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In Pittsburgh, and most of South Western Pennsylvania, it is inevitable that you will encounter potholes at some point in your daily commute. With the fluctuating weather, it’s that time of year where more and more potholes start popping up and safely navigating your way around them can be a challenge. These driving safety tips for navigating potholes will help make your ride to work a little smoother and could prevent major damages to your vehicle.

Most potholes are caused when fluctuating weather brings freezing and thawing of water under the pavement, weakening the road and causing large cracks. When you add the weight of vehicles driving over, these cracks eventually turn into potholes.  Severe winter weather and the long-lasting rains we’ve been having can also contribute to the number and severity of potholes.

If you’re city has been dealing with an increase in damaged roadways making your commute difficult and dangerous, here are a few tips to help.

Driving Safety Tips for Navigating Potholes

1. Check your Tire Pressure

Properly inflated tires hold up better against potholes than tires that have too much or too little air. When the weather begins to break, check your tires to ensure they are filled to the recommended pressure for your vehicle. In addition to causing structural damage to the tire itself, potholes may cause additional damage to your tires if they are over or under-inflated.

2. Slow and Steady

If you can’t avoid a pothole, try to slow down before hitting it. Don’t brake directly over the pothole, which can actually cause more damage to your car’s undercarriage. Some potholes can have as much impact on your car as a 35 mph car crash, not to mention you could cause rocks to fly, hitting other vehicles.

3. Firm Grip

When driving over a pothole or area of rough and broken road, hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control. Deep pits or areas of raised cracks can cause your wheels to turn sharply if you aren’t careful. Hitting these areas could lead to damage and problems with your vehicle’s alignment, suspension or steering as well.

4. Be Cautious

Use caution when driving over or through areas of pounded water because it might be a pothole in hiding. Any area with deep water should be avoided if possible.

Pennsylvania drivers are no strangers to potholes and rough roadways, so if you’ve hit your share of holes this winter, these are the signs of damage to look for to ensure your car gets the repairs it needs before these issues lead to further damage:

  • 1. Bulges or blisters on the tire sidewalls.
  • 2. Dents in the wheel rims.
    An example of a bent wheel rim caused by hitting a pothole.

    An example of a bent wheel rim caused by hitting a pothole.

  • 3. Undercarriage damage, including fluid leaks and wear that could lead to rust.
  • 4. Odd noises coming from the exhaust system which could be caused by dents or punctures.
  • 5. The car pulling in one direction or the other, instead of going straight, which could indicate an alignment problem.
  • 6. Uneven tire wear, which could indicate an alignment problem.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you may want to take your car to a repair facility to have it checked for damage by a professional. If you encounter a pothole, you should report it to your city, county or state transportation authorities. Be advised, this is a busy season for pothole repairs, so it may take some time before you see improvements. In some cases, your state, county or city may even reimburse you for some of the repair costs.

For more ways to protect your car and keep your daily commute running smoothly, just call us today at 724-929-2300. We can tailor the right policy to fit your needs so you’ll never pay for coverages you don’t need. Let us do the comparing for you to save you time and money on your auto insurance!