Richard Retting, director of Safety Research at Sam Schwartz Engineering DPC, the Fairfax, Virgina, transportation firm, estimates that the nationwide cost of pothole damage this year will be nearly $6.4 billion. So if you hit a really rough one, take your vehicle to a Ford Dealer Service Center where certified technicians can inspect it right away. Fast action can help save costly repairs down the road.
Here are six areas you’ll want to examine:
Tires and wheels
Check for low pressure as well as for cuts or gashes in the tire. Bent wheels are difficult to see without the use of a tire balance machine, so inspect rims for cracks in the finish, which may also indicate damage.
Wheel and tire balance
Potholes can affect the balance of a wheel, throwing it off-kilter and affecting its quality of handling (similar to a washing machine with an unbalanced load). If you notice any vibrating or shaking while driving, you may have a tire balance problem. This can cause stress on your car’s suspension, increase fuel consumption and add wear on tires.
If you have to hold the steering wheel at an angle in order for your vehicle to go straight, or if it consistently pulls to one side, then that’s a sign your alignment is off. This can affect the tread of your tires in terms of uneven or accelerated wear, as well as handling.
If your vehicle has sustained damage to its suspension, you will experience alignment issues. Suspension damage can also cause looseness or clunking in the steering and difficulty straightening out after a turn. Your vehicle may begin to sway or rock, bounce or bottom out, and it might require more effort when steering.
The exhaust system may be damaged if you hear it emitting loud or unfamiliar noises, indicating a possible leak. Because the muffler system also routes exhaust fumes away from the cabin and helps the engine run properly, this could turn into a big problem if not addressed promptly.
Oil or coolant leaks under the vehicle can also be telltale signs of pothole damage. Left unaddressed, these leaks can lead to engine damage.
So now you’ve struck the pothole. Here’s how to fight back:
Look for damage right away. And check your tires’ pressure, to ensure that they are inflated to the levels recommended by their manufacturer. Maintaining a properly inflated tire can be your first line of defense.
Visit your local Ford Dealer Service Center, where certified technicians will perform a Multi-Point Inspection using state-of-the-art equipment. An Alignment Check can help prevent damage to your tires while helping ensure safe handling in an emergency.
In the event that the damage proves severe, file an insurance claim. The damage may be covered under Collision and your deductible will apply. You may also be able to file a claim with the local municipality. Having photos of the damage never hurts.