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Where We Live: Watch out for that pothole

Have you hit a pothole today? Chances are you probably did.

Pennsylvania roads this time of year are plagued with potholes. I have hit so many that my car needs realigned. I’m really not trying to hit them. It’s not like I’m aiming for them or something. I’m actually trying to avoid them, as is every other driver on the road.

But I must confess that sometimes when I see the car in front of me swerve to miss one, I swerve on the other side of the pothole, which must really freak out the driver behind both of us.

Anyway, I researched our delightful road divots and came across some interesting information. Did you know that hitting potholes can cause more than misalignment? Who knew? Well, www.firestonecompleteautocare.com and www.yourmechanic.com did. They had some good advice to help people know if their car has undergone pothole damage and needs repaired.

1  Check the tires and rims, and if you can see damage such as a sizable dent in the rim, then “Bingo” you’ve been bitten by a pothole. Potholes can also cause flat tires and a bubble or bulge to form on the sidewall of the tire, which means the inner lining has been damaged.

2 If the steering wheel shakes or your car can’t stay centered, it doesn’t need yoga; it might need to be realigned.

3 Of course, steering wheel problems can also mean that shocks and struts were damaged or there is a broken ball joint. Yikes!

4 OK, so the tire and rims are fine, the steering wheel is good, but there are drips under your car that weren’t there before. Maybe you hit one of those potholes that leave you saying “D’oh!” like Homer Simpson. Well, if you did, the undercarriage of your car may have dipped down far enough to scrape the pavement. It’s best to look into that drip.

5 And you should probably turn off your music occasionally and listen to your car. If you hear noises, maybe a rumbling, that wasn’t there before, then the exhaust system might have been damaged.

Chin up! Like a dear friend of mine said recently, “You know what’s good about potholes? It means spring is here.” It also means it’s road construction season.

Every main thoroughfare will be dotted with bright yellow trucks pouring asphalt, rollers smoothing it out and workers spooning shovels full of hot asphalt filler into those miserable roadway scars.

Drive slowly around them.

If you are among the many motorists who have encountered these areas of missing pavement, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation wants to know about it.

You can call PennDOT at 800-FIX-ROAD or go to www.penndot.gov and click on “Submit Roadway Feedback.”

Safe travels!