San Mateo auto repair

What Should I Check After Hitting a Pothole?

What Should I Check After Hitting a Pothole? | Four Car Garage

Potholes are the bane of every driver's existence. You're cruising along, enjoying your ride, when suddenly – bam! Your car hits a pothole. Besides the immediate jolt, you might wonder what kind of damage it has caused to your vehicle. Knowing what to check after hitting a pothole is necessary to maintain your car's health. We have prepared a list of the essential checks you should perform post-pothole encounters.

  The Impact of Potholes

Potholes form due to the expansion and contraction of groundwater after it has entered the ground under the pavement. When water freezes, it expands, causing the pavement to crack and eventually form potholes. Driving over these gaps can have several adverse effects on your vehicle, from tire damage to alignment issues.

  1. Check Your Tires and Rims

The tires and rims are usually the first to take the brunt of a pothole hit. Sharp edges of potholes can cause punctures, sidewall bulges, or even bent rims.

Signs of Damage:

  • Visible Punctures or Bulges: Inspect your tires for any cuts, punctures, or bulges. A bulge in the tire sidewall indicates internal damage.
  • Bent or Cracked Rims: Look closely at the rims for any bends or cracks. Even a small bend can lead to air leakage and affect the tire's performance.

If you notice a puncture, you might be able to patch it if it's minor. However, bulges usually mean you need a new tire. 
Bent rims can sometimes be repaired by a professional, but cracked rims require replacement.

  2. Inspect the Suspension System

Your car's suspension system absorbs the shock of driving over uneven surfaces. A severe pothole impact can damage components like shock absorbers, struts, and springs.

Signs of Damage:

  • Strange Noises: Listen for unusual noises like clunking or squeaking when driving, especially over bumps.
  • Uneven Ride: If your car feels less stable or you notice it swaying or bouncing more than usual, there might be suspension damage.

Suspension issues typically require professional assessment and repair. Replacing worn or damaged parts will restore your car's ride quality.

  3. Check the Alignment

Hitting a pothole can knock your wheels out of alignment. Misalignment affects steering control and can cause uneven tire wear.

Signs of Damage:

  • Pulling to One Side: If your car pulls to one side when you're driving straight, it's a sign of misalignment.
  • Steering Wheel Off-Center: If your steering wheel is not centered when driving straight, the alignment is likely off.

Get a wheel alignment service at a professional repair shop. This will ensure your wheels are correctly aligned, improving driving safety and extending tire life.

  4. Examine the Undercarriage

The undercarriage can be damaged by a hard hit from a pothole, affecting vital components like the exhaust system or fuel lines.

Signs of Damage:

  • Visible Scratches or Dents: Check for any noticeable damage or hanging parts.
  • Fluid Leaks: Look under your car for any signs of fluid leaks which could indicate damage to the fuel lines or other systems.

Minor scrapes might not be a significant issue, but a professional technician should inspect and repair any dents or leaks.

  5. Test the Steering and Handling

A hit from a pothole can affect the steering and overall handling of your vehicle, making it unsafe to drive.

Signs of Damage:

  • Difficulty Steering: If your steering feels stiff or unresponsive, there could be damage to the steering components.
  • Vibrations or Shaking: Unusual vibrations or shaking while driving, especially at higher speeds, can indicate damage.

A professional should check for steering and handling issues. Repairs might include realigning the steering system or replacing damaged parts.

  Preventative Measures

To minimize the damage from future pothole encounters, consider these preventative measures:

  • Maintain Proper Tire Pressure: Keeping your tires properly inflated helps absorb the impact of potholes.
  • Slow Down: Reduce your speed when driving on roads known for potholes.
  • Avoid Puddles: Puddles can disguise potholes, making it hard to gauge their depth and size.

If you are worried about your car after hitting a pothole, don’t sweat it. Visit Four Car Garage for a thorough inspection and professional repair services to get peace of mind.

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