This post is part of a paid partnership with Cooper Tires, which provided information for this story. Learn more about protecting your tires and your car by following the hashtag #TakeOnPotholes on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
There’s a somewhat funny joke here in Minnesota that there is winter and pothole season. We spend half there year trying to survive the cold, snowy weather and the other half of the year trying to survive what those frigid temperatures did to the roads. I remember when I first started driving I had no clue how devastating potholes could be to my vehicle or my wallet. I didn’t really give it much thought. Until one day, when I was driving on 494 East heading back from the Mall of America and I hit a series of potholes by the Highway 5 exit. It shook my car and me to the core. I actually had to pull off the road to see what had happened because my car just did not feel right.
Guess what? Those potholes did a number on my tires. I was young, about 20 and not very car savvy but I knew enough to know that my tires just didn’t look right. A few of them had these bulges on the side of the tire. It seemed like I could still drive my car so I headed to my nearest place I knew of, my grandmother’s home to see what my grandfather thought I should do.
When I arrived, Grandpa came out to see exactly what I had done. He just shook his head and said I should not even be driving this car and that I was lucky to have made it over to his house without blowing out a tire. Those bulges meant my tires were damaged, severely damaged. Since there were multiple tires with bulges my grandfather told me we should have the car towed for safety reasons. So that is what I did. I towed my car to our local repair shop.
Upon arrival at the repair shop, the mechanic told me there was more damage. Not only would I need new tires, but I also needed 2 new rims, a tire rod and another very expensive part that I cannot remember. I remember just being in shock. I never even knew a pothole could cause that much damage. He was telling me there was over $3,500 worth of repairs that needed to be made if not more once he ordered parts and could take off the damaged parts and see if anything else needed to be repaired.
A $3,500 repair was devastating to me. I think it would be devastating to most drivers. I ended up putting an insurance claim in due to the extensive damage caused by the potholes. I never even knew that was a possibility until the mechanic suggested I do it when the repairs starting tipping $2,000. Thank goodness for insurance! I had to pay my deductible and was out of a car for about a week but then all was well. The mechanic replaced my tires, rims and everything else those pesky potholes destroyed.
I never would’ve thought a pothole could cause so much damage in a matter of a few seconds. It was an eye-opener. After this very expensive lesson, I learned a few things about potholes that all drivers should know.
1 – Avoid them. If at all possible you should try to avoid potholes. I know that can be easier said than done. But keep your eyes on the road, constantly scanning ahead for them, especially in areas that are known for them. Be aware of what vehicles in front of you are doing, If they are swerving or switching lanes it could be because they are trying to avoid a pothole.
2 – Slow down. If it is not possible to avoid a pothole then try to slow down. If you can slow down, release your break and gently roll through a pothole it is less likely to cause extensive damage. I hit those potholes going about 55+mph and I’m lucky it was not worse.
3 – Take care of your tires. This should be done year round. Remember to rotate your tires on a consistent schedule, check your tread for wear and replace your tires when it’s below 2/32 and always make sure your tires are properly inflated. I personally have this checked every time I have my oil changed and rotate my tires every other oil change. Now I have an SUV that is so smart it tells me what my tire pressure is and has warning lights but I do check it about once a week to see if any of my tires need a little touch of air, this is especially important when we go through dramatic weather changes from fall to winter or winter to spring. Those dramatic weather changes will cause the pressure in your tires to change dramatically and you will need to add air in the fall and possibly release air in the spring.
Having pothole damage is a lot more common than you think. My friends over at A Girls Guide to Cars is sharing her story about what it was like driving in Michigan after a harsh winter, that also happened to be her first spring in Michigan.
Tire care is so very important when it comes to maintaining your vehicle. Ladies, we are transporting our families around in our vehicles. Our precious children. We need to do our best to make sure our vehicle is in the best shape and safe at all times. The biggest thing I see when I’m out and about with Peyton is people have bald tires. Or I hear all the time, I need to get new tires before winter because mine are bald. Or, I was so shocked to find out I needed tires. We, as parents, need to do a better job at being aware of our tire health.
Our friends over at Cooper Tires suggest we go a little further and check out our overall tire health on a regular basis.
“While it can be easy to overlook tires, it’s important to remember that your tires are the only 4 things
connecting your car to the road. At Cooper®, we encourage everyone to take 10 minutes to check your
tires before heading out on the road. It’s as easy as 1,2,3—check the pressure, tread depth and the
overall condition of the tire.”
Jessica Egerton, Director of Brand Development Cooper Tires
That’s pretty simple, right? Just take a quick look over your vehicle before starting out. It’s easy to glance at the tires as you are putting the kids into the backseat. A great way to check the tread depth is with a penny. Take a US Penny and with Lincoln’s head facing down stick it in the tread. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by tread, there is at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread. If the top of his head is visible at any point around the tire, it is time to replace the tire. This can be something you take turns letting the kids do once a week.