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After each winter, the number of potholes on the road seems to multiply. Unfortunately, the damage a pothole can do to your vehicle is potentially devastating, so it’s important to be on the lookout for potholes and learn how to minimize the damage. Believe it or not, there are several things you can do to prevent pothole damage from destroying your car.

Leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you on the road.

While this is good safe driving advice and required by law in many places anyway, leaving space between you and the car in front of you gives you time to spot a pothole as you approach it, and if possible, avoid it. Never swerve suddenly to avoid a pothole; you may cause a much worse accident hitting another vehicle, person, biker, oncoming traffic, or a solid object.

Drive slower.

This may not seem like an ideal solution, but you’re more likely to suffer damage if you hit a pothole going fast than if you hit it going slowly. Ultimately, you’ll make it to your destination faster if you don’t have to stop and check out pothole damage.

Look out for puddles.

A puddle might be a small divot in the road that you hardly notice, or it could be a car-killing foot-deep pothole, just hiding under a pool of water. Be careful, slow down, and think of your poor tires.

Avoid sudden braking.

If you don’t have enough time to slow down before hitting a pothole, resist the urge to swerve out of the way sharply or brake too suddenly and harshly. Braking quickly compresses the front suspension, lowering the front of the vehicle, which can force the wheel deeper into the pothole and make it harder for it to come out the other side, rather than allowing it to glide over the top. While not ideal, gliding over the top is better for your vehicle in the long run.

Keep your tires properly inflated.

If you hit a pothole with under-inflated or overinflated tires, they’re less likely to hold up and more likely to suffer damage. Flat tires are a common result of hitting a pothole.

If you do hit a pothole, stop and check for damage as soon as possible.

The longer you drive a damaged vehicle, the more likely it is that the damage will grow. Check your tires, be aware of your steering and alignment, and if you are uncertain, have a technician take a look.

Pay attention to your steering.

One of the first things a pothole can affect is your steering and alignment, so make sure not to swerve when you hit a pothole, and pay attention to your alignment following a hit.