Guide: Tips for avoiding car damage from potholes

It's "pothole season!" Potholes can create a bumpy ride and damage your vehicle. 
Many potholes are caused when water seeps into soil under the pavement and then freezes and thaws, weakening the road. This may cause the pavement to crack, which, when combined with the weight of vehicles driving over the road, eventually turns these weak areas into potholes, says the Summit County Engineer in Ohio. Because of the role freezing temperatures can play in pothole formation, winter weather can often lead to the creation of potholes.
The tips below can help you handle potholes safely and may even minimize the impact to your car:


Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you so you can easily spot potholes ahead.


Use caution when approaching puddles of water as they could really be potholes in hiding.


If you can't avoid hitting a pothole, slow down before you hit it and firmly grip the wheel to avoid losing control of your vehicle. 


To minimize the impact that hitting a pothole can have on your car, ensure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer's recommended level, suggests Consumer Reports.


Ensure your car's suspension is in good condition. Your mechanic can help you confirm this. 


Help other motorists avoid damage by reporting potholes to your local municipality. Many major cities and states now have apps for sharing pothole locations.


These are some signs that your car may have sustained damage after hitting a pothole:
  • One or more deflated tires
  • Severe cracks or bulges in the tires
  • Dents in the wheel rims
  • The vehicle shaking and pulling to the left or right, which could indicate an alignment problem
  • Fluid leaks, which may mean your undercarriage is damaged
  • Odd noises coming from the exhaust system
  • If the pothole did cause damage to your vehicle, it may be a good idea to call your insurance agent to see if your auto policy might help cover some of the repair costs.
It's prime pothole season on roadways around the tri-state. Are there potholes in your area or along your commute that need attention? If you can safely take a photograph or video, share your pothole content with News 12 using the form below. Make sure to include the location (and be specific!)