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The Pothole Report

By Jeremy Koch on

You really can learn most of what you need to know about the condition of the road by watching ahead. See that car swerve, yet no squirrels in sight? See that panicked smashing of brakes? See that curious combination of both of these actions? Back off, and save yourself a lot of grief. This is Canada; potholes happen. 


Potholes are formed from cracks in the pavement caused by heat and the stress put on our roads by cars driving over them. The more vehicles on the road, and the heavier thay are, the more potholes will crop up.

EDMONTON STATISTICS If your vehicle is damaged from hitting a pothole, you can submit a damage claim. Damages caused by potholes are not immediately paid by the City. Each claim is evaluated according to provincial legislation to ensure the City is responsible. The City is careful and fair when following its duties under provincial legislation.

Did you know?

  • In 2010, 155 pothole claims were presented to the City - of these, 80% were NOT paid.
  • $11,799 was paid for all pothole claims last year, averaging about $380 per pay out.

Here are some tips to help you avoid potholes, and how to know if you've suffered damage to your car if you can't.

Be on the lookout. Potholes can literally appear overnight and even those recently patched over can break up again.

Check your tire pressures. Keep all four tires at recommended levels to give yourself as much of a cushion as possible.

Be careful about swerving. Only swerve if you aren't going to broadside another car. It's an instinct, but know what's around you at all times. Again, driving is all about good vision and zero distractions.

Find yourself in a pothole? Don't hit the brakes hard. You will force the weight of your car forward and into the pothole, causing even more damage. Maintain your steering and control until you can determine if there's damage, and how much.

THE BAD NEWS! Potholes can cause big damage. While there is recourse available through both municipal and provincial governments, don't hold your breath waiting for reimbursement. It's an insurance issue, and they would rather you went through your insurance than theirs. You have to prove negligence on the part of the government involved, and you have to do it fast. How do you know you've bunged up your car? Other than the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, there are some very obvious clues.

Your steering will pull. This is your alignment and is paramount for handling as well as tire function. Your steering wheel should point the same way as your tires.

Your control is compromised. You feel your car bottoming out or bouncing erratically. You may feel swaying, especially on turns. This indicates your suspension has taken a hit, and can negatively affect everything from shocks, struts, ball joints, steering rack, bearings, seals and tie rods. Yes, they're as expensive as they sound and also very important.

Take a look at your tires. Look for cuts or bulges. What may seem okay at low speeds can be a potential blowout at higher ones. You should visually inspect your car frequently; after a pothole crunch, do it immediately.

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS! You can prevent this from happening! Take the following precautions and even if you do hit a pothole, the outcome will be far more manageable for your car and your wallet.

Slow down and pay close attention to the road, especially if there's water. Alberta roads are a minefield in spring time and besides, you've been slowing down all winter so this should come naturally.

Clean your headlights. Any excuse to maximize your chances of spotting a visually elusive pothole at night is a good one.

Avoid driving too close to the side or center of the road. Potholes especially love proliferating on the side where street and sidewalks meet. Watch out.

Don't overinflate your tires. Unless you want your tires to burst on impact! Don't underinflate your tires. It can wreak havoc on your wheel rims.

Don't brake in a pothole. When a wheel hits a pothole, it falls into the hole and has to emerge. It is rare that the entry causes the damage - rather it is the exit. The amount of damage depends on the diameger of the tire, the depth and length of the pothole, and the speed of the vehicle. When in doubt - talk to our expert technicians and tire specialists - we're here to help!  

By Jeremy Koch on
Call (780) 434-8411
Call Koch at (780) 434-8411