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How to avoid the pothole plague

Potholes are not only a major nuisance on Irish roads, but can also cause costly damage to cars and compromise driving safety. As most drivers will know, especially in rural locations, potholes are no longer isolated problems, they can pop-up anywhere, so drivers need to be on the guard.
If your car hits a pothole, you run the risk of damage to tyres, wheels, wheel alignment, steering and suspension parts and the impact can often mean sensors that feed information to onboard safety systems go out of alignment meaning the system will not function correctly.
Here are some practical tips to avoid such damage:
• Ensure you have good forward visibility with a clean windscreen and clean fully functioning headlights.
• Make sure your tyres are correctly inflated. Under inflated tyres are more susceptible to damage and provide less protection for vehicle components, so do not ignore tyre pressure warning lights.
• Reduce you speed on roads prone to potholes. This not only reduces damage potential if you hit a hole, but also gives you a better chance to navigate around it.
• Increase the distance from the car in front. This gives you more time to see and react to all potential dangers, including potholes and reduces accident risk.
• Drive in the middle of your lane. Potholes are generally more likely to the side of a road surface.
• Be aware of water. What might look like a shallow puddle could be a deep pothole so slow down even more when the road is wet.
• If you see a pothole at the last minute and an impact is unavoidable, to minimise damage it is best to hit the pothole straight on, not at an angle and not to brake as you hit the pothole. Steer straight and keep a firm grip on the wheel. This also means you are better able to keep control of the car.
If you cannot avoid a pothole, it's important to brake and steer appropriately. Gradually slow down before reaching the pothole to reduce the impact. Avoid heavy braking while directly over the pothole, as this can cause further damage to your vehicle due to shifting weight. Instead, ease off the brakes just before impact, maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel and steer straight through the pothole to minimise the risk of losing control.
If your car does have a severe impact with a pothole, pull over when safe to do so and assess it for any kinds of damage. When you continue driving listen for any unusual noises and check for vibrations. Also be aware of any steering resistance or if the vehicle may be pulling to one side.
If you are in any doubt about possible damage after a pothole impact, bring it to your Stuarts Garages Service department for a safety check. We will be able to tell you if it is safe to drive and book you in for any remedial work that may need to be carried out.
In particular be aware that you made need your wheels laser aligned as misalignment can cause premature tyre wear and increase fuel consumption. Also your ADAS safety systems may require recalibration so that they can perform at their optimum level.