Are you a rough driver?
If your answer is Yes, then this article is for you. If it’s No, well… it still is for you
Bad roads and potholes are a nuisance but most times unavoidable. They are common sights on most roads and lots of drivers have had nerve-racking experiences. Sometimes they are unnoticed or unavoidable.
Rough driving or bad driving habits on the other hand is a whole different ball game.
Especially on bad roads filled with potholes, your vehicle will take the heat for your driving habits.
Potholes and bad roads cannot be avoided since they are caused by rain, freezing temperature, and the weight from all the traffic, leading to the breakdown of paved roads.
Running bad roads can cause damage to the tires, undercarriage, body, etc. But your driving habits in these conditions could rank up your repair bill from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
In worst-case scenarios it can also lead to fatal crashes by head-on collisions, causing bodily harm to you and other road users. A collision may occur while a driver swerves to avoid a pothole because you were not focused on the road or your driving was rough.
When it comes to bad roads and potholes – there is no good story.
But to minimize their impact, you need to improve your driving habits first…
Let us delve deeper into some of the damages that can be caused by driving roughly on bad roads with lots of potholes:
How Does This Affect My Vehicle
1. Tire & Wheel Damage
When your tires hit a pothole, there can be pierced by the sharp edges of the pothole. This can cause sidewall bulges, tread separation, a flat tire due to loss of air, or a blowout. A blowout can cause loss of control which could lead to a fatal accident.
Running a pothole could force the wheels of your vehicle to suddenly move in a direction not intended. You may experience a rough ride due to the cracks, chips, or bend in the wheel – leading to more damage with faster wear and tear of your vehicle.
2. Suspension Damage
Although your car’s suspension was built as a shock absorber from uneven roads, potholes are pretty much too extreme for them. Hitting a pothole suddenly can cause damage to your shocks and struts, brake ball joints, and cause a misalignment of your wheels.
It can be quite difficult to diagnose which component of your suspension is damaged. If you notice unusual vibrations or sounds, a rough ride, or your vehicle tends to lean to one side – you need to have your vehicle visit a repair shop.
3. Exhaust Damage
Your undercarriage is one of the parts that can be severely damaged when you run a pothole because it is closer to the ground. The undercarriage holds your exhaust system and is very vulnerable to pothole damage.
Your exhaust pipelines, muffler, or catalytic converter could be damaged from the impact which could lead to pollution issues or engine issues.
If your vehicle makes unpleasant noises or you ever experience a loss of power, you should have your vehicle checked by your mechanic. Hitting a pothole may cause a dent in your oil pan and other low-lying fluid-filled parts leading to oil leaks.
4. Chassis Damage
Running on bad roads or hitting a pothole can be detrimental to the chassis of your vehicle. Especially for low vehicles, the chassis hitting against the pothole causes it to misalign.
Also, low-hanging bumpers or parts of your vehicle could scrape against the pothole and can destroy the bumper, or cause your vehicle frame to warp.
If you are a lover of sporty or low-height vehicles, it would be wise to think of what you will be sacrificing when running on bad roads.
5. Engine Block Damage
Whenever you run a pothole or run through a bad road, parts of your engine shift or break. These components are not seen or may not be noticed, and if not fixed may lead to an accident.
Hitting a pothole can lead to engine block damage, which contains the cylinders, and other major components under your vehicle. This could lead to a drop in vehicle performance, oil leaks, or excess smoke from your exhaust.
6. Sensors Damage
Hitting potholes with water can affect and damage some sensors in your vehicle. If you experience loss of acceleration, fuel mileage, or noises from your engine, chances are, your sensors may be damaged. You will need to have a mechanic to confirm the exact sensor that is faulty.
7. Tire Rim Damage
If you hit a pothole, especially if you are not driving carefully, there is a chance that you may damage your tire rims. Especially as most rims are made of aluminum hitting a pothole will bend the rims and can pose a risk to your driving safety.
8. Steering Rack Damage
If you notice that your steering feels loose, shakes, or makes unpleasant noises, there is a high chance of steering rack damage. This can be caused by hitting potholes or rough driving on bad roads. Steering rack damage could also lead to power oil leaks from the O-rings and boots.
9. Radiator damage
Hitting a pothole could cause damage to the radiator causing tiny holes or cracks leading to coolant fluid leaks.
10. Brake Pad
Running potholes could cause your brake pads to wear out and you can risk damaging the brake rotors. You may experience a noisy brake which is much slower with lots of vibration. Your brake warning lights will pop up if there is an issue with your brake pads.
Although potholes cannot be avoided – even if you try, you can lessen the impact on your vehicle. If you cannot avoid a pothole it is best to slow down and navigate your way through to lessen the impact. Meaning you have to develop good driving habits, especially when plying bad roads or roads with lots of potholes.
How Can I Minimise The Damage?
- Inspect Your Tires: Make sure your tires are properly inflated according to your vehicle’s manufacturer’s standards. This acts as a buffer between the pothole and your vehicle and it can withstand the impact of the pothole.
- Inspect Your Suspension: Make sure to have your suspension services in top-notch condition at all times. Your suspension helps your vehicle absorb shocks while driving, giving you a smoother ride. Replace components when they wear out and have them serviced regularly.
- Take It Easy: If you are driving in a dark or unknown location, it is best to maintain a slower speed. Make sure to have a clear vision of the road, stay alert, and avoid puddles. Make use of your headlights to give you adequate lighting on the road.
Improving your driving habit cannot be overemphasized as this is the most important step to being safer on the road.
When hitting a pothole, release the brakes and allow your tires to roll through – this can help reduce damage.
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How Does This Affect Auto Auctions and Buying A Car?
If you have ever browsed through a used car auction listing you may have seen the “DAMAGE” report for the vehicle. This report is a summary of all the issues found in a vehicle after an assessment.
It contains information on the damage history, accident history, repair history, title, etc. Damages caused by potholes like undercarriage damage are also recorded in the Vehicle damage report.
To check the damage history report of the vehicle you want to purchase, run a VIN check to access this information.
A used car auction has no guarantees on the condition of the vehicles you will be purchasing but they help you understand the vehicle’s history. You can request a physical inspection for a higher fee for a more detailed breakdown of the vehicle’s condition.
After your purchase, it is recommended to have the vehicle checked and serviced by a professional mechanic.
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