How to Know if a Pothole Damage Your Tires & Wheels


You’re on your way to work or visiting some famous St. Louis sites when you suddenly find yourself sidelined after a nasty run-in with a pothole. In fact, potholes can take you by surprise at any time of day—and they can cause some real damage to not just your tires, but your entire vehicle.

With the winter months here, asphalt will begin expanding and contracting as temperatures change. That means the potential for more potholes. (Rinse, repeat—the agonizing cycle continues.) Let’s take a look at how potholes can cause havoc to your wheels, tires and the rest of your car.

Tire and Wheel Damage

After you’ve hit a pothole that’s obviously caused some damage, you’ll want to find a safe place to pull over—don’t try to drive. Once you’re safely stopped, inspect the tires and wheels for problems, like flats, bent rims, broken axles and tears.


Start with a visual inspection. Look at the tire’s sidewall and note any abnormalities, like bubbles, blisters, or abrasions.
Listen for any sounds that indicate the tire’s losing air, and check the air pressure. Your vehicle may be equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system. If so, TPMS does the work for you by illuminating when the tire loses air.


Potholes can cause flats, but the real damage may be done to your wheels; they may have bent or cracked. Sometimes, you aren’t able to see any signs of damage on the outer area of the wheel; however, there’s a good chance that there’s a problem on the inside edge, out of sight. It’s recommended to have your wheels professionally inspected after a hard hit with a pothole. If you need an inspection or any pothole damage repairs in St. Louis, visit Pappas Toyota.

Other Issues & Signs of Pothole Damage

Tires and wheels are just two areas of a vehicle that potholes can ruin. Look for these other issues after your run-in with that cement crater:

Steering Wheel Shakes

Feeling a vibration in your wheels, a shaking steering wheel, or hearing a whirring sound are all indicators that there’s some unseen damage that needs attention. Your vehicle may have been knocked out of alignment. It could also point to bearing, axle, or CV damage.

Taking care of any one of these symptoms in a timely manner is tantamount to your safety. Schedule a repair with a reliable mechanic as soon as possible.

Fluid Leak

If the pothole was particularly deep, you may have scraped the undercarriage of your vehicle enough to create a fluid leak. Fluid leaks ruin a vehicle’s performance in a couple of ways:

First, without the proper fluid to lubricate the vehicle’s components, you run the risk of seizing those parts to the point of facing very extensive repairs. Second, leaks encourage poor air circulation, which ultimately leads to rust and corrosion of parts. Third, if you’ve damaged you’re a fuel line, you’re in immediate danger of ignition or, at the least, wasting money on fuel.

Exhaust Leak

It’s also possible you knocked part of your exhaust system loose with a hard-enough pothole collision. Like fluid leaks, problems with your exhaust may not be easily visible. However, if you smell exhaust or hear unusual noises, chances are there’s a problem that should be checked.

Get the Assistance You Need

No one wants to deal with the repairs that result from running afoul of a pothole. They are time-consuming, and the added cost of restoring tires and wheels or any other part to proper working order is an unwelcome expense. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. For St. Louis pothole damage service, tire rotations and alignments, come to our trusty auto service center in St. Peters, MO. Pappas Toyota is located at 10011 Spencer Road and we accept walk-ins or online appointments.

If you see a particularly bad pothole, do a good deed by reporting it to the St. Louis, Missouri, Department of Street Maintenance. They typically send a road crew to repair major streets within two days and residential surfaces within seven.