Spring Means More Potholes. Here’s How to Protect Yourself.

By Alex Perdikis

Spring is in the air. Plants begin to grow. Your lawn greens up. What’s not to love? Well, another sure sign of spring hated by drivers everywhere is the pothole. Your drive to work just got a lot more complicated. 

What can you do to protect yourself and your car from those spring driving delights?  Here’s how:

The Cause

You can blame winter weather and its temperatures for potholes. During the winter and into early spring, the ground freezes and thaws, which weakens the road. Water seeps into the under-pavement soil undermining the road’s foundation. Potholes form as the weakened road gives way under traffic.

“Severe winter weather or a constant freeze/thaw winter pattern promotes pothole formation. The freeze/thaw cycle varies from winter to winter.”—Alex Perdikis

That’s why some years you see more potholes than others.

Avoid Potholes If You Can

Road crews can’t possibly keep up with pothole repair in the busy season. If you live in an area where potholes exist, follow these tips to avoid hitting them:

  • Maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you. You’ll have a better view of potholes ahead and a clear indication if the car in front swerves or hits one.
  • Go around the pothole if you can safely do so.
  • If you can’t go around, slow down, grip the steering wheel firmly and drive over it. 
  • Never drive through a water-covered road. You have no idea how deep the water is or how many potholes hide underneath. 
  • Puddles can be a sign of potholes. Either swerve or take it easy over puddles in the road. 
  • Make sure your car is well maintained. Check your tires for the proper inflation and make sure your suspension is in good condition. Spring driving means a lot of ups and downs. You will hit potholes, and your car needs all the help it can get to withstand the assault.

The Damage Report

You probably won’t be able to avoid hitting a pothole or two. And, if you do, it may not be a soft, easy impact. If you’ve hit one, watch for these warning signs of car damage:

  1. The car pulls in one direction.
  2. Your car sways when you turn.
  3. The car bottoms out on paved streets.
  4. Your vehicle bounces excessively.
  5. You notice fluid leaks.
  6. You hear odd sounds from the exhaust.
  7. Your car simply drives differently after a pothole hit.

Hitting a pothole can damage your suspension, steering, alignment and tires. If you hit a pothole, have your car checked out as soon as possible. 

Does Insurance Cover Pothole Damage?

The answer to the question about insurance covering damage is a strong “maybe.” The only way to know for sure if your policy covers damage from a collision with a pothole is to read the policy or ask your agent. 

Potholes may not be the most welcome sign of spring, but they’re certainly one of the most common. With a little skill and a lot of luck, you might get through spring without pothole damage. Enjoy the spring flowers!


Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.