Apr 4, 2022
Pothole season has sprung into action across Toronto
After weeks of freezing and thawing temperatures, potholes begin to surface across the city. This surge in weather wreaks havoc on roads and vehicles.
Potholes are formed when liquid seeps into the gravel beneath the pavement through an existing crack or hole. It begins to freeze and melt all while the ground expands and contracts, compacting and eventually collapsing.
The infrastructure in roads is aging, and dramatic shifts in climate are some of the factors contributing to the creation of potholes. In 2021, there were over 120,000 pothole repairs made in Toronto alone. The peak month for this road work is between January and May.
Potholes are one of the dangers of spring driving across Canada that we need to be cautious of. Here’s what to do when you approach them on the road, how to deal with repairs, and if your insurer can help with the expense of a pothole claim.
What do potholes do to your car?
CAA’s report, Cost of Poor Roads in Canada, found that Canadian drivers incur an extra $126 annually due to poor quality roads. This adds up to $3 billion for drivers across the country.
Whether you are driving in the city or the country, potholes can do serious harm to your car. Here is an overview of the most common types of damage and the associated costs.
- Tires : Your tires will absorb the impact first. This can break the interior structure, tear the side, or both. If your tires are overinflated there is a greater risk of structural damage. Modified cars with low-profile tires and underinflated wheels are in jeopardy too. You’ll pay between $70 and $400 for repairs.
- Hubcaps : Hubcaps are attached to tires by pressure clamps which can easily be loosened when you roll into a pothole. This can cost between $25 and $150 per wheel.
- Shock absorbers : This part of your car risks wearing out due to extensive driving on bad roads. You can check by pushing down on each corner of your vehicle two or three times. Let go when the car is at the lowest point – if it bounces back twice or more, it is time to change it. Shock absorbers cost between $50 to $500 to fix.
- Suspension : When a wheel enters a pothole, it is a victim of vertical and horizontal force transmitted to the suspension. The suspension is designed to move up and down – if there is enough force, parts like the suspension arm, tire rod, and alignment can all be inoperative. Depending on the specific damage and how many wheels are affected, these costs range from $75 to $350 to fix.
- Alignment : If you hit a pothole, you risk your vehicle becoming misaligned or no longer facing square to the road. Vehicles that are not driving straight can face wear and tear and poor fuel efficiency. You’ll pay around $150 for all four wheels to fix your alignment.
The speed at which you hit the pothole and its depth will affect the extent of the damage.
Does insurance cover pothole damage?
When you are getting Ontario car insurance, make sure you are covered for pothole damages. If you need to submit a car insurance claim for pothole damage, you can seek support from your insurer. Most policies will cover the damages from hitting a pothole, as long as you have the right coverage in place.
Hitting a pothole is considered a single-vehicle collision. This means you would need collision or all perils insurance. If you have opted out of these options, you’ll have to cover repairs yourself. Keep in mind that some insurance companies may classify it as an at-fault claim, so do your research before submitting it to calculate if it’s worth it.
What to do when you encounter a pothole
Your first concern may be that your car is damaged beyond repair when you hit a pothole, but your priority should be the safety of yourself and other drivers. Here’s what to do when you encounter a pothole driving :
- Slow down as much as possible and try to avoid it. Never slam on your brakes. It’s better to let off braking until the moment before you hit a pothole. This will allow your car to absorb the blow.
- Hold the steering wheel tightly – hitting a pothole can cause you to lose control of the vehicle. If there is traffic or oncoming cars – you are better off hitting a pothole than oncoming traffic.
- If you hit the pothole, safety document the accident, check your vehicle and contact the city or your insurer, depending on the damage. Call a tow truck and do not try to pick up any fallen parts from the road.
- You can report a pothole by contacting 311 or finding your local pothole reporting resource online.
5 tips to prevent pothole damage
On some roads, it isn’t possible to completely avoid hitting a pothole. Here are four easy tips to remember next time the road you are is ridden with these sneaky hazards :
- Slow down : When approaching any hazard, slow down and change lanes if possible. This is another reason why it’s important to leave space between you and the car ahead of you.
- Avoid : Steer around the pothole, but be mindful of other drivers and oncoming traffic.
- Tires : Ensure your tires have proper inflation.
- Avoid pools of water : Limit driving along curb lanes. Due to how roads drain, deep puddles can hide potholes.
- Plan your trip ahead of time : Check your route ahead of time to ensure there are no construction zones or if other local drivers are reporting potholes along your route.
- Report : Contact your city or use an app to report potholes you’ve come across to improve the safety of roads.
How to report a pothole in Toronto
Toronto spends between $4 million and $5 million to address potholes yearly. In 2020, CityNews reported there was a pothole so bad that it damaged at least 12 vehicles.
Luckily, the city has implemented an online system to report potholes, or you can use the 311 app.
After receiving the report, they aim to have repairs done within four days on busy roads. On side streets, they have 30 days to repair it.
City of Toronto pothole compensation
Toronto car insurance are some of the highest in the province – but it doesn’t always help protect you in the case of hitting a pothole.
Some cities and towns may pay for damages that occurred from driving into a pothole. There is a list of rules that determine the criteria for City of Toronto pothole claims.
After you submit it, there will be an investigation. The City’s insurance adjusters will determine if they are responsible for your loss or damages. This can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days. If it is denied, you can proceed with legal action.
Depending on the age and size of the pothole, they will decide who is liable. You can learn more about the “Minimum Maintenance Standards for Highways in the City of Toronto” (MMS) online.
Potholes and insurance FAQs
You may have to pay your car insurance deductible if you submit a pothole related claim. It depends on what your policy has listed in that section. If your insurer succeeds at getting reimbursement from the local government, you may receive the deductible back.
It is possible to sue the city for pothole damages, but it’s not easy. It’s challenging to succeed in suing the city because they have strict guidelines of what constitutes their liability. Note that if you face personal injuries and you’re waiting on the city, SABS may be available to support you.
Hitting a pothole can cause tires to lose air because of the force or sudden air shift inside the tire. It can cause a sidewall to blow out, or the seal will be lost, therefore, air will leak out.