If driving on post-winter roads feels like you’re operating a Lunar Roving Vehicle across craters on the moon, you’re not alone. Along with spring flowers and showers come potholes. Cities like Omaha, DC, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, New York, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, LA and Seattle (to name a few) are no strangers to the pothole game. Freeze-thaw cycles, excessive heat, road salting and high traffic volume are main contributors. When snow and ice melt, the water seeps through road cracks underneath the pavement. Then when temperatures drop at night, the water freezes and expands, causing pavement to rise, bend and crack. Excessive traffic causes more wear and tear, and the cycle continues until a gaping pothole emerges to ruin your road trip or commute.
Hitting a pothole can have disastrous effects on your tires, shock absorbers, suspension systems, struts, rims and wheel alignment. On average, drivers are paying $306 for pothole-related repairs, while some unlucky drivers might be stuck with a four-digit repair bill. This doesn’t have to be you.
Follow these steps to become a pothole warrior:
- If you can’t avoid a pothole, brake before impact. Straighten the steering wheel and release the brakes before slowly crossing over the pothole.
- Keep your tires properly inflated.
- Travel on familiar roads, if possible.
- Use a navigation app like Waze to warn you of upcoming potholes.
- If you’re driving in traffic, look for hints from other vehicles ahead. If other drivers ahead are quickly changing lanes or braking suddenly, you may want to follow their lead.
- Always check your surroundings before making a sudden lane change or swerving to avoid a pothole.
- Proceed with caution on wet roads. Puddles may be concealing potentially disastrous potholes.
- Drive on well-lit roads for good surface visibility.
If you haven’t achieved warrior status yet and you need to find a mechanic, Openbay is here to make your car repair journey fast, simple and hassle-free. To save other drivers future problems, notify your state department of transportation of bad potholes on interstates, and those on city streets to your city’s public works department.
When life hands you lemons, make lemonade
Citizens of Omaha, Nebraska are using humor to get them through pothole season. After one Nebraskan man had to pay a $1,200 repair bill, he decided to create the “Potholes of OMAHA” Facebook page for other Omaha residents to share their horror stories and inspire action. This quickly turned into a page filled with memes to make light of the apocalyptic road conditions (the profile picture is Jaws jumping out of a pothole). Other drivers across the world chose to take an unexpected approach by planting flowers in the gaping holes.
You may have seen advertisements for Domino’s Paving for Pizza program, which vows to pay municipalities across America to repair cracks and potholes, because “bad roads shouldn’t happen to good pizza”. It might have seemed like a joke at first to put the fate of America’s road infrastructure in Domino’s hands, but the program has already led to progress in 16 states.
Audi responded to the pothole epidemic by introducing a front camera that can generate road surface data 18 times every second that controls a predicative active suspension system. Jaguar Land Rover is leading the charge on connected car technology that will allow vehicles to send and receive warnings about potholes, broken drains and manhole covers to signal the driver to slow down and alert the car to adjust its suspension settings. They are also exploring the possibility of sharing this data with road maintenance teams to identify and prioritize road repairs.
If an Audi or Land Rover is out of your budget, stick to our pothole warrior tips and compare quotes on Openbay to spend less time in the repair shop and more time on the road.
Check out more driving tips to protect you, your car and your wallet:
How to Check Your Tire Pressure
6 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Car
Things You Shouldn’t Say to Your Mechanic
5 Car Dashboard Warning Lights You Can’t Ignore
Driving in the Rain: How to Stay Safe