Potholes are an inconvenience to drivers, especially in regions with cold, harsh winters. Potholes form when water seeps into cracks, expands, and erodes the pavement. Damaged pavement can force drivers to slow down, stop, or swerve across traffic lanes.
While road salt helps prevent accidents on icy roads, it also exacerbates pothole erosion and causes rust on vehicles over time. Learn how potholes and road salt can harm your car this winter—and what you can do to stay safe and prevent further damage.
Pothole Damage to Cars
Experts estimate potholes cause about $5 million in car damage each year. Potholes can slash tires, dent rims, and damage a vehicle’s suspension. Some drivers hit large potholes and the impact triggers their vehicle’s airbags, which can pose a significant risk of injury—especially for young children. Unfortunately, many municipalities don’t start pothole repairs until late spring, leaving drivers susceptible to a variety of damages, including:
- Cracked tire rims
- Bent tire rims
- Deflated/flat tires
- Low tire pressure
- Damaged shock absorbers
- Damaged suspension system
Other Signs Your Car Sustained Damage from a Pothole
If you’ve hit a pothole, pull over to a safe place and inspect your car. While a flat tire and bent rims are noticeable, other signs aren’t always as obvious. Take your vehicle in for a full inspection if you discover:
- Leaking fluid
- Vibrating or shaking steering wheel
- Abnormal engine or exhaust noises
- Unusual odors
Road Salt Damage to Cars
Potholes are not the only cause of wintertime car damage. Although road salt makes winter driving much safer, it can cause lasting damage to your vehicle. When road salt sprays onto cars, it begins to eat away at the exterior. Salt buildup often results in rust on the exhaust, muffler, frame and other parts, including:
- Wheel wells
- Any exposed components, such as fuel lines
How to Neutralize Road Salt on a Car
Washing your car regularly during the winter—and applying this neutralizing mix—helps remove road salt that causes corrosion and rust. Combine the following ingredients to create a vehicle-safe mixture that removes road salt and helps boost car rust prevention.
Create this mix to neutralize road salt on a car:
- 2 Tbsp baking soda, Dolopril limestone or granular gypsum
- ½ Cup automotive wash
- ½ Gallon of water
Ask your local mechanic or auto body shop to apply additional rust-resistant treatments to protect brake and fuel lines, as well as other exposed areas.
Potholes—and the road salt that causes them— can result in serious car damage, from bent rims and flat tires to widespread rust and more. To avoid costly damages this winter, monitor your car’s condition, visit the car wash, and reduce your speed on roads peppered with potholes. If you’re tackling your own pothole repairs, contact us today for more information.