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Car Safety

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Potholes Can Cause Serious Car Damage

(NUI) - Most drivers are familiar with the startling jolt associated with running over a pothole unexpectedly. For some, it also means costly automotive repairs.

"The appearance of potholes brings the potential of damage to vehicle suspension components," said John Nielsen, director of AAA's Approved Auto Repair Network.

AAA, the nation's largest organization for motorists, offers these tips to help protect vehicles against the jarring experience of a pothole encounter:

* Maintain full air pressure in all tires to provide as much cushion as possible between the pothole and the rim of the tire. Consult the vehicle owner's manual for the correct pressure.

* Watch for potholes by leaving plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Before swerving around a pothole, be sure to check surrounding traffic.

* If a pothole cannot be avoided, slow down. Hitting a pothole at high speed increases the chance of damage to tires, wheels, shocks, struts or springs.

* When driving over a pothole-filled road, hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control.

* Do not brake when directly over a pothole. Applying the brakes causes the car's weight to shift to the front of the wheel and can increase damage from the impact.

* Beware of water that may be concealing a deep pothole.

"Hitting even one especially severe pothole could alter the alignment of a wheel and cause uneven tire wear," Nielsen said. "Uneven tire wear means the tire will need to be replaced sooner than necessary."

A broken shock or strut from a pothole encounter could alter the steering and handling of a vehicle and create dangers when driving at high speeds or in tight corners. Broken suspension components should be remedied immediately, he said.

AAA recommends that motorists who suspect their vehicle may have been damaged by a pothole should take it to an AAA approved auto repair facility where it can be carefully inspected and serviced if necessary.

There are more than 7,500 AAA approved repair facilities in North America. The names and addresses of these shops can be located at www.aaa.com, or by calling your local AAA motor club.



Editor's Note: October is AAA Car Care Month.




















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