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Montreal Potholes Aren't Waiting For Spring — Here's How To Protect Your Car

Experts say bad roads cost Quebecers an average of $258 extra per year. 🕳️🚗

MTL Blog, Associate Editor
​An SUV drives past a large pothole on a Montreal street.

An SUV drives past a large pothole on a Montreal street.

That loud clunk when you roll over a ginormous pothole is one of the most recognizable and dreaded noises for a Quebec driver. With Montreal tire change season in full effect and temperatures dropping, potholes are set to proliferate on city streets this winter. CAA-Québec, which ranks the worst roads in the province, has tips on how to avoid vehicle damage when you do encounter a dip in the road during your drive.

"Driving over a pothole can cause a lot of damage to your car, starting with the tires… [It] can break the interior structure, tear the sidewall, or both," CAA-Québec spokesperson David Marcille told MTL Blog.

He advised that motorists check tire pressure at least once a month to avoid driving with them over- or under-inflated. Too much air in a tire when it hits a pothole can cause structural damage to the wheel — too little, and the tire might rupture.

If the tire doesn't absorb the whole impact of hitting a pothole, the wheel hub can also be damaged and fixing or replacing those often ranges between $400-800 on average.

You should do tire pressure checks before a drive, or at least two hours after one, "since the reading should be done 'cold'," said Marcille.

Potholes can also affect a car's suspension. When a car rolls over a deep hole in the asphalt, the wheel gets hit with both vertical and horizontal pressure. The suspension system, which connects a car's tires to the vehicle, is only meant to absorb shock from up and down movement.

"If there is enough horizontal force, the suspension arm or tie rod can be damaged, and of course, will knock out your wheel alignment," warned Marcille.

"Given the number of potholes we can encounter in a year, it is recommended to verify your wheel alignment yearly: this will save you a few bucks on gas and use your tires evenly."

Of course, if you can't completely avoid a pothole (and you'd be hard-pressed NOT to hit one while driving in Montreal), you should at least slow down as much as possible and let off the brakes just before making contact.

CAA-Québec has three rules of thumb when you encounter a hole in the road:

  • Do not brake. A locked wheel will always suffer more damage than a moving wheel. The key is to slow down.
  • Keep a firm grip on your steering wheel: maintaining control of your vehicle is essential.
  • Avoid zigzagging: this type of maneuver can cause more accidents than driving through the cavity.

A 2021 CAA National report investigating the cost of poorly maintained roads in Canada found that Quebecers spend the most to fix their cars on average due to road damage ($258 per vehicle per year). If you change some of your driving habits, you might be able to save a little bit on the repairs this year.

How do I report a pothole in Montreal?

If you encounter a pothole on a Montreal street and would like to report it to the city, you can use an online form. You'll need to mark where the pothole is on a map and identify the type (i.e. round hole in the road, multiple holes or cracks, etc.) and then attach a photo. If the pothole is especially dangerous and needs immediate attention you can call 311.

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