See a pothole? Philadelphia Streets Department says makes sure you call 311

Already, the city has repaired over 4,000 potholes this year.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It is that time of year again when potholes start appearing on city streets, country lanes and the busiest highways.

Everyone hates potholes, but if you see one, the city says to speak up.

"Just don't assume that somebody else called it in. If you see a pothole out there, call 311. The Streets Department will evaluate and take the next course of action," said Steve Lorenz, chief highways engineer with the Philadelphia Streets Department.

He says you could get reimbursed for the damage to your car.

"You can file a claim with risk management and they will do their process to either compensate or determine what the cause was," said Lorenz.

It's clear how drivers feel.

"They are horrible through the city and out here too. They are bad for your tires and the alignment on your car," said Anita Merritt of Glenolden, Pennsylvania.

AAA technician Dan Cave says potholes are not only irritating, but can cause major damage to your car. The repairs can quickly jump into thousands of dollars.

"We see a lot of rim damage, tire damage," said Cave. "We saw one in the $3,000 area."

Already, the city has repaired over 4,000 potholes this year.

Last year, they repaired 48,000. You can blame many of the holes on Mother Nature's freeze and thaw process.

"Throughout January, we've had warmer days, cooler nights and the moisture gets into the ground and it contracts and expands," said Lorenz.

With more winter weather on the way, you can expect to see more potholes.

If you report them, crews will try to fix them in about three days.

The city says the key to tackling potholes is a good resurfacing program.

"Over the next two years, we are planning on paving close to 150 miles of street. We are picking the worst ones first," said Lorenz.

To aid motorists in protecting their vehicles from pothole damage, AAA recommends the following:

  • Inspect Tires - The tire is the most important cushion between a car and a pothole. Make sure tires have enough tread and are properly inflated. To check the tread depth, insert a quarter into the tread groove with Washington's head upside down. The tread should cover part of Washington's head. If it doesn't, then it's time to start shopping for new tires. When checking tire pressures, ensure they are inflated to the manufacturer's recommended levels, which can be found in the owner's manual or on a sticker on the driver's door jamb. Do not use the pressure levels stamped on the sidewall of the tire.
  • Look Ahead - Make a point of checking the road ahead for potholes. An alert driver may have time to avoid potholes, so it's important to stay focused on the road and not any distractions inside or outside the vehicle. Before swerving to avoid a pothole, check surrounding traffic to ensure this will not cause a collision or endanger nearby pedestrians or cyclists.
  • Slow Down - If a pothole cannot be avoided, reduce speed safely being sure to check the rearview mirror before any abrupt braking. Hitting a pothole at higher speeds greatly increases the chance of damage to tires, wheels and suspension components.
  • Beware of Puddles - A puddle of water can disguise a deep pothole. Use care when driving through puddles and treat them as though they may be hiding potholes.
  • Check Alignment - Hitting a pothole can knock a car's wheels out of alignment and affect the steering. If a vehicle pulls to the left or right, have the wheel alignment checked by a qualified technician.
  • Recognize Noises/Vibrations - A hard pothole impact can dislodge wheel weights, damage a tire or wheel, and bend or even break suspension components. Any new or unusual noises or vibrations that appear after hitting a pothole should be inspected immediately by a certified technician.
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