Winter is on the run, with spring coming soon. As frozen roads are warmed by the sun by day, and re-frozen at night, we find the appearance of the enemy of every vehicle suspension – the pothole. Small potholes are annoying, ruining your comfortable ride. Large ones can be dangerous, both to your safety and to the integrity of the vehicle you drive. Hit a pothole with a sharp pavement edge, at a high speed, and you might rupture a tire and make the vehicle uncontrollable. Even lesser speed hits can change the alignment settings or damage portions of the vehicle suspension.
A hard hit can bend a rim, or “bruise” a tire resulting in a bulge. If the car bottoms out with a hard hit, it might break a coil spring or shock absorber. At times even the exhaust system might strike the roadway. If damage occurs, the result could be excessively poor tire wear, or a lack of vehicle stability on slippery roads or a new noise when driving.
How will I know something is wrong? Just take a moment to look, listen and feel.
Look at the portion of the vehicle that hit the pothole. Notice anything unusual? Any marks on the tire or rim? Any tire bulges? Is the steering wheel properly centered when driving? At the next oil change, do the tires show excessive wear?
Listen to the sounds of the vehicle you drive. Anything sound different? Any clunk noises when turning or entering a driveway? Any rotational noise or noise that changes pitch as speed increases or when brakes are applied?
Feel any new vibrations? Is there a shaking to the steering wheel that was not there before the pothole? Do the brakes vibrate when braking?
Careful driving can help to avoid most potholes, but eventually one will be unavoidable. When that happens, an inspection by a qualified suspension and alignment technician can relieve any concern about damage, and make sure that you have a safe and comfortable ride.