Just Fix It Wisconsin

Potholes costing drivers billions in damage annually 2/24/2016

2/22/2016, La Crosse (See video), WI (WXOW) – As the weather begins to warm and snow and ice start to thaw, roads begin to show the stress.

A new AAA study shows that pothole damage cost drivers $15 billion in car repairs over the last 5 years.

This time of year, potholes are especially bad.

“With Wisconsin weather we have a lot of freeze/thaw situation going on, pavement moves and weak areas will bust out,” Ron Chamberlain, La Crosse County Highway Commissioner said.

He said county crews are busy trying to keep up.

“On any given day we’ve got a crew out patching potholes this time of year but then we have 285 miles of County Highway and 165 miles of State Trunk system so it takes awhile to get around to everything,” Chamberlain said.

Meanwhile, your car is taking the heat.

“They tear up the suspension, they’re hard on ball joints, sway bar end links and tires and rims and the struts. They prematurely wear the struts out because they are hitting so hard and so frequent,” Mike Boehm, Service Manager at Schaller Jacobson in La Crosse said.

Repairs, as most drivers know, are not cheap.

“It can be $400-$500 by the time you figure a tire with everything from low profile tires these days and big 18 inch wheels. The wheels are expensive, the tires are expensive so it’s not uncommon to spend $500 or $600 plus a wheel alignment to get it back on the road,” Boehm said.

He said keeping your tire inflated will help prevent damage.

“The more air pressure you are carrying in your tires the more cushion your tire is going to absorb and save damaging the wheel. But sometimes there’s just nothing you can do, unfortunately,” Boehm explained.

As road crews keep patching up the problem, mechanics will tell you to avoid swerving and drive slow.

The AAA study shows drivers report paying on average $300 to repair pothole-related damage.

Chamberlain said poor roads stem from states under-funding transportation. As much as $170 billion in additional funding is needed per year to significantly improve America’s roads and bridges.