As you are driving along, you suddenly feel the jolt of your car running over a hidden pothole that you did not even see. Potholes are often a stealth hazard, popping up without warning when you least expect them. With the warmth of spring comes an increase in the amount of potholes. Potholes develop as roads freeze and thaw, which causes the dirt to erode away and weakens the blacktop. Richard Retting, director of safety/research at Sam Schwartz Engineering, the Fairfax, Va. transportation firm, estimates that the nationwide cost of pothole damage this year will run to nearly $6.4 billion. These sneaky potholes can take a toll on your vehicle and can really hurt your wallet.
Thankfully, there are five steps that you can take to help minimize their impact:
Road signs: Watch out for puddles on the road, they could potentially be hiding potholes. Especially ones that are deceptively deep and could cause the most damage to your vehicle.
Slow your roll: By reducing your speed on rough roads, you can help lessen the wear on your vehicle and it may protect it from damage if you were to encounter a pothole.
Space is the place: The more distance you leave between your car and the one in front of you, the better chance you have of spotting a pothole and avoiding it.
Braking bad: If you are unfortunate to run over a pothole, do not slam on your breaks! Braking hard while hitting a pothole puts extra stress on the front suspension of your vehicle and can cause tire damage as well.
Air supply: Make sure to always keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure and check the pressure if your tires at least once a month. Maintaining properly inflated tires can help serve as your first line of defense against those nasty potholes.
Sometimes hitting a pothole is simply unavoidable. Most likely, only your nerves are rattled, but you should always inspect your vehicle as soon as possible for any damages after hitting a pothole.
Rubber meets the road: Always check the tire pressure after driving over a pothole, and make sure tires are inflated to the recommended pressure (posted on the inside of the driver’s side door, and in the owner’s manual). A properly inflated tire can help reduce damage to wheel rims. If you notice any cuts or gashes in the tire or cracked finish on your wheels (which may indicate that you have bent rims) take your vehicle to your Ford Dealer Service Center, where certified technicians will perform Multi-Point Inspection of your vehicle. Bent wheels are often difficult to see without putting the tire and wheel assembly on a tire balance machine.
Straight talk: If you have to hold the steering wheel at an angle in order for your vehicle to go straight, or if it consistently pulls to one side, head to your Ford Dealer Service Center, where certified technicians can check your alignment with state-of-the-art equipment. Correcting the alignment can help prevent damage to your tires and help ensure that the vehicle handles smoothly and safely.
The hard facts: Potholes can harm your vehicle and inspecting for damage early can sometimes help you avoid more costly repairs down the road. But remember, if you are ever unsure about the way your vehicle is functioning, head to your local Ford Dealer Service Center to get it checked out. That way you can help ensure the safe handling of your vehicle in a future emergency.
Good luck and remember to drive carefully!