Potholes 101 our top tips | CCM Blog

Potholes 101 – Our Top Tips

Why do we have potholes?

Potholes are the devils of the road and unfortunately for us living in the UK, they are very common. Our wet and cold weather is perfect for pothole procreation. Cracks appear in the road, rainwater settles in the cracks, and this freezes overnight and expands causing more cracks. Repeat this a few times over and you’ve got yourself your very own pothole!

Luckily for us living in the Surrey and Sussex area, we aren’t the worst in the UK (that crown falls on Glasgow and Manchester) but that doesn’t mean we don’t have our fair share. Local governments have suggested that it would take 14 years to completely catch up with the backlog of pothole repairs, even though they fill in around 2 million every year! From 2017 to 2018, there were more than 905,000 potholes reported on UK roads, which resulted in almost £3 million in damages.

What damage can potholes cause?

Go over a pothole at a low speed and you’re in for a bumpy ride, go over one at high speed and you could cause some serious damage to your wheels and suspension.
We often see cracked or buckled alloys coming in after an unwanted meeting with a pothole but in very serious cases we have seen broken suspension springs and wishbones, distorted wheels and damaged shock absorbers like the poor BMW below.

Pot Hole Damaged Wheel Cranleigh CCM

You can also expect to find lumps in your tyres, or displaced tracking and wheel balancing. Worst of all, hitting a pothole can come as a surprise and lead to the driver losing control of their car and having an accident.
The most common cars we see come in with pothole damage are the big luxury car brands such as Land Rover, Jaguar, BMW and Mercedes. This is due to their larger wheel size. Those giant 20” rims don’t leave much space for tyres meaning the thinner tyres aren’t able to absorb as much of the impact as they might do on a smaller tyre.

What to do when you are approaching potholes

• First of all, slow down! Hitting a pothole at a greater speed will cause so much more damage. If you have cars around you obviously don’t slam on the brakes, but do try to lower your speed safely. Try not to brake as you hit the pothole though as braking tilts the vehicle forward and will put more stress on the front suspension.
• Keep your distance from other road users – they may not have spotted the pothole before it’s too late and may lose control of their car
• Avoid if possible! If there is no other traffic around and you can gently swerve to avoid the pothole then do it. But only when it is safe to do so!
• If you’ve heard an almighty crunch after hitting a pothole, wait until it is safe to pull over to assess the damage and only ever recover broken parts if it is safe to do so. Remember, it is illegal to walk on a motorway so don’t step out into a heavy stream of traffic on the M25 to recover a lost hubcap – it’s not worth it!
• If you have damaged your car, bring it to your local CCM and we can put together a free no-obligation quote for all the repair work necessary.

Can I claim on my insurance for damage from potholes?

You are able to claim on your insurance excess for pothole damage but this is dependent on your insurer and your policy. The damage caused to a wheel or tyre as a result of a pothole will be covered under a comprehensive insurance policy but if you are unsure our advice is to always check! A new wheel and tyre on a Mercedes CLS, for example, can cost close to £1,000 so if your insurance excess is only £200, it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out which is the best deal. In a Which report from 2018, the AA advised that they saw 4,200 pothole-related claims in the first four months of the year. The AA believe that the costs of these claims would be £4,200,000! That’s over £1 million per month spent on pothole damage alone!

How to claim from the council for damage from potholes?

If your insurers aren’t willing to foot the bill, you can see if the council will help you out with the payments. This can be a tricky and lengthy process but it could save you a couple of hundred pounds.
The first step is to make sure you have enough evidence to prove that the damage wasn’t your fault and was in fact the council’s fault. After all, it is the council’s duty of care to ensure that our roads are safe to use and potholes do pose a risk to all road users. The council will only offer to payout if you can prove that they are at fault. For instance, if a giant boulder fell off the back of a lorry and caused a pothole, the council wouldn’t be responsible. However, if the council have been notified of this pothole and has been negligent in repairing it then you may have a reason for a claim.
Take as many photos as possible to make sure you have covered all bases. Find the precise location using the What 3 Words app which pinpoints your exact location to 3 metres. Show them the damage to your car, the bill from your garage, the pothole and the road layout surrounding it.
Potholes are only considered as such when they are deeper than 40mm (about the height of two 20p coins stacked on top of each other) anything less than 40mm is considered a highway defect. If you hit a pothole on a motorway, remember that it is illegal to walk on a motorway so if you need to take pictures, hopefully, there is a bridge nearby where you can get your pictures from.

How does CCM fix pothole repairs?

Buckled Wheels

Aluminium alloy wheels can buckle after smashing through a pothole, which can also lead to air leaking out so you may face a flat tyre too. Our leading European wheel straightening machine uses hydraulic assisted straightening rams and dial gauge accuracy with heat to provide an expert and physically correct repair.

Cracked Alloys

Although you may not notice a crack in your alloy, you might notice a slow puncture that keeps coming back no matter how many times you fill up your tyres. A cracked wheel is a fail item for MOTs too, so you may only find out once you come for your MOT test. Either way, we can help.
We know that a completely new wheel would be the best solution and we always advise customers to get a quote for this first, however, prices can start at around £400 which isn’t ideal for most people. Our alloy wheel welding offers a lower-priced alternative to get you back on the road as soon as possible.
Prices for crack repairs start at just £57.95 + VAT. You can learn more about our Alloy Wheel Repairs here.

If you want to learn more about potholes and their impact on UK drivers, click here to see another post we have done showing that pothole damage increased over lockdown.

Got pothole damage?

We can help! Get in touch today!

Leave a Reply