It will need to be fixed by a mechanic, otherwise your steering wheel will pull off in one direction, the handling of your car may feel loose, and your tires will wear unevenly.

Body and exhaust scrapes

If your car sits low to the ground, potholes can damage low-hanging bumpers or side skirts. Usually it’s just a scrape, but occasionally it can cause a more serious problem to your bodywork.

Another issue is the exhaust pipe running under your car. A deep pothole may cause you to scrape your undercarriage. A serious impact could end up denting the exhaust pipe or producing a hole.

If your exhaust has been damaged, you may hear an unusual noise or experience a loss of power.

How to avoid pothole damage

Check your vehicle’s tyres are correctly inflated and your suspension properly aligned. Hopefully, your car will roll over any potholes without them inflicting any damage.

However, if you do experience any unexpected jolts, then get your car checked out by a mechanic. If you don’t, you could end up with expensive repairs and replacements later on.

Pothole repairs are usually low cost. Often, they’re not worth claiming on your insurance as you have to pay the policy excess and you could lose your no claims discount.

Would your car benefit from an inspection for damage?

We offer car servicing, maintenance and repair for all makes and models of vehicles, including classic and vintage cars. Free collection and delivery can be arranged if you live near our Fleet or Dogmersfield service centres.