Two-thirds of Americans are concerned about potholes on local roadways, reports MarketWatch, and rightfully so! After a long, wet winter, you’d be hard-pressed to get through pothole season without hitting one. Help keep your car working (and looking) its best by avoiding these four things when you hit a pothole!
When You Hit a Pothole
DON’T brake over the pothole.
It can be a knee-jerk reaction to brake sharply when you hit a pothole – especially if you’re traveling at a high speed. However, braking directly over a pothole could actually cause more damage to your vehicle.
Here’s why. When you hit the brakes, you’re compressing your vehicle’s suspension and causing your car to dip down in the front. This also means your suspension won’t be able to efficiently absorb the shock of the pothole, so you won’t have maximum suspension travel over the front wheels. In short, keep your foot off the brake pedal before you hit the pothole.
That being said, it is ideal to slow down before hitting the pothole. The faster you’re going, the higher your chance of damaging your vehicle. Give yourself a chance to see the pothole and plenty of time to slow down by leaving space between your car and the car in front of you.
Wait, why not swerve out of the way and avoid pothole damage altogether? It’s a common reaction, but swerving to miss a pothole can cause more harm and even put you in greater danger.
Swerving into the pothole at an angle can cause your front tire to hit the edge sharply. This can cause greater damage than driving straight over the pothole. Even more importantly, swerving violently can mean leaving your lane of traffic or leaving the roadway – two scenarios that can have much worse outcomes than simply hitting a pothole.
DON’T loosen your grip on the steering wheel.
As your body braces for the jolt of the pothole, keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel. Don’t let go of the steering wheel! The impact of the pothole can cause your car to swerve or bounce, and maintaining a firm hold on the steering wheel could help you stay in control.
DON’T ignore potential signs of pothole damage.
You know how your car drives and you can tell when something feels off. Don’t ignore your gut! Things like changes in your tires, noises coming from the exhaust, a shaking steering wheel, or leaking fluid are all signs your vehicle has pothole damage. Shrugging off minor issues can cause them to turn into big (expensive) problems.
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