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As drivers pay for repairs, potholes cause major problems



Fargo, North Dakota – People in North Dakota who are already tired of dealing with snow and cold now have to deal with another problem: potholes. According to a new survey from AAA, the number of drivers who had to pay for vehicle damage caused by potholes increased by 57% from the previous year. In 2022, an estimated 44 million drivers in the United States had to pay for pothole repairs, which is up from 28 million in 2021.

On average, each repair cost $406. Additionally, drivers often have to pay for two pothole-related repairs per year. “Snow and cold are hard to ignore in North Dakota and so are potholes,” said Gene LaDoucer, regional director of public affairs for AAA. “Not being prepared for those craters in the road can result in pricey damage to your vehicle.”

When pavement is cracked and crumbling, it creates an ideal environment for potholes to develop. Moisture accumulates in these cracks and, as temperatures rise and fall, the moisture expands and contracts, which weakens the pavement. Over time, the weight of passing cars can cause the pavement to break apart and form potholes. Potholes can cause significant damage to a vehicle’s tires, alignment, suspension, and shocks.

So how can you avoid damage? Some tips include:

Check Your Tires, which includes tread depth, tire pressure, suspension and alignment

• Tread depth—insert a quarter into the tread groove with Washington’s head upside down. If you can see the top of Washington’s head, start shopping for new tires.
• Tire pressure—check this at least once a month using a quality gauge. Do so before driving when tires have been at rest and are not hot. Follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure found on a sticker inside the driver’s side door.
• Suspension and Alignment—look for changes in vehicle handling, excessive vibration, or uneven wearing of tires, all indications of a problem with the suspension like alignment or shocks. If your vehicle pulls to the left or right, have the wheel alignment checked by a trusted mechanic

Keep Your Eyes on the Road, an alert and cautious driver is less likely to hit a pothole

• Scan the road ahead for potholes and if it’s safe to do so, drive around any in your path.
• Increase your following distance so you can see potholes as they appear from under vehicles ahead of you.
• Standing water or puddles may disguise a deep pothole. Avoid driving through standing water when possible but if you can’t, drive through slowly and treat them as though there may be potholes hiding beneath the water.
• There may be times when you cannot avoid hitting a pothole. In that case, safely reduce your speed as much as possible and avoid braking abruptly, particularly as you go over the pothole as this compresses your suspension and adds extra force to the tire. Striking a pothole at higher speeds increases the chance of severe damage including knocking the wheels out of alignment, affecting the steering, and bending or even breaking suspension components.
• If you hit a pothole, pay attention to any new or unusual noises or vibrations. If you detect something is off with your vehicle, take it to a trusted repair facility for a full vehicle inspection as soon as possible.

A total of 1.9 million tire-related roadside assistance calls were handled by AAA nationwide in the winter and spring of 2022. Although AAA does not specify whether a request for roadside assistance is due to pothole damage, this number represented 12% of all calls received in the winter and spring of the previous year.