Kansas City, this winter put us through the wringer. Not because it was cold, because it wasn’t. In January, for example, the average low was 24°, while the average high was 40°. That means the asphalt froze and thawed every day— the perfect road conditions for potholes. Here’s how you can avoid pothole damage during your winter commutes.

Potholes form when melted snow or ice seeps under the pavement, then refreezes at night, expanding. When it melts again, it creates a void under the pavement, and the first F-150 to roll over it turns it into a gravel and tar purée. Then it’s just a matter of other vehicles and snow plows sweeping away the gravel, and the pothole is ready to serve. 

And potholes are nothing to mess with. If you’ve spent more than a winter or two in a pothole zone, you’ve probably had to shell out for a new tire in the middle of the winter. That’s not the worst of it, though. It’s not uncommon to see a broken or bent rim, warn or mangled suspension elements, and even body damage. 

So how can you keep your car safe? How can you stay on the road and not have to call for mobile tire replacement?

Leave Room and Dodge

We say this with caution, because dodging around things on icy roads like they’re adorable puppies can be very dangerous. But if you have good traction and there are no other cars nearby, the best thing to do with a pothole is avoid it entirely. This is why it’s important to leave plenty of space between your car and the one in front of you. You’ll get a better view of the little tire munchers. Yes, you’ll get to the office .3 seconds later, but your tires are worth it.

Invest in Winter Tires

The more grip you have in the snow and ice, the easier it will be to dodge those wheel-benders. Winter tires stay softer at colder temperatures, so they grip better in the winter. For snowy areas, snow tires take this a step further with grippier tread patterns.

Slow Down if Possible

If you’re coming up to a particularly large pothole, you can’t drive around it, and no one is close behind you, hitting the pothole more slowly can help prevent tire damage. However, don’t slam on the brakes. Avoiding pothole damage on your tires isn’t worth losing control or getting rear-ended.

Shoot the Middle

If the pothole is unavoidable, try to aim your tire for the center of it. Scraping the sides of your wheels and tires along the sides of the pothole can lead to flat tires and more serious/permanent damage. Tire sidewalls are particularly vulnerable, since they’re thinner than the treaded surface.

Eyes Up

Winter is the perfect time to stop texting while driving. Not only are the other cars sliding around like hockey pucks, the road is full of tire-popping pits of doom. The road deserves every moment of your attention, from the moment you back out of the driveway until you park. Don’t clean up your coffee, don’t put on your nail polish, and don’t text. Just keep an eye out for potholes and imagine how much you’re saving on tire repair.

Keep Your Tires Fresh

Tires have a shelf life. As the rubber ages, it dries out and becomes more vulnerable to the impacts potholes can cause. Check out our article on how to identify the age of your tires. If they’re more than 5-6 years old, it’s time for a fresh set. 

This winter, keep an eye out for potholes. They’ll munch your tires, and your car budget, like cookies. And if you do need tire repair or replacement, count on Zohr. We’ll come to you, and we promise to dodge the potholes on the way.

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