No matter where you live, it’s likely you’ve encountered potholes of all shapes and sizes. They’re a problem for all road users, not just car drivers so it’s important to understand the kind of damage they can do to a vehicle and how to minimise it.

Potholes are caused by a number of different factors but you’re more likely to see them appear during the winter as one of the biggest causes of this kind of road damage is water getting into the cracks in the road, then expanding as it freezes. This is why you’ll encounter more potholes after a spate of wintry weather.

Potholes can cause all sorts of car damage from suspension to wheel alignment. If you’ve hit a sharp dip in the road, resulting in noticeable uneven driving, you should get your car checked out. Starting at £49, Fixter’s diagnostic inspection is a good place to begin.

Of course prevention is always best, when possible. Below you can find tips on how to avoid potholes.

Drive slowly

If you’re on a severely damaged piece of road, slow down. Hitting a pothole at speed can unsettle your car, which could cause you to lose control. You’re also more likely to damage your car at speed too, so take it easy if the road is in bad condition.

Avoid the edges

Most potholes form at the edges of roads so drive a little out into the middle of the road, where safe to do so. This can help you to avoid the majority of potholes but, remember, they can appear anywhere in the road so be aware.

Pay attention

Not all potholes will be obvious as you drive but if you’re travelling at a steady speed, you should be able to spot some of the larger ones.

Damage caused by potholes

You’ll probably know as soon as you hit a pothole too hard that you’ve done some damage. Here are some common problems that can be caused by hitting a pothole too hard.

Wheel alignment

Potholes are one of the main causes of a vehicle’s wheels being out of alignment. This can usually be recognised by your vehicle pulling in one direction. Thankfully, this is an easy fix at most garages.

Wheel balance

Wheels just don’t naturally have perfect balance. Imperfections in your tyres, as well as wearing of the tread can cause vibrations as you drive. This is rectified by adding small weights to the inside of your wheels and is usually done whenever you get new tyres.

Driving through a pothole can cause these little weights to be shaken out. You might not even notice this unless your wheels are particularly unbalanced. If you do notice, you’ll feel a vibration coming up through your tyres. A wheel rebalancing can take place during a wheel realignment.

Suspension issues

Repeatedly going through potholes can cause wear and tear damage on your suspension, greatly reducing its life expectancy. A large enough pothole could also fully damage part of your suspension. This will manifest as a lack of shock absorption over bumps, or an unstable bouncing feeling as you drive. If you hit a large pothole, pay attention to how your car is driving, if something feels wrong, you may have done some damage.

Bottoming out

If you hit a deep pothole, it can cause bodywork, wheel or undercarriage damage to your vehicle.

Potholes are rife on our roads so pay attention when you’re driving and if the road is in bad condition, slow your speed and stay alert to avoid any damage to your car.