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Potholes in the road. Photo: Kam Pratt, Pexels.

Avoiding pothole damage

It’s almost impossible to avoid pothole damage on South African streets – unless you follow these tips.

Given the state of South African roads, most motorists have encountered damage from potholes at some point this year. While vehicle owners are naturally eager to avoid the extra costs that come with damage to their wheels, shocks, mags and rims (which may lead to further problems like issues with vehicle suspension and vehicle alignment), the reality is that potholes can pose a real risk to the safety of all inside a car.

It’s possible to claim for pothole damage from the South African National Road Agency (SANRAL), but this can be a lengthy process, with the motorist bearing the burden of proving that the pothole had been in existence for some time and that the relevant municipality had full knowledge of it. They also need to provide a picture of the car, the pothole, and the road and surrounding area, while pinpointing the exact location where the accident happened. It may be easier (and less dangerous) to try to avoid pothole damage in the first place:

  • Don’t slam on your brakes when you drive over a pothole. This may cause an accident or add further damage to your car.
  • Don’t swerve around the pothole as this may endanger other road users.
  • To avoid losing control of the vehicle, hold tightly to the steering wheel and drive slowly.
  • Be extra cautious when roads are wet, as it is hard to tell if there is a pothole beneath puddles. If possible, drive slowly around wet spots on the road.
  • Be alert to signs of damage. If your steering wheel starts to vibrate, you have probably damaged one of the front rims. A vibrating seat, on the other hand, signifies a damaged rear rim. A deflated tyre is another sign of a damaged rim.
  • If you live in Gauteng, report potholes on the app PotholeFixGP App.