The cities across Utah are gearing up for severe street repairs now that the winter weather is finally beginning to loosen its icy grip. Road crews are scrambling to fill potholes as the ground thaws in certain areas before they get any deeper or more destructive.

Many states have strict laws about what happens if a driver causes an accident because of a pothole (or other avoidable road hazards), but here’s what we have to say about keeping yourself safe around those pesky holes.

Why Are There So Many Potholes?

So what makes these craters in the pavement? Potholes are created by water infiltrating asphalt pavement and its underlying soil via structural cracks and then freezing when the temperature drops, making the cracks bigger. When the ice melts, the hole remains, and the asphalt surrounding it will collapse, and a pothole will resultantly emerge.

Potholes can be hazardous to motorists because they often happen where drivers don’t expect them. For example, they may be concealed by shadows or obscured by snow and slush that has yet to melt in some regions of town. Avoiding potholes takes constant vigilance and a sharp eye on the road ahead so you can maneuver around them if necessary—and sometimes that’s easier said than done when you’re surrounded by other cars on all sides. So, what damage can you expect after a major incident with a pothole, and how can you avoid them?

Suspension Issues

Those potholes aren’t going to fix themselves. If you hit a large pothole, it can damage your vehicle’s shocks and struts, which can end up costing you hundreds of dollars in repairs. Worst case scenario, your daily commute isn’t as smooth as it once was. Worst case scenario, a wonky suspension could greaten the odds of an accident.

Consider getting your car’s suspension system inspected before heading out on the road this spring. We’ll let you know if any potential problems are lurking beneath the surface so that you can get them fixed before they turn into something worse.

Alignment Issues

At this time of year, smooth roads can be hard to come by. When you’re driving on an uneven surface—one riddled with small potholes—even at a reduced speed, potholes can pull your tires out of alignment.

When your tires are out of alignment, you may experience some of the following symptoms: 

  • an off-center steering wheel
  • the car pulling left or right on the road when you’re driving straight
  • squealing tires when you turn

In order to avoid these problems and others (including fuel inefficiency and increased tire wear), it’s essential to get your tires aligned as soon as possible after hitting a pothole. 

Wheel and Tire Tread Issues

It’s also essential to replace your tires if they have worn treads that are significantly less than 1/16th of an inch thick (you can check this by sticking a penny upside down into the tread). Although we think every driver must be able to spot an issue with their tires or tire misalignment visually, it’s always better to play it safe than sorry if you’re not sure.

Maybe you’ve just hit a large pothole and noticed an immediate difference in your car’s handling. On the other hand, perhaps you’ve taken a long trip down rough roads that have left your tires and brakes in poor condition. No matter the reason, stop by Master Muffler Clearfield and let one of our experienced technicians take a look. We know that drivers can’t avoid potholes in Utah, but we can help you keep your vehicle in tip-top shape and safer on the roads.