1. Check Tires
Frequently inspect your tires to ensure they are properly inflated and do not have significant wear. If you hit a pothole with worn or underinflated tires, there is a greater risk of wheel or suspension damage. Inflate tires according to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure levels. Find this information on the door jamb sticker and in your owner’s manual. Do not use the pressure levels molded on the tire sidewall. To check the tire tread depth, insert a quarter upside down into several tread grooves. If the top of Washington’s head is visible, it’s time for new tires. How to properly check tire tread
2. Inspect Suspension
Make certain struts, shock absorbers and other suspension parts are in good condition. Changes in vehicle handling, excessive vibration or uneven tire wear can indicate damaged or worn parts. Have a certified auto service technician inspect the suspension if you suspect a problem.
3. Look Ahead
Stay alert and check the road ahead to avoid potholes. Stay focused on the road and avoid distractions. Before swerving around a pothole, check your surroundings so you do not collide with another vehicle or endanger nearby pedestrians or cyclists.
4. Slow Down
If you cannot avoid a pothole, reduce your speed safely. Check the rearview mirror before braking abruptly. Hitting a pothole at higher speeds greatly increases the chance of tire, wheel and suspension component damage. Releasing the brakes just before hitting a pothole allows the wheel and tire to roll through the depression and helps minimize potential damage.
5. Beware of Puddles
Drive cautiously through puddles as they may be deep potholes filled with water.
What to Do If You Hit a Pothole and Suspect Damage
Get a Vehicle Inspection. Hard pothole impact can knock the wheels out of alignment and affect steering, or dislodge wheel weights, damage a tire or wheel, and bend or even break suspension parts. Have a qualified mechanic check the wheel alignment if the vehicle pulls to the left or right. Have the suspension inspected if you notice any new or unusual noises or vibrations.