Spring is not all sunshine and songbirds – it’s also when potholes bloom across the pavement you are driving on daily. Depending on where you live, potholes can number into the hundreds of thousands and are a source of stress to road users and road repair crews alike.
While municipalities have certain maintenance responsibilities when it comes to keeping roads safe and in good repair, it’s common to see potholes on the road left unfilled for a while, especially when road surface temperatures fluctuate.
Depending on its size, and how fast you are driving, striking a pothole can result in damage to your vehicle, such as absent hubcaps, cracked wheels, punctured tires, damaged suspension and wheel misalignment. Such damage can compromise the safety, performance and handling of your vehicle, sometimes to the point that your car is not drivable and needs to be towed right away. Auto repairs from pothole damage can get pricey quickly.
What to do when a pothole causes damage to your vehicle
So, what are your options if you hit a pothole while driving on the road?
If you purchased collision coverage on your auto insurance policy, you may be able to make a claim with your insurance provider. Call your insurance representative if you wish to find out more about your car policy.
You may also be able to make a claim after you hit a pothole with the municipality. Generally, it is a good idea to do the following quickly after hitting a pothole:
- Take a photo of the pothole and any visible damage to your car.
- If there are witnesses, get their contact information.
- The sooner you can notify your insurer the better chances they have of recovery with the municipality.
- Obtain at least two quotes from a certified mechanic with an itemized list of vehicle repairs required.
- Keep invoices and receipts for the car repairs you’ve made as proof of payment.
The length of time you have to submit your claim varies greatly by municipality. If you want to maximize your chances of getting reimbursed for the car damage, don’t delay. Get your insurer involved early to establish how the claim will be rated and to determine if it is a single vehicle accident or proven to be the result of municipal negligence.
Tips on how to avoid hitting a pothole and preventing pothole damage to your car
Prevention is key to avoiding potholes. To reduce and prevent the chances of striking a pothole while driving, it’s good to practice the following:
- Keep your eyes on the road while driving.
- Avoid puddles, shoulders and slush on the road.
- Check your vehicle tire pressure regularly and ensure each wheel is inflated to your car’s specification.
- If a pothole is unavoidable, reduce your driving speed, but only if it’s safe to do so, and without slamming on the brakes. Sudden braking pulls the weight of the vehicle forward and can actually cause more damage than going over the pothole at a steady speed.
- Report potholes to your municipality as you see them. Several cities offer easy ways to submit pothole reports online or through dedicated phone numbers.