Auto potholes
Drivers spend millions every year repairing pothole damage to their tyres, alignment, and suspension... Image Credit: Shutterstock

The quality of the roads in the UAE is second to none - they are as smooth as silk. Indeed driving on them is a pleasure – they can even leave a rickety old Nissan Sunny feeling as suave as a Rolls-Royce Phantom… Not really, but you get the drift - our roads are top class. However, if you are planning a vacation anytime soon to other parts of the world and will be driving there, then amongst all sorts of other dangers on the roads, you have to watch out for potholes.

Potholes form when water gets into cracks in the road and then with the changes in temperature the water expands and these cracks get larger. Over time, they get big enough to cause serious damage to your vehicle if you happen to drive over them at speed.

So, if you have planned a trip to either Mauritania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Haiti – the three countries in the world with the lowest scores for road infrastructure according to recent surveys by the Global Competitiveness Index - then keep your eyes peeled because you are bound to hit a pothole and seriously damage your poor car. If the inevitable happens, here are at least 5 things to check right away…


Tyres are the only part of your vehicle that have any contact with the road and so it is not a surprise that they are extremely susceptible to pothole damage. Problems such as sidewall bulges, tread separation, or flats are common issues and they need to be replaced right away.


It is awful when you curb a wheel but the damage potholes can do is far worse than just skin-deep. Hard angles in potholes apply impact force to wheels in ways they were not designed to handle, leading to bends, chips, or cracks. A bent wheel will not roll smoothly and may not be able to form an airtight seal with a tyre either and although these can sometimes be repaired, chipped or cracked wheels can fail catastrophically and must be replaced.


There is a limit to how much a car’s suspension - designed to absorb impacts and provide a smooth ride - can handle and unexpected hits against potholes can cause all sorts of issues. These can include broken ball joints, and damaged shocks or struts. You will likely notice vibration coming through your steering wheel, and if the vehicle is pulling in one direction it means you may have an alignment issue too. There will also be unusual sounds and overall a poor ride quality. Since the suspension and chassis can be quite an intricate component, an experienced mechanic will need to inspect the entire system.


Running along the undercarriage of a vehicle, the exhaust system is a perfect target for potholes and several of its components such as the muffler or catalytic converter can be easily damaged. A crack in the exhaust will be immediately detectable because it will drastically alter the sound of your vehicle not to mention spew out harmful pollution and those harmful fumes can enter the cabin and pose a serious health hazard…


The lower a car is to the ground, the better it will handle - generally speaking. But, these cars are more likely to be damaged by potholes and areas such as low-hanging bumpers and side skirts are prone to serious damage…