Potholes and Prestige Cars
28th January 2022
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Potholes are a big problem for UK motorists. Hitting one is not only uncomfortable, but can seriously damage your car, and if you are fortunate enough to be driving a prestige vehicle, the damage caused by potholes can be very expensive to fix.
We look at the causes of potholes, how they can damage your vehicle, and where in the country has the most potholes.
What is a pothole?
Almost all drivers or pedestrians will have encountered a pothole at some point in their journeys. They are ‘a depression or hollow in a road surface caused by wear or subsidence’, so simply put, a hole in the top surface of a road.
Depending on the road surface and condition of the road, a pothole can be as small as just an inch wide or deep or can span almost a foot and be a few inches deep.
Potholes are usually formed in roads due to general wear and tear and will be affected by the traffic flow and types of vehicles driving on said roads. When vehicles repeatedly drive over a surface, the friction between the tires and the road heats up the surface and it expands. When this happens cracks form.
When cracks form on a road surface and it rains, the water seeps into the cracks. Overnight, when temperatures plummet (especially in winter) this water freezes and expands, gradually widening the cracks and weakening the surfacing materials. When this happens repeatedly, potholes are formed.
What kind of damage can a pothole cause?
Research shows that approximately one in 4 UK motorists have damaged their cars by hitting or running over a pothole. This damage can affect a number of systems and components vital to the safe and efficient running of a car.
Tyres and wheel damage
Tyres and wheels are some of the most suspectable areas to pothole damage. With issues ranging from tread separation, bulges, punctures, and scratched or damaged alloys. Low riding, prestige vehicles are particularly prone to damage from potholes as their wheel and tyre profile tends to be lower, and the alloy wheels are more pronounced.
As many of us know all too well, the sudden jolt of hitting a pothole can be uncomfortable for the driver and passengers of a vehicle, but it’s particularly harmful to your car’s suspension. Hitting a pothole can cause your suspension to become misaligned or bent out of shape and can only be repaired by a mechanic.
Again, if you own a prestige vehicle this can be a potentially very expensive issue to fix, especially if your vehicle is a classic or needs to be repaired by a specialist mechanic.
Body and exhaust damage
Low riding, prestige vehicles may also face the problem of bodywork scrapes if potholes hit low hanging bumpers or side skirts, and a deep pothole could cause an impact on your exhaust pipe or undercarriage, causing serious damage.
Where in the country has the most potholes?
According to reports logged on Fill That Hole, a dedicated pothole reporting site, the worst area in our country over the past 12 months was Cumbria, with 448 complaints.
Top 10 pothole hotspots in the UK are
- Cumbria – 448
- Hampshire – 406
- Surrey – 399
- Devon – 384
- Gloucestershire – 281
- Shropshire – 257
- County Durham – 252
- Cheshire – 245
- West Yorkshire – 219
- West Midlands – 207
This is based on the number of complaints over the past 12 months.
And if you thought that damage from vehicles on our roads would have lessened during the pandemic, you would be wrong. In fact, the RAC has recently announced that vehicle breakdowns caused by potholes hit a 3-year high in 2021, with the recovery service receiving 10,123 callouts last year, up 10% on 2019.
Which local authority has the best reputation for fixing potholes?
As we’ve just seen, potholes are a nationwide problem with few areas of the country remaining unscathed, but which local authorities are best at fixing them?
Again, Fill That Hole, has the answer. According to their database of over 200 local authorities, the London borough Islington ranks best with 1202 reported potholes with 100% of them being fixed. Further down the scale, at rank 208 is Dumfries and Galloway, with 1390 potholes reported, with just 6% reported to have been fixed.
The full report can be viewed here.
How to avoid potholes
While it’s not always possible, here are some of our top tips for avoiding potholes:
- Keep your distance
Maintaining distance between the driver ahead of you will mean you’re more likely to see potholes in advance and can take evasive action if necessary/possible.
- Try not to speed
Hitting a pothole when driving at high speeds will mean more damage will be caused to your car. If you see one ahead, take your foot off the accelerator and slow down.
- Don’t break unless necessary
If possible, don’t brake as you go over the pothole, as this will tilt the car forward, placing more pressure on the front suspension.
- Hold your steering wheel correctly
Hold your steering wheel at the ‘ten’ and two’ position, this will give you the most control and will help you to avoid veering off course if you do hit a pothole.
- Stay vigilant
Keep your eyes peeled and check the road ahead is clear, it’s also important to be watchful for other road users or pedestrians in case you need to maneuver to avoid a pothole.
What are the best pothole-proof prestige vehicles?
Inevitably, the cars best equipped to deal with poor roads and potholes are SUVs. SUVs tend to ride a lot higher on the road and have thicker sidewalls on their tyres, but other vehicle types with durable suspension will also fair a little better.
Our top “pothole-proof” vehicles include:
Land Rover Defender
As well as riding high, and thicker sidewalls on the tyres, the popular 4 x 4 has a comfortable ride and is literally built for undulating territory.
F-Types have conventional suspension, which gives you a ride that’s sports car firm but not too bumpy. You’ll always feel undulations in the road as the car passes over them, but they shouldn’t feel too uncomfortable.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class & S-Class
New C-Class and S-Class models can actually detect potholes or speed bumps. The vehicles feature a suspension control unit that can register a pothole or bump and then send this information to Mercedes’ cloud via the mobile phone network so that it can be forwarded to other vehicles connected to the cloud. This information then shows up on the navigation map of other Mercedes vehicles in the area.
Report a pothole
If you do happen to find a pothole on the road, it’s best to report it straight away so that it can be fixed, you can do this on the Governments website here.
If you’re interested in prestige vehicles and are looking for a competitive finance quote, reach out to our team today.
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