The hidden hazards: how potholes can damage your vehicle

By Laura Linham

15th Jan 2024 | News


From tyre troubles to suspension woes, the hazards presented by potholes are not to be underestimated.
From tyre troubles to suspension woes, the hazards presented by potholes are not to be underestimated.

Every motorist wants a smooth sailing drive, but lurking on multiple UK roads are the dreaded potholes, hidden craters that can actually cause substantial damage to your vehicle. 

From tyre troubles to suspension woes, the hazards presented by potholes are not to be underestimated.

Graham Conway, Managing Director at Select Car Leasing has provided six ways in which potholes can cause damage to your vehicle, and tips on how to avoid them.

1. Tyre damage

Potholes can cause various tyre-related issues, including punctures and blowouts. The impact of hitting a pothole can press the tire against the sharp edges of the hole, leading to structural damage. 

To prevent tyre damage, ensure your tyres are properly inflated according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Inspect your tyres regularly for any signs of bulges, cuts, or uneven wear.

Additionally, maintain a safe driving speed and be vigilant to spot potholes ahead.

2. Suspension system issues

The impact of hitting a pothole can take a toll on your car's suspension system. Components such as the shocks, struts, springs, control arms, and ball joints can suffer damage. 

This can result in poor handling, uneven tyre wear, and a poorer ride quality. To prevent suspension damage, slow down when approaching potholes to minimise the impact. 

Regularly inspect and maintain your suspension components, and if you notice any changes in handling or unusual noises, have your suspension system checked by a professional mechanic.

3. Wheel misalignment 

Hitting a pothole can knock your wheels out of alignment, causing them to no longer be parallel and perpendicular to the road surface. This can result in uneven tire wear, reduced fuel efficiency, and compromised vehicle stability. 

To prevent wheel misalignment, drive cautiously over potholes, slowing down and minimising sudden impacts. 

Regularly schedule wheel alignment checks, especially after hitting a significant pothole, to ensure your wheels are properly aligned.

4. Exhaust system damage 

Potholes can also inflict damage on your car's exhaust system. The impact can cause pipes, mufflers, or catalytic converters to become loose or develop cracks. This can lead to increased noise levels, decreased engine performance, and potential leaks of harmful exhaust gases. 

To prevent exhaust system damage, exercise caution when driving over potholes, avoiding sudden acceleration or deceleration. 

If you suspect damage to your exhaust system, such as changes in noise or performance, have it inspected by a qualified mechanic.

5. Undercarriage damage

Potholes can strike the vulnerable undercarriage components of your vehicle, such as the oil pan, transmission, or fuel tank, causing dents or cracks. This can result in fluid leaks, reduced performance, and costly repairs. 

To prevent undercarriage damage, drive at a safe speed. If you encounter a pothole, slow down and pass over it as smoothly as possible, minimising the impact on your vehicle's undercarriage.

Regularly inspect the undercarriage for any signs of damage and address them promptly to prevent further complications.

6. Window damage

When you drive over a pothole, the impact can send shockwaves through your vehicle. These shockwaves can cause stress on the glass, leading to impact cracks. If the force is significant enough, it can result in a cracked or shattered window.

Pothole impacts can also affect the mechanisms responsible for raising and lowering the car windows. The shock from hitting a pothole can cause strain or damage to the window regulators, making it difficult to operate the windows properly.

Ensure that your tyres are properly inflated and in good condition, as they can provide better shock absorption. Slow down and try to pass over it as smoothly as possible to reduce the impact on your vehicle.

Regularly inspect your windows for any signs of damage, and address any chips or cracks promptly to prevent further spreading and potential window failure.

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