Tip: As Snow Melts And Potholes Emerge, Look Out For Vehicle Damage

March 2, 2011
Volvo on pothole - flickr user comedy_nose

Volvo on pothole - flickr user comedy_nose

This has been a particularly harsh winter—not just for people, but for vehicles.

Even if you and your vehicle made it through the black ice, snow squalls, and white-outs mostly unscathed, don't forget to schedule a vehicle checkup with your mechanic—especially if your car has been outside in deep snow, or if you've been out driving on some of those worst days. Winter-related vehicle damage could still leave you stranded in weeks or months to come, or it might have adversely affected your car's safety.

And what's most damaging could still be there on your commute: potholes.

According to the Car Care Council, you should watch out for these issues, which might have resulted from pothole damage:

  • Loss of control, swaying, or bottoming out. Any excessive motion, clunks, squeaks, or bouncing—or a feeling that you're not completely in control? They're all serious signs of steering or suspension damage.
  • Pulling to the side, or uneven wear. These both signal an improper alignment—something that needs to be taken care of right away to ensure safety.
  • Low tire pressure, tire bulges, or dents to the rim. Tire-sidewall bulges are likely the result of impacts with curbs, and they're dangerous; so are severe dents to the rim. If your tire pressure is low and you don't see any other damage, you should still take the tire and wheel in for an inspection; at the very least, you might have damaged your valve stem when powering through snowbanks.

But that's actually just the start. In the rapid freezes and thaws of winter, belts can crack, pulleys can work out of adjustment, hoses and gaskets can develop small leaks, and bushings that were fine in fall can emerge from winter hard and cracked. Do your routine oil and fluid checks a little more often in the coming weeks, but better yet don't forget about routine maintenance.

[Car Care Council]

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