From early prevention to dealing with repairs, we’ve got you covered
As the ground thaws from the final winter snow (well… we hope) and temperatures occasionally rise to spring-like temperatures, potholes have been popping up throughout the area. Is there anything you can do to protect your car when you inevitably end up hitting one? Turns out the answer is yet.
AAA has shared some tips for dealing with potholes.
First, Prep Your Car for Pothole Season
Inspect your tires: Make sure tires are properly inflated and have enough tread. To check tread depth, AAA recommends inserting a quarter into the tread groove with George Washington’s head upside down. The tread should cover part of his head, but if it doesn’t, it’s time to buy some new tires.
Inspect your suspension: If you experience excessive vibration or feel changes in your vehicle’s handling, there’s a good chance that the shocks or struts are bad. Have the suspension inspected by a certified technician if you suspect problems.
Check your headlights and wipers: Potholes are harder to see at night, too, so make sure headlights are working and windshields are clear.
How to Avoid Potholes — If You Can
Look out ahead: Obviously, the best way to avoid problems from hitting potholes is to simply avoid them, but sometimes it’s not that easy. Drive cautiously and don’t tailgate so you have more time to spot and react to approaching potholes.
Be cautious of puddles: Really! Since water is a critical component in forming potholes, that puddle may be at work creating one as you drive through it — or it could mask one that’s lying in wait.
Can’t Avoid a Pothole? Now What?
Slow down: Some drivers like to slam on the brakes while others like to speed up to “jump” over the pothole. It’s recommended that your speed be somewhere in between. If you can’t avoid a pothole, slow down and release the brakes before you hit it. This helps to reduce the speed at impact, as well as give your suspension the full range of travel to absorb the impact.
Tighten your grip: If you can’t avoid a pothole, keep your steering wheel straight and keep a firm grip on your steering wheel. This might prevent your car from swerving into another lane if you hit a pothole.
Yikes! You Hit a Pothole — Here’s How to Check for Damage
Check tires and wheels: Is your car now pulling one way or the other? You may need to get your steering realigned. If your car is “bottoming out” or bouncing, that could mean your suspension is damaged. Get your vehicle checked out and repaired to avoid future road hazards.
How to Report Potholes That Need to Be Filled
- D.C.: Call 311 or complete this form.
- Montgomery County: Call 311 or complete this form.
- Prince George’s County: Call 311 or contact the Department of Public Works & Transportation.
- Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties: contact the Virginia Department of Transportation.
- Arlington County: Contact the Department of Environmental Services.
NBC Washington has launched a new effort to find potholes cropping up across our area to draw attention to them in an effort to get them fixed. Tweet a location to @4Potholefix.
Will a Jurisdiction Reimburse You for Pothole Damage to Your Car?
All jurisdictions told us that claims are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
In D.C., you file a claim with the City’s Office of Risk Management.
In Maryland you file a claim with the State Treasurer’s Office.
In Virginia you file a claim with your local VDOT office.
If your car suffers serious damage, you may still want to file an insurance claim in case you are denied any reimbursement.