Texans: After The Snow, Fear The Pothole

Photo Credit: stoatphoto/Shutterstock.com

If you are in Texas, you got snow last week and likely a lot of it. From the southern tip of the state, to the Panhandle, the entire state was blanketed. We ran this article about a month ago, but after the snow and ice event, I felt it might be helpful to run it again. Trust me, there will be a massive amount of potholes all over the State of Texas. The city of Mesquite in North Texas is already asking for residents to report them in wake of the storm. You can report pothole issues outside of city/town or county jurisdictions on the Texas Departmentof Transportation website here.

Itís critical to know how to handle potholes because big or small, they can cause big headaches. Trying to avoid them can lead to crashes and potential injuries. According to the Michigan DOT, if you canít safely avoid a pothole (no swerving into an occupied lane), the best thing to do is to keep your wheel straight, slow down, then release the brakes before you hit the pothole to reduce the impact.

If you do hit one it can do a laundry list of damage to your carís components: its tires, wheels, steering and suspension as well as its alignment leading to a hefty repair bill. According to the American Automobile Association, the average repair cost of pothole-related repairs is $306, although sometimes repair costs can soar to over $1,000.

If youíve hit a pothole, itís a good idea to get your vehicle inspected by a professional to see if itís been damaged in any of the ways listed above. Itís especially critical to do if you notice these warning signs, as shared by the Car Care Council:

  • Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine a vehicle's ride and handling.

  • Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear, are symptoms of an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.

  • Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the wheel rim will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible, as tires are the critical connection between the vehicle and the road.

You donít want to be driving your vehicle in any of these situations as it can be unsafe and also cause even more damage.

Potholes form when moisture gets underneath the pavement where it shouldnít. They can form in both colder and warmer climates, but winter and spring are considered the prime pothole season due to freeze-thaw cycles. Groundwater that seeps through cracks in the road freezes as it expands, causing the pavement to buckle. When it melts, it can leave a gap in its place. In warmer climates, heat can create large cracks in the pavement, allowing water to seep through and soften the soil enough to cause trouble as well. In both cases, the weight of traffic over the compromised pavement exacerbates the problem.

If you come across a pothole, itís a great idea to report it to your city or municipality, so repairs can be made. The city of Houston has a pothole tracker in place.

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