New research has revealed the staggering extent of pothole damage to vehicles in the UK. Breakdown provider Green Flag has found that British drivers are collectively spending £4.09 billion repairing their cars after hitting potholes.
The firm found that 56 per cent of drivers have sustained damage to their vehicles as a result of driving over potholes.
On average, repairing a car costs £230. What’s more drivers encounter around seven potholes on each journey, indicating that the chances of hitting one and sustaining damage is relatively high if you’re regularly on the roads.
And it seems that drivers are willing to do what they can to improve the situation, with 40 per cent of UK motorists prepared to pay more road tax or tolls to help improve the state of our roads.
What’s more, 27 per cent said they’d be prepared to add five miles to their journey if it meant they could avoid roads with potholes in them.
The Independent also reported that 66 per cent of the drivers surveyed by Green Flag said that potholes were their number one bugbear when it comes to driving. This was ahead of people driving too fast (36 per cent), people driving too slowly (29 per cent), and a lack of signposting (19 per cent).
Simon Henrick, from Green Flag, commented: “The problem of potholes on UK roads means there is an increased risk of car damage. With this in mind, it is important to stay safe when driving and to regularly check your vehicle and tyres for damage.”
If you hit a pothole and suspect that your car is damaged, there are a number of things that could be wrong.
A post for Universal Tyres last year ran through some of the most common kinds of damage caused by potholes.
As you might expect, damage to tyres and wheels is among the most common. The website suggested that you always check for any signs of damage if you’ve hit a pothole and are worried that you might have any problems.
Look at the tread of the tyres to make sure there’s no sign of tread separation, and check the sidewalls for bulges too. If you’ve been unlucky enough to hit the rim of your wheel, you should get it to a garage as soon as possible, because a damaged wheel rim can lead to a tyre blowout.
Another potential piece of damage a pothole can cause is to the exhaust. If you have a low car then it’s especially important that you take care when driving over potholes, as your exhaust is more likely to catch the edge of them or the road.
Hitting a pothole, or another bump in the road, could crack your exhaust or make a hole in it, which can mean your car stops performing properly, not to mention its emissions increasing.
You should also pay attention to how your vehicle is handling, because this can help you identify damage to your suspension. If you find that your car has any steering pull, or that your tyres are wearing unevenly, this could be a sign that something’s wrong with your suspension.
This could include anything from a broken ball joint to damaged struts or shocks. If it looks like you’re facing a costly repair, talk to us about sourcing car repair finance in Uxbridge to make sure you can get your vehicle back on the road as quickly as possible.
That said, Which? pointed out that it’s possible to claim compensation from your local authority or the Highways Agency in some circumstances if you suffer pothole damage. If you know that a pothole was the cause of damage to your vehicle, make sure you document everything.
Take photos not only of the damage to your car, but also of the pothole clearly showing its location and, if possible, how big it is.
According to the consumer rights organisation, you’re more likely to be successful in your claim if you can prove that the local authority or Highways Agency knew about the pothole and hadn’t done anything to fix it.
If you notice any potholes as you’re driving, it’s therefore worth reporting them, even if they don’t do any damage to your car. This means they’re more likely to be fixed, and also that should your car sustain any damage in the future, you’ll have a better chance of being compensated.
Any pothole on a motorway or an A-road should be reported to the Highways Agency. Otherwise you should report it to the relevant local council. Although the government announced that it was spending £201 million on maintenance work and resurfacing 1,000 miles of road, this is nowhere near enough to bring all the country’s roads back into a good state of repair.
It’s estimated that over £9 billion needs to be invested in the UK’s road network to fix all the potholes and other damage to carriageways, and ensure that the network is fit for purpose.
If you do want to put in a claim for compensation as a result of pothole damage, Which? recommends contacting the Highways Agency in the first instance to find out whether they will reimburse you for repairs.
It’s advisable to get a quote for the work first, so that you can provide an estimated cost when you ask this question.
When you take your car to be repaired, make sure you get receipts for everything. This is an important part of documenting not only how your car was damaged, but what needed to be done to make it roadworthy again.
Your receipts, coupled with photos of the damage and the pothole, will be very useful when you come to make a claim. Getting as much evidence together as possible will help strengthen your claim. Which? also points out that councils may be willing to negotiate, so even if you’re not able to recoup the whole cost you may get some money towards the repairs.
There should also be an appeals process you can follow if the council initially rejects your claim for compensation.