It’s that ugly time of year when potholes litter our roadways, often leaving drivers who hit them stranded at the roadside and in need of help. And, while the desire is always a quick fix, AAA Emergency Rescue data indicates that last year, an average of 25% of all tire-related calls resulted in the need for a tow.
“Flat-tires may be thought of as a minor inconvenience but a flat that requires a tow can be much more disruptive… and much more expensive,” says Bob Kazmierczak, Director of Roadside Assistance for AAA. “And, in addition to the tow, there is the expense of repairs.”
A Simple Fix
The good news is there is a simple fix that will dramatically reduce the chances that a flat tire will require a tow. AAA Emergency Roadside data indicates that last year, an average of 50% of the tire-related tows were because the vehicle had no usable spare.
“Many new vehicles do not come with a spare so, for starters, you should check your trunk,” Kazmierczak says.
The other possibility is that drivers have not maintained their spare, so it is unusable.
With that in mind, AAA is strongly encouraging motorists to make sure they have a spare and that it is properly inflated and usable in the event of a breakdown.
In an effort to encourage basic car care and avoid the need for Emergency Roadside Service, most AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel Centers are running tire specials at this time. Find the nearest AAA Car Care or AAA Approved Auto Repair facility here.
Is Your Tow and the Damage Caused by Potholes Covered by Insurance?
Maybe. Maybe not. Typically, a flat tire is not covered by insurance because it is considered basic wear and tear. But, a blowout caused by a pothole, the tow, and additional damages to your vehicle may be covered…depending on your level of coverage.
“This is a painful lesson learned too late by many motorists,” says Sonia Medina, spokesperson for AAA Insurance. “Drivers who opt for minimum coverage may find themselves paying a steep price when it comes to potholes.”
Additional damage caused by potholes may include dented rims, damaged wheels, dislodged wheel weights, displaced struts, dislocated shock absorbers, and damaged exhaust systems. All are costly common automotive issues caused by pothole run?ins. Other pothole-related issues include misaligned steering systems and ruptured ball joints.
AAA urges all vehicle owners to talk to their insurance advisors in advance of a pothole problem to ensure they are adequately covered should the need arise.
Of course, the best way to prevent pothole damage or tire troubles that might require a tow is to avoid potholes altogether.
AAA offers the following tips for avoiding potholes/minimizing damage:
- Beware of Puddles – puddles are often potholes in disguise.
- Look ahead – Make a point of scanning the road ahead for potholes. An alert driver is more likely to have time to avoid a pothole.
- Increase following distance – this will give you additional time to avoid potholes otherwise hidden by the vehicle in front of you
- Limit distractions – Avoiding potholes is much easier if you are paying attention to the road ahead.
- Slow Down – Slowing down will increase the chance of avoiding a pothole and, if a pothole cannot be avoided, reduced speed will likely mean reduced damage.
- Inspect Tires – Make sure tires are properly inflated and have a healthy tread. Tires that are not road-ready are at greater risk of a blowout or flat.
- Take Care of Your Spare – Check your trunk. Many newer cars do not have spare tires, or the spare is unusable, causing greater inconvenience to drivers and their passengers in the event of a flat.
- Don’t Ignore Noises/Vibrations – A hard pothole impact can dislodge wheel weights, damage the tire or wheel and even break suspension components. Any unusual noises after a pothole hit should be inspected immediately.
Total TOWS in 2021 % of tire-related calls requiring a tow % of tire-related tows because of no useable spare
- CT 38,188 almost 30% more than 50%
- DC 13,400 almost 20% almost 25%
- DE 13,297 more than 20% more than 55%
- KS 13,789 more than 25% more than 50%
- KY 19,606 almost 30% more than 50%
- MD 92,461 more than 20% more than 50%
- NJ 75,688 more than 20% almost 45%
- OH 58,673 more than 25% more than 55%
- OK 41,493 almost 30% almost 50%
- PA 83,126 more than 20% more than 50%
- SD 5,105 more than 25% almost 50%
- VA 54,903 more than 20% almost 50%
- WVA 2,689 almost 30% more than 50%