5 car parts that could be damaged by potholes
Bitumen roads might seem like they’re rock solid, but they’re softer than you’d think. Just like gravel roads, moisture and high levels of traffic can break down the surface, leaving every driver’s worst enemy: potholes.
According to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, more than $15.6 billion (2008-2009) is spent on road construction and maintenance annually.
Despite the overwhelming costs in road repair, the number of potholes only seems to have increased.
That leaves drivers weaving around the hazard, avoiding potholes wherever possible.
Even worse, you can’t avoid the pothole and cringe as your wheel plunges into it with a crunch.
Try to avoid potholes whenever you can. If you hit a doozy because you didn’t see it or didn’t have enough time to react, it can cause serious impact to your car.
So, what are the five car parts that can be damaged by potholes?
- Tie Rod Ends
- Control Arm
- Stabiliser Bar Link
What are these parts and how do they work? Read on to find out.
Tie Rod Ends
Tie rod ends are the small ball joints that connect your power steering gear to your wheel.
These small swiveling joints are susceptible to damage and wear, particularly from big impacts like a major pothole.
A tie rod end can bend or the ball socket can become loose. In extreme cases, the tie rod end can come apart. In which case, you’ll need a tow.
As your suspension bounces, your control arms maintain the vertical position of your wheels. The impact of a serious pothole may bend a control arm.
Often it sets your steering wheel off-centre, and can affect how your steering reacts. You may not notice those symptoms immediately, but your tyres will begin to wear unevenly.
Stabiliser Bar Link
Ranging in length from 10cm to 30cm, stabiliser bar links have small ball joints at each end. They attach to the ends of your sway bar and help eliminate side-to-side sway when your car is cornering.
A big pothole can wear the socket in a swift motion, and you’ll hear a knocking noise from the front of your car over bumps.
The stabiliser bar link can also break altogether. This causes your car’s suspension to react differently from side to side.
On top of this, the link can flop around, potentially jamming up your steering or puncturing a tyre.
Crunching into a pothole dead-on impacts your tyre first. If it’s underinflated, the sidewall can pinch and the tire may go flat immediately.
Alternatively, the impact can separate the liner from the tyre body, causing a bubble in the sidewall which could blow out.
If the impact is severe enough, the rim may also be damaged. Hard-hitting potholes can bend or even crack a rim, and the tyre could deflate.
That’s a car part, not an instruction!
Front struts are the main suspension components which absorb impact from potholes. If you hit a large pothole straight on, a strut may not be able to take the force.
The strut’s hardened shaft may bend, causing alignment issues, steering concerns, and an ill-tempered suspension.
If you’ve hit a pothole (or two) and suspect you’ve suffered damage, visit AutoGuru.com.au.
Our network of 1600 trusted, local workshops and mobile mechanics can inspect your vehicle and give you advice and quotes on any repairs that may be necessary.
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Image Credit - Chris UK
Jason is a Canadian automotive content writer with a background in the auto service industry, but he’s been hooked on cars and mechanics since childhood.
One of his first cars was an ’80 Mazda RX-7 that’s sorely missed to this day. A ’68 Ford Torino GT, a ’66 Ford Country Squire Woodie station wagon, and a ’96 Suzuki GSX-R 750 have spent time in his fleet of cars, bikes, and trucks over the past two decades.
Jason’s pride and joy is under construction – a turbocharged ’88 Mazda RX-7 convertible. Also on his resume is CASCAR official certification.