Learning Center

Avoid the Pitfalls of Potholes


Follow these driving tips to dodge damage.

Potholes – they seem to pop up when you least expect them, and they're tough to avoid. Hitting a pothole not only gives you a jolt behind the wheel, it can zap your wallet as well.

Rough roads add an average $335 to the annual cost of owning a car – in some big cities an additional $740 more – according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Potholes and poor road conditions accelerate vehicle deterioration, maintenance costs, fuel consumption and tire wear and tear.

How Potholes Form

Potholes begin when water seeps through cracks caused by the wear and tear of traffic. As temperatures dip, the water freezes and expands, forcing the pavement to rise. Continual traffic over these sections of road results in the depressions known as potholes.

Avoiding Potholes

As you hit the road, keep an eye out for these hazards and know what to do if one is unavoidable.

  • Keep your tires properly inflated. A tire could pop if the wheel rim pinches against the jagged edge of a pothole.
  • Beware of puddles – they could be deep, sharp-edged potholes filled with water.
  • Reduce your speed. Slower pothole hits generally result in less damage.
  • Brake lightly. Slamming on your brakes can cause greater tire damage and also compresses your vehicle's front-end suspension system.
  • Don't swerve. Your vehicle could hit the pothole on an odd angle, causing more damage to the tire, wheel rim and alignment.

What to Do When You Hit a Pothole

If you hit a pothole, survey the damage as soon as safely possible.

Make sure your tires are still inflated to reduce damage to wheel rims.

If your vehicle pulls to one side, there could be a problem with your alignment.

Many cities have a pothole-reporting process. If you see a pothole that needs repair, contact your local streets department.

For more information on protecting your car, contact your local American Family Insurance agent about coverage for your car, truck or other motorized vehicles.

These recommendations were developed using generally accepted safety standards.

When you are stranded...

Let American Family Emergency Road Service get you going again.

Hitch A Ride