Potholes and Wheel Alignment: What You Need to Know
Hardly a winter goes by in Maryland where you don’t see new potholes popping up. While most of the time you can avoid them, occasionally you have no choice but to drive over them. What an unpleasant sound that makes, and it can jolt your whole car. That jolting can damage your car’s alignment and suspension.
How can this happen? Keep reading to learn more.
What Causes Potholes?
First, we should talk a little about potholes. You’ve seen them on the edge of the road, in the middle of the road, just about anywhere vehicles travel. The freeze-thaw cycle we get in the winter is to blame for potholes, although there can be other factors.
Water in the ground freezes as temperatures drop, and the ice expands, putting pressure on the pavement above. And if there are any cracks at all in the pavement, water seeps in there and freezes as well, expanding the pavement.
Then when the ice melts, the pavement contracts. This leaves larger gaps and small holes in the pavement, weakening it further. As vehicles continue to drive over the weakened pavement, loosened chunks of pavement are displaced, and a pothole forms. It can be small at first, and then turn into a monster-sized pothole if it isn’t repaired.
If you see a pothole on your daily travels, report it to the Maryland State Highway Association (MSHA) or your local municipality so they can send a maintenance crew out to patch it.
How Potholes Can Hurt Your Car
If you drive over a pothole full-on, it will jolt your car. The bigger the pothole, the bigger the jolt. If you think “Oh, that can’t be good,” you’re right. The sudden jolt can damage your vehicle’s suspension, and throw your wheels out of alignment. The longer the wheels are out of alignment, the worse the problem becomes.
You see, your vehicle’s wheels and axles need to be in alignment to evenly distribute power to the wheels. This is what gives you the smooth ride you expect.
In addition to a rough ride, misalignment can cause a host of problems, including:
- Uneven wear on your tires
- Stress on your suspension system
- Damage to your shock absorbers and struts
- Damage to the sway bar
- And more
Wheel alignment is an easy fix for these problems. And by taking care of it now, you may be able to avoid having to replace your tires more often, or pay for expensive suspension work.
Signs You May Need Wheel Alignment
There are some telltale signs that your wheels are out of alignment. They include:
- Car pulls to the right
- Car pulling to the left
- Car drifts off center if you take your hands off the wheel (low speed, empty parking lot)
- Steering wheel shaking
- Uneven tire wear
If you notice these signs after hitting a pothole, a curb, or driving on a rough road, it’s time to schedule a trip to the auto repair shop.
Call to Schedule Wheel Alignment
Call us today to schedule wheel alignment for your car, truck, SUV, or minivan. Depending on your vehicle, you will get either 2-wheel alignment or 4-wheel alignment. With front-wheel-drive, the mechanic will align the front wheels. If you have AWD or 4WD, the technician will align all four wheels.
In Joppa, call (410) 679-0091 and in Bel Air, call (410) 893-6792. On average, wheel alignment service will take about an hour, but could take longer if we need to replace parts because of too much wear and tear.