How to avoid pothole damage to your car as UK’s roads are ravaged by freezing conditions
As freezing conditions hit the UK bringing chaos to our roads drivers are being hit in the pocket by the pothole menace.
The problem of ruptured roads is worse this time of year as water gets in to cracks and then freezes and expands.
Motorists can be left with bills of hundreds of pounds to damage to tyres, wheels and suspension components from hitting potholes.
Recent research by Halfords Autocentres reveals 53 per cent of motorists never check their cars after crashing into defects.
They have issued some tips for potholes and limiting the damage they can do:
– Stay alert – keep an eye out for potholes so that you can avoid them safely wherever possible.
– Reduce your speed – striking potholes at higher speeds can cause more damage to your vehicle.
– Avoid unnecessary braking – try not to apply your brakes when driving over a pothole. When you brake you tilt the vehicle forward placing more stress on the front suspension.
– Hold the steering wheel correctly – in extreme cases, potholes can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Make sure you are holding the steering wheel properly – ’10 to 2′ hands position to help you stay on the road safely.
– Check tyre pressure regularly – ensuring your tyres have the correct pressure can help minimise potential damage caused by potholes. Recommended tyre pressures can be found in your vehicle’s handbook.
– Safety first – if you wish to inspect any damage to your car, ensure that you stop in a safe place. Only attempt to recover parts which may have fallen off, such as a hubcap, if it is safe to do so.
– Get checked out – if you have hit a pothole and suspect your car has sustained damage, we recommend you get the vehicle checked out by your local Autocentre. Ask them to verify if there could be any other issues such as problems with tracking and wheel alignment, tyres or suspension.
Martin Barber, Halfords Autocentres potholes expert says: “In a new car a small pothole can damage wheels, tyres and suspension, but with a large amount of drivers keeping their cars for longer they are even more vulnerable. If you hit a pothole it is always worth getting it checked even if there are no immediate after-effects such as unexplained noises or wheel damage.”
What to do if your car is damaged by a pothole
If you damage your vehicle as a result of a rogue pothole, follow these steps:
- Collect evidence – Take photographs of the pothole (including close-up images and images of its location on the road), the size and depth of the pothole – you can use something like a ruler in the photograph to demonstrate this – and the damage to your vehicle.
- Assess the damage – You need to know how much it is going to cost to repair the damage caused to your vehicle. Obtain written quotes for this.
- Make a report – All councils allow you to report potholes via their websites. When you make a report, include all the supporting evidence you have collated and the quotes to repair the damage.
The council will review all the evidence you have provided and make an assessment as to their liability.
If you have submitted all the relevant evidence they are more likely to pay out.
However, section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 provides councils with a statutory defence if they can show that reasonable care was taken to secure the road and that it wasn’t dangerous to traffic.
In other words, if the local authority knew about the pothole but hasn’t repaired it, or hasn’t followed road maintenance guidelines, you may be able to claim compensation.
You can also claim on your insurance, but of course this may affect your premiums and any no claims bonus.