It’s not a good feeling. That violent BUMP signals that you’ve hit a pothole you didn’t even see.
If you drive a big truck or SUV it might not be a big deal. In fact, those kinds of vehicles are built for bad road conditions.
But if you drive a Lamborghini, BMW, Porsche or Jaguar hitting a pothole could mean you’ve done some damage and it’s time to call your trusted mechanic or dealership.
Potholes can be harmful and even dangerous. They are in fact imperfections in the surface of the road that often happen when soil beneath the pavement becomes weakened or simply displaced. Potholes can result from water gathering in the underlying soil structure combined with cars passing over the affected area.
Potholes are most likely to form on roads in winter and spring, when ice and rain water disrupt the base layers of soil under the pavement. Then, as vehicles pass over these spots, the pavement cracks, and chips away, and then sinks, creating a hole in the road. A pothole may start out as tiny fissure but become bigger if not addressed in the early stages.
Here’s a list of some parts you can damage if you hit a pothole hard enough. If you think you’ve damaged any of these items it’s time to call a trusted pro.
Tire and Wear Tread
If you hit a pothole you can experience excessive wear to your tire or you might get a puncture or leak in the rubber. Take immediate action and get your car seen that same day if possible. Tires are the only part of your car that connects with the road so they are highly at risk for pothole damage. Potholes can present sharp and hard edges that will compress the tire against the wheel upon impact. They can also slice the rubber and snap the belts that hold the tires together. Get help immediately if your tire is damaged or you will risk even more damage.
If you hit a pothole the rims of your tires can become bent or dented. This can can cause a seal issue between the tire and the edge of the wheel that can further exacerbate air leaks and flat tires. When the potholes are deep and wide they can do double damage to the wheel, especially if the impact is strong. That can lead to a beak or the twist of the wheels. The hard sides of a pothole can force the wheel to bend in ways that were not intended leading to bends and cracks in the structure. Once bent, a wheel won’t roll correctly and may not be able to form an airtight seal with a tire. Cracks can range from hairline fractures along the wheel circumference to slices along one of the spokes. Such cracks and slices cannot be repaired so get to your mechanic quickly.
The force of hitting a pothole can shift to the suspension system and damage springs and shock absorbers. Suspension includes the system of the tires, tire air, springs, shock absorbers and linkages. It's everything that connects a vehicle to its wheels and allows relative motion between the two. Suspension systems are designed to absorb impacts and jolts and provide a smooth ride. However, there's a limit to how much a suspension system can handle. Sudden strikes against potholes can cause a variety of issues, from misalignment to damaged shocks or struts. If you are driving on bumpy roads or hitting potholes you will want to have your suspension system checked frequently.
The exhaust pipe is another common victim of potholes. These pipes run beneath the undercarriage of a car so deep potholes cause damage easily. You may even experience a loss of power or jarring noises if there’s a hole in your exhaust system. Deep potholes can cause your car to bottom out and scrape the undercarriage against the pavement, denting or ripping a hole in the exhaust pipes, muffler, or catalytic converter. So if you hit a deep pothole or even a deep dip in the road at an intersection, that can cause a leaking pipe that can let the exhaust fumes into the cabin. This is very dangerous. See an expert.
Potholes are a major road hazard. So, again, always keep an eye out and reduce your speed when you see one. And, as much as it is possible, try to avoid a direct strike to one so you don’t damage your car or get stuck in one.