If you've driven around in Queens, NY very much, it's no secret to you that we've got more than our share of potholes. You can try to keep a sharp eye out for them and dodge them or swerve around them as much as possible, but eventually you're going to drop a wheel into a moon-crater-size pothole that rattles your teeth. Here are some ideas on how to minimize the damage (and auto repair bills) that come from encounters with potholes.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Underinflated or overinflated tires are going to be much more prone to damage or blowouts from hitting a pothole. Properly inflated tires will also absorb more of the jolt, lessening the chance of damage to the rim or suspension parts.
- Slow down if you see one coming up and you can't avoid it. Easing your way through a pothole drastically reduces the risk of damage to a tire or rim.
- Watch cars in front of you. If you see other drivers swerve, there's a good chance they're trying to miss a pothole, and you should too.
- It seems counterintuitive, but if you have to drive through a pothole, ease off on the brakes right before you hit it. Braking will compress the front suspension, making it more prone to damage.
- Keep your windshield clean; you need a clear field of vision to spot road hazards.
- Leave plenty of space between your car and the driver in front of you. If he hits a pothole, you want to be able to see it before you hit it too.
- Beware of puddles. A big puddle in the road can hide a big pothole underneath!
- If you can't avoid a pothole, try to hit it straight on, at least. Hitting the sharp edge of a pothole with a wheel at an angle increases the risk of damage to a tire or rim.
Sooner or later, though, it's going to happen. If you've plowed through a pothole that was just unavoidable, be wary of the aftermath. Check your tire for any bulge or other sidewall damage, get a close look at the rim, and be aware of any change in steering, handling or ride that could indicate an alignment problem or suspension damage. A hard hit on a pothole can also be enough to knock a wheel out of balance, so be mindful of any vibration that wasn't there before Pothole Day.
If you're lucky, you'll hit the pothole and come away with nothing more than jangled nerves. If your luck doesn't hold out, you could end up with a blown tire, a bent rim, wheel alignment issues or damage to your steering linkage, shocks or struts or other suspension components, and an expensive auto repair bill. Be aware, drive defensively and you can avoid potholes...but if you can't, come on down to 106 St Tire & Wheel in Queens, NY for some pothole-related auto repair.