Potholes have popped up across California after heavy rainfall hit the region this month.
According to the Auto Club of Southern California, water and traffic are the two main reasons why potholes form.
“Together they wreak havoc on pavement that has already been compromised by factors like age, overuse, inadequate maintenance and exposure to the weather elements, AAA officials explained.
Then, when vehicles drive over the already weakened area, the surface layer crumbles into the gap underneath and a pothole forms.
The result? Flat tires, bent wheels and damaged suspension. Tires are often cut, torn or punctured so badly that a new tire is required.
Wheel assembly rebalancing and expensive suspension-related damage is also common.
In fact, a recent AAA study found that in 2021, one in 10 drivers sustained damage significant enough to warrant a repair after hitting a pothole.
With an average price tag of almost $600 per repair, damage caused by potholes cost American drivers $26.5 billion in 2021 alone, according to AAA.
Manny Gutierrez, who lives in Los Angeles, just got a flat tire thanks to a pothole last week. It caused other damages, too, and he thinks it might cost him thousands of dollars.
“Insurance doesn’t even cover a lot of it,” Gutierrez said.
While collision insurance usually covers pothole damage after you pay the deductible, but it may not be worth putting in the claim. The damage your vehicle sustains could fall below the amount of your deductible.
So, can you get reimbursed for damages on your vehicle due to potholes?
If you hit a pothole and suffer injuries or damages to your vehicle, find out who owns the stretch of roadway and what part of the government collects the claims.
Caltrans can reimburse damages caused on freeways and state highways. The agency will pay up to $10,000 in repairs. Information can be found here.
AAA also offered the following tips on how to prevent pothole damage:
- Keep your tires well maintained
- Avoid distractions
- Scan the road ahead for potholes and if it’s safe to do so, drive around any in your path.
- Standing water or puddles may disguise a deep pothole. Avoid driving through standing water when possible, but if you can’t, drive through slowly
- If you can’t avoid hitting a pothole, slow down as much as possible and avoid braking abruptly
- If you hit a pothole, pay attention to any new or unusual noises in your car. If you realize something is off, take it to a trusted mechanic for a full inspection as soon as possible