Potholes: How they develop, how to avoid them and what the damage can cost
Published Tuesday, March 18, 2014 1:43PM EDT
It's that time of year again. Potholes are showing up across the city and causing damage to vehicles that can cost in the hundreds - and sometimes even thousands - to repair.
The Canadian Automobile Association says potholes form when rain, freezing rain and snow work into the soil underneath pavement. As the temperature drops, water freezes and expands, pushing the soil and pavement up.
When it starts to thaw, water flows out and the soil recedes, creating a hole under the pavement. A vehicle passing over the area then breaks the pavement, causing a pothole.
The weaker the pavement, the more likely potholes will develop.
Car parts that can be damaged by potholes include:
- Wheel rims / hubcaps
- Suspension components
- Shock absorbers
- Wheel alignment
Avoiding potholes is the best way to defend against them. Here are some tips from CAA and Jeremy Hanford of Hanford’s Tire and Service:
- Keep your speed down.
- Inspect your tires regularly for damage and get it fixed quickly.
- Be cautious when the roads are wet, as there may be a pothole under a puddle.
- Stay off seams at the edges and centre of the road, a key spot where potholes usually develop. Also watch the curbside of the road.
- Be extra careful at night when potholes are hard to see.
- Make sure headlights are clean.
- Be wary of a pavement edge that drops off - a collision could occur if you lose control. If your tires fall off the edge of the pavement, slow down and avoid braking. When slowed and in control, steer back onto the roadway.
- Watch out for cyclists swerving to avoid potholes.
- Beware of cars or trucks suddenly swerving into your lane to miss a pothole.
- Avoid potholes in a safe manner - don't swerve, watch for other motorists.
- Keep tires at proper inflation. An improperly inflated tire increases the chance it will burst when it hits a pothole.
- Have tires, wheels and suspension components of your car inspected if you frequently drive over pothole roads or if you suspect damage.
- If you must go over a pothole, go slowly and don't hit the brakes or you may compound the damage.
- At the end of the winter driving season, have your vehicle’s alignment inspected.
Cost to the City of London: John Parsons, the city’s manager of transportation and roadside operations, says the average cost to the city each winter season is about $550,000. He expects this winter’s costs to be about the same.
Costs to Motorists: Damage to vehicles from potholes can range from about $100 to $2,000. Tires and rims are the most common areas of damage. If a driver loses control due to a pothole, more damage can result.
What the experts say
John Parsons says the city is coming into the main season for a “bumper crop” potholes, with about 15 trucks out daily dealing only with potholes. He says “The last few days there’s been a lot of activity.”
Mike Smith of London Wheel Repair says this year has been a busy one and lately he’s seen a flurry of activity. “It was insane; it was astronomical. It’s one of the busiest springs I’ve seen.”
At Hanford Tire and Service, Jeremy Hanford agrees that this year has been busy, “It’s worse this year, due to the winter we’ve had.”
Hanford warns motorists that a lot of potholes are lurking under puddles, so beware. He says most of the damage he sees is on the right side of vehicles, due to potholes near curbs.
To report potholes, call the City of London at 519-661-4570 or visit their website.
We asked Londoners to share some of the potholes they've spotted in the city on the CTV London Facebook page.
You can check out some of the responses by looking in the comments below: