(WTAJ) — There’s no worse feeling for a driver when they’re driving on a road with worn-out pavement and their car’s tire suddenly drops into a pothole. Some vehicles can survive these unfortunate bumps in the road, but many others receive significant damage and can even create a hole in drivers’ wallets.

Repairs to vehicles damaged from potholes cost American drivers $3 billion annually, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA) East Central.

“Not only do potholes pose a safety risk to motorists, they can really leave a dent in your wallet,” AAA East Central Vice President of Automotive Services Mike Hoshaw said. “It can cost more than $1,000 to fix problems like tire punctures and bent wheels, let alone uncompromising issues like suspension damage.”

Potholes form when moisture collects in small holes and cracks in the road surface causing them to expand when temperatures change. This combined with the weight of passing cars causes the pavement to break apart and form a hole.

While hitting a pothole can sometimes be unavoidable, AAA has some tips to help drivers be proactive and minimize any potential damage:

  • Inspect your tires: Properly inflated tires can act as a “cushion” when hitting a pothole.
  • Look ahead: Make a point of scanning the road ahead for potholes so you can react in time to avoid hitting a pothole.
  • Slow down: If a pothole cannot be avoided, reduce speed safely without abrupt braking.
  • Beware of puddles: Puddles often disguise deep potholes.
  • Recognize noises/vibrations: A hard pothole impact can dislodge wheel weights, damage the tire or wheel, and even break suspension components. Any unusual noises after a pothole hit should be inspected immediately.
  • Check for a spare: Many newer cars do not have spare tires. Check to see if your vehicle is equipped with a spare, and make sure to regularly check its PSI.

Pennsylvania drivers can also file a claim with the state Bureau of Finance and Risk Management (FRAM) if their vehicle was damaged by a pothole.

More information and where to find nearby repair facilities can be found on the AAA website.

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