8 Signs of Pothole Damage

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8 Signs of Pothole Damage

pothole damage

Potholes can be both frustrating and worrying. At a glance, they pose little to no threat to both our safety and that of our vehicles. On impact, a small bump, slight veer, or even a temporary reduced steering grip is all you will feel. If you are lucky, these minor disturbances are all you may suffer. However, for those who aren’t as lucky, it is crucial that you fix pothole damage on your car immediately. Pothole damage can range from a crack on the wheel, a tire puncture, or even a bent rim. Worse damage may render your suspension faulty, or damage the shocks. If such damages are not checked and fixed in a timely manner, they may lead to full-blown issues in the future.

8 Signs of Pothole Damage

To help save you from these unfortunate scenarios, we have detailed warning signs that are indicators of pothole damage.

1. Tire Bulge and Bubbles

Upon impact with a pothole, the inner tire liner can become damaged, resulting in a bulge. A bulge is a result of the edge of your tire being pinched against the pothole edge. Air is then able to escape into this bulge creating a bubble-like bump on the tire.

This predisposes you to a full blowout if not promptly addressed. Additionally, it severely compromises both your safety and that of other drivers on the road.

In some rare cases, the thread may peel off from the tire. This is particularly common in sports cars that are fitted with thin, low-profile tires. Such cars have reduced impact absorption abilities making them more prone to pothole damage.

2. Bent Rims

With the majority of wheel rims being made of aluminum, hard pothole impacts can leave the rims bent. Don’t let bent rims pass as minor cosmetic issues. In fact, they might as well be viewed as a pointer to unseen pothole damages. Pronounced dents on either rim of your car tire could very well pose a risk to your safety.

3. Flat Tire

Low tire pressure or an outright flat tire is one of the issues that should never be overlooked. They are among the most common signs that your vehicle has suffered from pothole damage.

When fully deflated, the damage may be transmitted to the wheel the tire is mounted on. Should you encounter a deflated tire, it is recommended that you slow down to 20 miles per hour, pull to the side of the road, and seek immediate assistance.

4. Vehicle Suspension

Whereas tire damage and rim are visible signs, vehicle suspension damage is less obvious. Signs of suspension damage include:

Inability to Hold Car Steady

Bouncing or sliding movements when navigating corners, accelerating, or even sticking to the center of a lane may be indicators of a problem with your suspension. Lateral deflection, swaying or rolling may accompany strange bouncing movements.

Low Sitting Rear or Front

The coil springs or shock absorbers are the key components that absorb shock on impact. If your car sits lower on either the front or rear, then your vehicle suspension may be compromised.

Diving Front End When Braking

When properly applied, brakes should gradually slow down your vehicle before smoothly bringing it to a halt. However, should the front end take a bow when braking, it could be a sign that the front end suspension is faulty.

5. Shaking or Vibrating Steering Wheel

Steering wheels consist of a number of interlinked components that work together. Should your steering wheel shake or vibrate upon impact with a pothole, chances are there is a damaged component. Other issues could include misaligned wheels, steering feeling off-center, or pulling to one side of the road.

6. Fluid Leakage

In rare cases, potholes can cause dents to your oil pan and other low-lying fluid-filled parts. The dents may be deep enough to create routes for intermittent or continuous fluid leaks. Such issues need to be checked and repaired as soon as possible.

7. Strange Exhaust Noises

New strange noises are an indicator of pothole damage to your vehicle. On impact, parts of the exhaust system may break loose, bend or clog. Such a compromise to the system makes the exhaust produce strange sounds that can easily be picked out.

8. Wheel Alignment

When wheels hit a pothole, all or some of the wheels may become misaligned. Such misalignment makes it difficult for the vehicle to drive in a straight line. Instead of driving straight, your car will continuously pull in one direction.

Another issue that may bring about wheel misalignment can be uneven tire wear. Misaligned wheels not only have reduced life spans but also increase the risk of accidents.

Other common signs of wheel misalignment include dashboard warning signs, a squatting rear end when accelerating and the vehicle showing a “bottom out” on pumps.

How to Minimize Pothole Damage

While it might be hard to prevent pothole damage altogether, the damage they leave on your vehicle can be mitigated by observing the following tips;

  • Always make sure that your tires are properly inflated and in good condition.
  • Be cautious when driving on unfamiliar roads.
  • Avoid distractions when driving.
  • Drive slowly while firmly holding your steering when driving over potholes if you’re unable to avoid them altogether.


Regardless of the extent of pothole damage, an immediate remedy should be sought. In turn, this will help minimize the chances of the pothole damage turning into bigger issues. If not repaired, pothole damage can be costly in terms of both repair and even your life.

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