How Potholes Can Damage Your Tires and Suspension


Southern California is known for a lot of things, and one of those things is potholes. With constant traffic it is difficult for crews to make repairs, and as vehicles continue driving over the potholes, the pavement cracks and chips away further. Potholes are something that is not going away any time soon. In fact, the problem is so common that private companies like Dominos Pizza have volunteered to help fix potholes themselves as a marketing campaign.


Tips to Minimize Pothole Damage

Tire Pressure, Distance, Speed, Braking…

  • Keep your tires fully inflated. A tire with low pressure is at a higher risk of pothole damage.
  • Keep good distance between yourself and the next vehicle. Maintaining a few car lengths allows you to keep an eye on the pavement in front, which reduces the risk of hitting the pothole.
  • Maintain a conservative speed. The faster you hit a pothole, the more severe the impact. By practicing safe, conservative driving you will minimize the typical wear and tear from bad roads.
  • Do not slam on the brakes. Not only can this cause accidents, but braking typically compresses the car’s front suspension, and rather than gliding over, your action will force the tire down into the pothole making it more prone to damage.


Tire Damage

The tire is the only part of the car that meets the road surface and is the most vulnerable to potholes. The extent of the damage varies mainly on three primary factors: speed, braking, and impact.

You should regularly check your tire pressure and do not drive on a flat tire. If you have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), this will usually signal that there has been a loss of air. If the system triggers a warning light, fill the tire properly and see if the signal clears. If not, you will need to see a tire repair service because you may have a leak. If you do not have a TPMS system on your vehicle you may notice sagging in the tire or problems with handling. Check tire pressure, top off with air, and if the problem continues, again, seek service.

There can also be damage to rims. When this occurs you may need to replace the rim or get an alignment.


Possible Repair/ Replacements 

Tire puncture: a punctured tire can only be fixed if the puncture is found within the tire’s tread area. The sidewall puncture of a tire is not repairable and the tire will have to be replaced.

Bulging sidewall: address as soon as possible because you will be at a heightened risk of blow out.

Bent rim: The rim that supports and seals the tire to the wheel may get bent after driving over a pothole. Driving your car with an imperfect rim will lead to damage to the entire structure of the rim as well as the wheel.


Suspension Damage

The key elements of the suspension system are shock absorbers, struts, springs, and tires. The integrity of shocks and struts ensures the safety of your driving safety while its suspension system is responsible for steering stability.

The suspension is engineered to absorb and handle a standard level of friction that tires sustain during smooth driving. A harsh hit against potholes can potentially cause a range of suspension issues including misalignment, damaged shocks, struts, springs, and other suspension components. Most importantly, driving around with tire and rim damage can harm the integrity of the suspension which is why maintaining tires is so important to the overall health of the car.


Signs of Damages

  • If you observe the car pull towards one direction (left or right), you could have a misalignment. This is an easy repair and should not be overlooked because it will cause you more money in the long run to replace your tires that will wear out quicker if misaligned.
  • If you hear any strange noises coming from the wheel area then you may have other suspension issues and will need to get that looked at as well.
  • A misaligned suspension will evenly cause difficulty in handling and unless repaired will wear out the tire prematurely.

Possible Repair/Replacement

Misaligned suspension: Suspension bent out of alignment can be diagnosed and realigned accurately by a qualified mechanic.

Component damages:  broken ball joints, struts, or shocks need to be replaced completely.


At Quality Assured Collision Center we are experts and both mechanical and body repairs. We invite you to stop by our shop for a free estimate on mechanical repairs in the event that you think you make have hit a pothole too hard and sustained damage.