NATIONAL (WEHT) – AAA says while potholes are typically a sign of spring, this winter’s frequent temperature swings have taken an early toll on the nation’s roadways – and drivers are paying a steep price.

“Potholes can certainly pose a safety risk to motorists, but they can also result in unexpected and costly repair bills,” says Mike Hoshaw, vice president of automotive services, AAA East Central. “It can cost anywhere from $250 to as much as $1,000 to fix problems like tire punctures and bent wheels along with more expensive issues like suspension damage.”

Officials say a recent survey from AAA found that in 2021, one in ten drivers sustained vehicle damage significant enough to warrant a repair after hitting a pothole, with an average price tag of almost $600 per repair. Officials say in all, damage caused by potholes cost drivers a staggering $26.5 billion in 2021 alone.

To minimize vehicle damage from potholes, AAA East Central offers the following tips:

  • Inspect tires
    • Properly inflated tires can act as a “cushion” when hitting a pothole.
  • Look ahead
    • Make a point of scanning the road ahead for potholes so there is enough time to react and to avoid hitting a pothole. 
  • Slow down
    • If a pothole cannot be avoided, reduce speed safely without abrupt braking. 
  • Beware of puddles
    • Puddles often disguise deep potholes. 
  • Recognize noises/vibrations 
    • A hard pothole impact can dislodge wheel weights, damage the tire or wheel and even break suspension components. Any unusual noises after a pothole hit should be inspected immediately.
  • Check for a spare 
    • Many newer cars do not have spare tires. Check to see if the vehicle is equipped with a spare, and make sure to regularly check its tire pressure.