Potholes, Sinkholes and Holes in Your Pocket

Tips for taking on South Africa's aging roads

It should come as no surprise to motorists on South African roads, that most tyre repairs are the result of damage caused by potholes and poor road conditions. According to a tyre repair centre, heavy rains worsen the state of existing potholes and even worse, obscure the vision of unsuspecting drivers, making potholes almost invisible to the naked eye.  

But no need to fret, we’ve got you! Here are a few tips to avoid holes in your pockets by minimizing potential damage and costly repairs:

Don't slam on the brakes
We know that potholes have a way of ‘appearing out of nowhere’, catching you unawares when you’re on the road. But whatever you do, don’t slam on the brakes – it won’t do your vehicle any favours. Braking as you attempt to cross the pothole is when most damage to your car is likely to happen. If you’ve spotted a pothole on the road ahead, slow down gradually before you arrive at the gaping hole. While it might go against your better instincts, your car is likely to be better off as a result.

Go with what you know
Stick to routes you are familiar with to avoid unexpected surprises. If you're unable to stick to your typical commuting route, make sure to stick to the speed limit, as this will help you to a more-than-bumpy ride over potholes which will cause unnecessary damage.

Mind the puddles
Just about every part of the country has a rainy season, some more than others. Rainy conditions can result in potholes appearing to be no more than mere puddles. Careful, potholes pretending to be puddles tend to conceal the depth and nature of these treacherous obstacles. So, stay alert in wet weather, and hold the steering wheel firmly to prevent your vehicle from jerking or veering out of control. If your wheels are properly aligned, you should have relatively free passage as you pass over the pothole, so make sure to check your alignment regularly.

Make sure you're insured
Whether you’ve named your car Miss Daisy or Herbie, show some love by making sure your ‘little baby’ is covered. Most comprehensive car insurance plans do make provisions for tyre and rim damage sustained as a result of driving through a pothole, so if you're a regular road user, touch base with your insurer to make sure that your vehicle is appropriately covered in the event of an unwelcome pothole or sinkhole incident.

Post-pothole checks
If you find yourself involved in a nasty little encounter with a pothole, make sure to give your vehicle a thorough once-over. If possible, pull over to the side of the road to check that your tyres are still intact, and make sure to check for any oil or water leaks, which can occur as a result of damage to the undercarriage of the car.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula recently announced that 80% of South African roads have reached the end of their 20-year lifespan. So, the sad reality is that potholes are likely to be an undesirable but inevitable feature of our country’s roads for some time to come.

We hope our tips help you to pre-empt and prepare for potholes, so that you live your way -  enjoying every road-trip, whether you’re on holiday, visiting loved ones, or doing school runs.

MiWay is a licensed non-life insurer and Financial Services Provider (FSP 33970).


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