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Potholes – a car’s worst enemy

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Winter brings occasional snow, regular sleet and seemingly constant rain. Whatever the actual weather conditions in the area you live and drive in, you can be sure the elements will be making life hard for your local roads.

All it takes is one small break in the surface of the road; add lots of water, big temperature changes and plenty of traffic running over it, and in no time at all a pothole has developed.

In winter, they can form and reach damaging depths in a matter of days.

As always, potholes seem to crop up when you least expect them, and they're tough to avoid, especially in low light and night conditions. While running over a pothole can give you an uncomfortable bump, it’s not just you that takes a hit; they can cause plenty of damage to your wallet or purse at the same time.

Potholes and poor road conditions accelerate vehicle deterioration, maintenance costs, fuel consumption and tyre wear and tear.

When driving, especially over winter, watch out for potholes and make sure you know what to do if you can’t avoid hitting one.

Ensure your tyres are properly inflated. A tyre could pop if the wheel rim pinches against the jagged edge of a pothole. Also, properly inflated tyres increase ride comfort, provide superior road-holding and improve fuel economy.

Some helpful tips

Look out for seemingly harmless puddles – these could actually be deep, sharp-edged potholes filled with water.

Reduce your speed. Striking a pothole at a lower speed usually means less damage and discomfort.

Apply your brakes gently. Heavy braking loads up the front suspension of your vehicle and can lead to greater tyre damage.

Don't swerve to avoid the pothole. Sudden movement can result in loss of traction and cause alarm to surrounding motorists. It might also mean that your car might strike the pothole at an odd angle, causing more damage to the tyre, wheel rim and alignment.

If you can’t avoid a pothole and hit one, make sure you look for any damage as soon as you can.

Make sure your tyres are still inflated to reduce damage to wheel rims.

When driving, if you notice your vehicle pulling to one side, you may have a problem with your alignment. Get it checked: driving with mis-aligned steering is not only dangerous, but it can set up damaging and irreversible wear patterns in your tyres that will quickly render them unsafe.

Some local bodies have a pothole-reporting process. If you see a pothole that needs repair, contact your local council.

As long as we have roads it seems we’ll have potholes – make sure you are well prepared when you come across the next one.