Pot Holes – how they damage tyres

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Pot hole

Pot holes, unfortunately they are a common problem with a majority of the roads we commute on each and every day, a problem that’s made worse by bad spells of weather and a problem that’s not always fixed as often or as quickly as we would like due to local councils being affected by spending cuts from the Government and simply not having enough cash to fix road damage as and when it happens.

Rise in defects

We have seen a steep rise over the last couple of years in the amount of vehicles that have been presented to us with defects or damage that has been either directly or indirectly caused by pot holes. Sometimes this damage can be very minor, maybe only a superficial scuff on a tyre side wall, but more often than not the damage can prove to be much more serious and even dangerous for the driver and his/hers occupants or other road users. And that’s not to mention the costly repair bill that usually comes with it all!

Side wall damage

Tyre wall bubble damage from pot holeThe most common problem after hitting a pot hole is usually sidewall damage, as the tyre goes in and then comes out of the damaged road surface, the sidewall of the tyre can pinch itself together, this in turn causes a separation of the internal structure of the tyre and will usually present itself as a bulge or egg shape in the sidewall. Usually, this will result in some vibration felt through the steering wheel or through the chassis of the vehicle when driving, but not always so it is very important to have a visual examination of the tyre carried out after any sort of impact or after driving through a pot hole.

If you hit a pot hole, examine your tyres

If left unattended, a bulge of this type could result in a sudden deflation of the tyre, usually when the vehicle is travelling at speed and the tyre is heated through use. This can obviously have disastrous consequences for those involved.

Potential wheel cracks can easily be missed on visual examination

Another common problem we see after impact with pot holes is that of wheel damage. With many vehicles on the road having low profile sidewalls or run flat tyres fitted where the sidewall is very heavily reinforced, the shock of the impact travels through the tyre and can cause a crack in the wheel itself. This may not always be visible after a visual examination of the tyre as sometimes the tyre can come away unscathed, but this crack will slowly release the pressure from tyre and then we get back to the problem of the tyre suffering a sudden deflation or even possible total wheel failure, again with potentially disastrous consequences.

The only way to be sure that the wheel has not suffered this type of damage is to have the wheel and tyre assembly removed by a specialist to be properly examined, with the options if damage is found to either replace the wheel, (most alloy wheels can cost from £200 upwards depending on size and manufacturer) or in some cases the wheel can be repaired by a specialist wheel repairer which is much cheaper but not always possible depending on the severity of the damage.

Suspension damage

The next items to suffer damage after pot hole collision is usually the vehicles suspension. All too often we see bent or damaged track rod ends, (which are the ball joints and metal bars that connect the cars steering to the wheels), broken coils springs (springs sit at each corner of the vehicle and carry the vehicles weight) and broken or bent suspension wish bones. Again, all of these problems often come with a costly repair bill!

Wheel alignment out

Even if after collision with a pothole you have managed to avoid all of the above scenarios, there is still the danger of the vehicles wheel alignment been knocked out. This isn’t something that can always be spotted just by looking at the vehicle, and it is not something that you would always notice when driving the vehicle (although common symptoms of the alignment being incorrect include the vehicle pulling to one side or the steering wheel not being straight when the vehicle is travelling in a straight line).

Misaligned tyres can wear out much quicker than they should, and can also have a detrimental effect on road handling and fuel economy so it’s always wise to have a specialist check the alignment after any form of impact, even if the vehicle feels ok to drive.

Tyre inspection tips for after a pot hole impact

After any form of tyre impact it is always best to firstly carry out a visual check on the tyre, (remember that any damage wont necessarily just be on the outside of the tyre – the inner sidewall could also be damaged), be very aware of how the vehicle drives after the impact, listen out for any noises that were not present before and see if the vehicle handles differently. Also, keep a close eye on the tyre pressure, any drop in pressure should be checked out as soon as possible.

If after checking all of these items something is found to be not quite right, it is always best to let a professional check the vehicle over.

Any TyreFinders branch will happily inspect your vehicle after hitting a pot hole/road damage. To properly inspect the vehicles tyres, suspension and wheel alignment after an impact doesn’t take long at all and will not cost much but could potentially save you a lot of money and even prevent an accident.

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