This winter’s exceptionally cold temperatures and near record snowfall produced potholes galore. But you and your car probably already know that since these road blemishes are often hard to avoid. (Swerving to the side or into oncoming traffic isn’t exactly an option--and even when you slow down, going over a pothole can still make for a bumpy ride.)
The best way to deal with potholes is with prevention. Of course it’s a good idea to slow down, keep a close eye on the road and watch if the cars in front of you are trying to avoid potholes. Beyond that, also try to:
- Be extra cautious when it rains. Wet roads are slick—and potholes filled with water are harder to spot.
- Check your tire pressure. Properly inflated tires can weather potholes better than underinflated or overinflated tires.
- Avoid braking. If you can’t avoid a pothole, don’t use your brakes. It will likely cause more damage than simply rolling through the pothole.
If you notice an especially dangerous pothole on a busy road, make sure to notify the appropriate city or township.
How to file a pothole claim
Fortunately many—but not all—cities let you file a pothole claim if your car sustains substantial damage from a pothole on a state or city roadway. The process varies by state and city, but here are a few helpful tips that’ll help you make your case no matter where you live. (Check in with the state or city where your car sustained damage for specific instructions on how to file a pothole claim.)
- Keep a detailed record. Take note of the date and time of day the damage occurred as well as the exact location. Also make sure to include a detailed explanation of the damages your car endured.
- Take a photo of the pothole. A visual can help support your claim.
- Get the contact information of any witnesses. Eyewitnesses can help bolster your case.
- File a police report. Call the appropriate state or city police department and file a report. Make sure to get a copy of the report to submit with your claim.
- Get two or three repair estimates. Most places require you to submit estimates along with your claim.
- File your claim ASAP. Some places limit the number of days in which you can file a claim after an incident, so it’s best to submit one sooner rather than later.
Keep in mind there’s no guarantee your claim will be accepted and that payments for damages can have a cap. It’s still worth a try. (Who wants to pay extra when potholes damage your car? It’s certainly no way to welcome spring.) So check in with your state and/or city to find out if and what they cover when it comes to pothole claims.