All drivers in the UK are aware of the growing problem of potholes on the roads and the damage that they can cause to our vehicles. Since dealing with potholes is, annoyingly, an inevitable part of driving, it is important that all drivers remain informed on several points. Thankfully, our handy guide is here to answer your questions, including ‘What do potholes do to your car?’, ‘How can you avoid sustaining pothole damage to your vehicle?’ and more!
What Do Potholes Do To Your Car? Our Guide
Pothole damage is a risk all drivers take when on the roads. Not only can it be unsightly, but pothole damage can also affect the functioning of your car. Fortunately, you do not have to put up with it! The experienced team at VCR offer a variety of services, including car body repairs in Milton Keynes that will restore your car to its original state with no sign that the damage ever occurred! Please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team for more information.
- How Are Potholes Formed?
- What Happens If You Hit A Pothole?
- Reporting Pothole Damage To Your Car
- How To Avoid Pothole Damage To Your Car
Potholes can vary in size and shape and are mainly caused by the expansion and contraction of water in the ground. When there has been a significant amount of rain on the road, and it freezes overnight, it begins to expand. This can cause fractures to form on roads and pavements, which are exasperated as more rainwater fills them before freezing and expanding again. Eventually, a full-on pothole will form. If not filled in, the pothole will continue to grow and begin to crack and bend the surrounding pavement.
Roads that are in constant use go through their fair share of wear and tear. If there is a vast amount of heavy traffic continuously travelling over a particular section of the road, it will eventually become a weak spot. This gradual degradation can also initiate the formation of a pothole.
The majority of potholes look relatively harmless to the unassuming eye, causing many to wonder, ‘Can a pothole really damage your car?’ Unfortunately, the answer is yes. If you have hit a pothole with your vehicle, these are the steps you should take:
- Pull over in a safe location and ensure that all of your passengers are unhurt
- Assess the damage to your vehicle
- Collect evidence of the event to report it (we explain this in more detail below!)
- Arrange for any necessary vehicle repairs to be completed
It is important that all repairs are carried out by a properly trained team. At VCR, our skilled technicians are highly experienced in completing a range of services, such as dented panel repairs in Milton Keynes. Please feel free to get in touch with us to find out more!
It can be extremely frustrating when your car sustains damage from a pothole, which may prompt you to want to take action. There are two things you can do: report the damage to your car to receive monetary compensation and report the pothole that caused the damage in order to prevent a similar event from occurring in the future.
How Can I Make A Pothole Damage Claim?
If you experience severe damage to your vehicle caused by a pothole, you are within your right to make a claim against your local council for compensation. In most cases, pothole-related damage is noticeable immediately after driving over it.
To make a claim, you will first need to gather as much evidence as possible. If it is safe to do so and there is no oncoming traffic, pull over and take photo evidence. Photos must include close-ups of the pothole itself and its positioning, along with your vehicle and any surrounding road signs; this will help authorities identify the location of the pothole. Try to take as many notes as you can; this can even be simple points noted down on your phone. Record the time and date that the incident happened and the weather condition.
To increase the likelihood of a successful claim, aim to make it as quickly as possible. The fastest way to make a claim is to fill in the form provided on your local council’s website and submit it, along with any evidence you are able to upload. For a full, in-depth guide on how to make a claim against authorities for pothole damage, take a look at this incredibly helpful Money Saving Expert article!
How Can I Report A Pothole?
Thousands of people drive over potholes daily and never report them to authorities. This means that although we all moan about the potential danger and expenses caused by potholes, as well as their unsightly appearances, we, as drivers, can do more to ensure that they get fixed.
FixMyStreet works towards helping you report problems such as potholes. You are given the option to report a number of issues, including street lighting and broken pavement slabs, allowing you to voice changes you would like your local council to implement. In many cases, potholes are not noticed by, nor reported to, councils simply because the road is not used enough, which means that you can help by reporting any problems you spot.
Local councils do have a duty of care to carry out regular maintenance and inspections of roads but often fail to fix potholes immediately. Potholes are graded by severity by the council, which influences which roads they repair first and how quickly they implement a plan of action. The highest risk potholes are those that have caused a large, deep hole in the road and are likely to result in fatal consequences; these have to be made safe within 2 hours. Potholes that are 30mm to 40mm in depth and 150mm in diameter will be fixed in 5 to 20 working days, again depending on the level of risk associated. Any potholes that are less than 30mm in depth and less than 40mm in diameter are seen as ‘unpleasing to the eye’ but, unfortunately, are unlikely to be fixed because they are not seen as a safety issue.
If you notice that a pothole that was once not a safety hazard is beginning to increase in size and depth, you are free to re-report it so that the council know to keep an eye out.
No vehicle owner wants to have to pay out for repairs or replacements on components that could have easily avoided damage. Although you cannot exclude all pothole-related potential damage, there are a few maintenance tasks and driving tips you can follow to keep the impact of potholes at a minimum.
Regular Tyre Maintenance
It is imperative to maintain the air pressure of your tyres and also to have sufficient tread. The tread depth of your tyres must meet the legal minimum 1.6mm threshold. However, as a safety precaution, you may want to consider maintaining a tread depth of 3mm during the colder months. Tyre pressure can be tested by using a tyre pressure gauge, and you can locate the pressure recommended for your vehicle in your handbook.
Ensuring that you maintain both sufficient tyre pressure and tread depth will give you enough grip on the road, reducing the risk of skidding over frozen-over potholes.
Slow Down When Approaching Potholes
If you believe that a pothole is unavoidable, then ensure that you slow your vehicle down well in advance before you reach it. For example, when driving on a busy dual carriageway, in most cases, you will have no choice but to go through the pothole as swerving would be too dangerous.
If you hit a pothole at high speeds, you run the risk of damaging multiple parts of your vehicle, including the suspension, tyres and other internal components. Potholes can also damage the rims and wheel alignment of your vehicle. If your car does go over a pothole at high speed, it can take a huge amount of impact on the rims, causing bending and potentially cracks.
Repair Any Scratches Sustained
The body of a vehicle itself is capable of withstanding a fair amount of impact when it comes to driving over cracks and holes in the road, although you are likely to experience scratches and scrapes to the paintwork. Unfortunately, scratches cause the outer protective layer of paint to expose the underneath metal, which, once in contact with moisture, will begin to rust.
Keep An Eye Out For Exhaust Damage
Exhaust pipes can take a harsh hit as they run underneath the underside of the vehicle. When a car goes over a pothole, the underneath of the carriage can hit the road causing damage to not only the exhaust but also the muffler and catalytic converter. If these components of your vehicle become damaged, then you will start to hear loud noises coming from the vehicle as you drive.
Fix Your Suspension
The suspension of a vehicle is a system of elements that connect the car to its wheels and allow them to turn. It supports the way in which a vehicle handles the road and the driving quality and is often the main vehicle component that becomes damaged due to potholes.
Sudden jarring from potholes can cause damage, shock, and misalignment of the suspension. If this does happen, your steering may become uncentered, which is both dangerous and hard to manage. Misalignment of the steering wheel can, in turn, cause damage to other areas of your car, such as your tyres. To the untrained eye, it can be difficult to see whether you have suspension damage which is why we recommend that you take your car to be serviced annually.
Managing Pothole Damage
Potholes are a growing issue in the UK and cause a significant amount of damage to vehicles each year. Unfortunately, we can witness freezing temperatures and warm sunshine all in one day, making our roads especially prone to potholes. If you think your car has sustained damage, you should always have it assessed, as underlying issues with car parts or the car body are not always visible. Please do not put the lives of yourself and others at risk by ignoring signs of damage. If you hear rattling, vibrations or screeching, take your vehicle to be looked at – it’s better safe than sorry.
We hope that our article has been useful in explaining all the information you need to know about potholes. If you are interested in our repair services, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team. As highly trained, skilled technicians, we can guarantee that your car will be virtually good-as-new following our services. If your car has sustained alloy wheel damage as a result of potholes, why not check out our previous article for tips on getting it fixed?