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Potholes and Car Damage

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Potholes and Car Damage

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
March 9, 2008

I was in a tire shop this week and talked to the owner about the extent of damage to tires and wheels, when a car goes through a deep pothole.

We are all driving on roads now that are full of potholes from our not-quite-over winter season. Why should you be paying even closer attention to the roads?

If you hit a wide, deep pothole, not only could you damage a tire, but you could also damage a wheel. And, if you think tires are expensive to replace, ask your tire store or the dealer about the cost of replacing a wheel!

A new tire might cost you $75-125, but replacing a wheel on your car might be $100-500. Add in the cost of a wheel alignment ($80.00+) and you’re starting to talk about some real money.

If you hit a really big pothole, stop and make a note as to where it is and what day and time you hit it. Then contact the agency responsible for the road and ask about its claim procedures. IDOT has a process in place for accepting claims.

If you think you have damage, get it checked out right away. Don’t wait 1-2-3 months or drive 1,000-2,000-5,000 miles and then file a claim. You’ll want to file your claim promptly.

This week I had taken a friend’s car to his tire shop for a set of four new tires. The shop found that two of the wheels on the car were damaged; the car is a 2006 vehicle with 37,000 miles on the odometer. Cost to replace each wheel? $500 from the dealer; $225 to use refurbished wheels that look exactly like the originals and present no safety issues. Still, that’s an extra $450 just for two wheels. Granted, these were wheels that were upgrades – not your stock wheels.

Better yet? Increase your following distance and slow down. Some potholes will catch you by surprise. Others, if you see them in time, can be avoided. Watch the traffic in front of you. When cars swerve to miss a pothole, right there is your warning.

And report potholes. It really does do some good. If it’s a State highway, call IDOT. A city street? Call the City’s streets department. County road? Could be the County or a Township. More than one call might be necessary. Get the name of the person you report the pothole to, and ask for an appropriate repair date.

Should roads departments mark the worst potholes with warning signs on the shoulder? Wouldn’t that be nice? Do they do it? Not around here.

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