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Following heavy or prolonged rainfall in parts of South Africa, drivers have a new challenge to deal with: potholes. These will be lurking under pools of water or likely be closer to craters than potholes. Some cars may handle these with ease but for the rest, extra care needs to be taken to avoid becoming a victim of a pothole.

The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says one of the best tools for drivers in this situation is technology. “Apps like Waze notify drivers when to expect a pothole in the road. Even if you know how to get to your destination, keep the app open as it will still notify you of hazards. Do your part and record potholes on the app to warn other drivers, but not while you are driving! Along with this there are a number of tips that you can follow to try avoid damaging your vehicle on a pothole.”

  • Reduce your speed. If you suddenly spot a pothole, lower speeds will give you extra time to react or reduce the impact if you are unable to avoid it.
  • Do not drive through large puddles of water. Not only may there be a pothole hidden under this but a large portion of the road may have washed away.
  • Leave a larger following distance so that if you only see the pothole once the vehicle in front of you passes it, you have adequate time to react.
  • Watch the cars ahead of you. Should one of them suddenly swerve or move to one side of the road, slow down and look out for the cause of their movement.
  • If you know that a road that you travel on is prone to potholes following heavy rain, change your route where possible.
  • Be extra cautious or avoid driving at night, when roads are particularly wet after extended rainfall or in areas with no or low lighting.
  • Be aware of where the cars around you are so that should you need to move out of your lane, you already know if there is space to do so. 
  • While you should never drive distracted, especially avoid this when the risk of potholes is high
  • If you are forced to drive over a patch of road where the tar has washed away, do so slowly and carefully.
  • If a deep pothole is blocking your path do not drive through it but wait until there is a safe opportunity to drive around or turn around.

If you do hit a pothole, despite your best efforts, Herbert advises checking the following:

  • If any of your tyres have deflated (if you did not immediately feel them burst)
  • Dents in the rims
  • Cracks and bulges in the tyres
  • If the vehicle pulls to the side as wheel alignment may have been affected
  • Damage to the exhaust
  • Leaks from your undercarriage

Keep an eye out for dreaded potholes this weekend whenever you drive. You can save yourself money, time and from potentially dangerous situations.