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Auto Club: Strategies for Protection from Potholes

(Los Angeles, Jan. 11, 2005) — The onslaught of cold winter rain, and in some areas of the Southland, ice, sleet and snowfall, is causing the emergence of potholes. Potholes, caused by water working its way into asphalt and cracking it, can damage vehicle suspension components and increase the possibility of costly repairs, said Dave Skaien of the Auto Club's Approved Auto Repair Network.

The Auto Club is issuing the following recommendations to help protect vehicles against the jarring experience of a pothole encounter.

  • Maintain proper air pressure in all tires to provide as much cushion as possible between the pothole and the rim of the tire. Consult the vehicle owner's manual for the correct pressure.

  • Watch for potholes by leaving plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Alert drivers have plenty of time to avoid potholes. Before swerving around a pothole be sure to check surrounding traffic to determine if it's safe to change lanes.

  • Maintain a safe speed for the weather conditions. If a pothole cannot be avoided, slow down, if possible. Hitting a pothole at high-speed increases the chance of damage to tires, wheels, shocks, struts, springs or suspension components. High speed also increases the chance of losing control of the vehicle, especially if a series of potholes occurs on a curved or uneven roadway.

  • When driving over a series of potholes, reduce vehicle speed and hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control.

  • If possible, don't brake when directly over a pothole. Applying the brakes causes the car's weight to shift to the front of the vehicle and wheels and can increase damage from the impact.

  • Beware of water that may be concealing a deep pothole.

"Hitting even one severe pothole could alter the alignment of a wheel from suspension damage resulting in uneven tire wear. Uneven and premature tire wear means the tire will need to be replaced sooner than necessary at needless expense," said Skaien.

"A broken shock or strut from hitting a pothole could alter the steering and handling of a vehicle, and create dangers when driving at higher speeds or in tight corners. Broken or damaged suspension components should be remedied immediately," Skaien added.

Motorists who suspect their vehicle may have been damaged by a pothole should take their vehicle to an Auto Club Approved Auto Repair facility where it can be carefully inspected, and serviced, if necessary, the Auto Club recommends.

Maintaining your vehicle's tires is also crucial to safe driving, said Skaien. Every other fill-up, walk around the vehicle and check tires for uneven or excessive tread wear as well as proper inflation. Refer to the vehicle's doorjamb or glove box for original equipment specifications or the manufacturer of the replacement tire for proper tire pressure inflation, he added. The Auto Club also recommends a tire rotation approximately every 7,500 miles, said Skaien. Check your owner's manual for your specific vehicle's service recommendations.

There are more than 600 Auto Club approved repair facilities in Southern California and more than 7,500 approved repair facilities in North America. The names and addresses of these shops can be located at or by calling your local AAA motor club. All AAA approved shops are required to prominently display their affiliation with the Auto Club outside their place of business and many advertise Auto Club approval in the telephone directory.


CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.