The Pitfalls of Potholes

Did you know that potholes are estimated to cause as many as 1 in 10 mechanical failures on UK roads and cost motorists an estimated £730 million every year?

Here are some tips to avoid them, minimise damage if you do hit one and what to do if your car is damaged by one:

A pothole is formed when water seeps down below the road surface and freezes, loosening the asphalt. When the water thaws and more rain falls on the weak spot – plus heavy traffic – the asphalt eventually cracks. Take particular care after spells of rain, followed by cold temperatures.

Driving in the dark at each end of the day means that potholes are harder to spot, use your headlights in bad weather and if the light is poor. Keep your windscreen and headlights clean so your vision of the road isn’t impaired.

Be wary of puddles which can mask large potholes at the side of the road.

If you see a big pothole, report it here:

  • Contact the local council to report potholes on local roads or the pavement
  • Keep a note of the location where the pothole was found
  • Contact Highways England if the pothole is on a motorway or an A road

If you are unable to outmanoeuvre a pothole safely, try and slow down before you hit it.

Don’t brake or swerve suddenly as that can cause more damage to your tyres and can be dangerous to other road users.

Keep both hands on the steering wheel.

Check tyre pressures (not too high or too low) and tread regularly and look for any signs of bumps, bulges or dents in the tyre wall, especially if you’ve recently hit a pothole.

Be aware of the other damage that they can cause to your vehicle’s tracking, wheel balance, axle and suspension problems.

If your car is damaged and you want to claim compensation – take notes and photos if possible and safe. If the pothole has already been reported by another road user, you should be able to make a claim from the agency that maintains that road.

It is a good idea to notify your insurer even if you decide not to make a claim from the government or on your insurance.