Freezing temperatures at this time of year can lead to a rise in the number of potholes in our roads.
More than 1,000,000 potholes were recorded on UK roads last year, causing more than £3m in damage to vehicles.
Potholes occur when water seeps through cracks in the road caused by passing vehicles. When the water freezes in the extreme cold the cracks expand. With the base weakened, traffic causes more wear and tear, making the hole even bigger.
Cheshire West and Chester Council has secured an extra £445,141 of funding to help tackle the annoying problem.
But did you know you can claim for damage caused to your car by a pothole?
The MEN reports that if you hit a pothole that the council should have fixed, either because it had been reported or they had noted it during inspections, then you are within your rights to seek compensation.
Bear in mind that potholes that are 40mm or below - the equivalent of two 20p pieces stacked on top of each other - don’t qualify according to Government guidelines introduced in October 2016.
Here’s what you need to know, according to the AA:
If you hit a pothole:
Pull over as soon as is safe and check for any damage to your wheels and tyres
If no damage is obvious straight away, keep an eye out for vibrations, your steering wheel not centring properly or the car pulling to one side.
If this is happening, get your car checked by a garage or tyre specialist as soon as possible as ignoring tracking or steering damage can cost you - and be dangerous.
Also, get your mechanic to put their findings in writing.
Take notes. The AA warns not to rely on your memory
They suggest returning to the scene, taking notes, making sketches and - if safe to do so - taking photographs of the pothole in question.
It’s a good idea to include a familiar object in your photo, like a shoe or drinks can, to give a sense of scale.
Make a note of exactly where the pothole was – the road name, town etc and its position in the road – as well as the contact details of anyone who saw what happened.
Report the pothole
Whether you intend to make a claim for damage or not, your first priority should be to report the pothole to your council.
They can then arrange repairs and prevent any other similar incidents.
Motorways and A roads in the UK are managed by Highways England so you would need to write to them.
Repair your car
Shop around for several quotes for repair work and keep all quotes, invoices and receipts. Also take copies to support your claim.
Make your claim
Write to the council responsible for the road with all the details you’ve collected, including copies of your quotes, invoices and receipts.
If your vehicle already had a problem, and the pothole made it worse, you can still claim but you won’t get the full repair costs back.
It’s important to note that an authority doesn’t have to pay out if it didn’t know about the pothole beforehand, ie, it hadn’t been reported to them or they hadn’t noticed it.
Didn’t work? You can appeal
By law, councils have to carry out road inspections and repairs. So if your claim’s rejected you can even ask to see details of the council’s road inspection reports and attempt a reclaim.