FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) -- Winter temperature swings have taken an early toll on the roads, including here in Kansas City. To keep you riding smooth, AAA has some tips on how to avoid expensive repairs caused by hitting potholes.

“Not only do potholes pose a safety risk to motorists, they can really leave a dent in your wallet,” said Ray Posey, Vice President of Automotive Services at AAA Missouri. “Even if the damage isn’t as obvious as a flat tire, vehicles can end up with bent wheels or damaged suspension parts.”

According to AAA researchers found pothole-related auto repair costs average $306, but some unfortunate drivers wind up paying more than $1,000 to fix the damage.

A 2016 study from AAA also revealed that pothole damage cost U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs in the previous five years, or approximately $3 billion annually.

If you are wondering, "What causes potholes?"  They form when moisture collects in small holes and cracks in the road surface.  The moisture expands and contracts when temperatures go up and down. This breaks up the pavement and, with the weight of cars, potholes can form.

Here are some tips from AAA to keep you and your tires safe:

  • Inspect your tires. Properly inflated tires can act as a “cushion” when hitting a pothole.
  • Look ahead. Make a point of scanning the road ahead for potholes so you can react in time to avoid hitting a pothole.
  • Slow down. If a pothole cannot be avoided, reduce speed safely without abrupt braking.
  • Beware of puddles. Puddles often disguise deep potholes.
  • Recognize 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.
  • Check for a spare. Many newer cars do not have spare tires. Check to see if your vehicle is equipped with a spare, and make sure to regularly check its PSI.

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