Does Hitting a Pothole Damage My Tires?

If you’re driving on an unfamiliar road in a shady neighborhood, you’ll most likely be welcomed by potholes every here and there. The ratio of such unpleasant welcomings is significantly higher in the rainy season.

Or, let’s imagine a different scenario. You’re cruising down a highway, enjoying the speed, when suddenly, a pothole jolts your entire vehicle. At that moment, your first thought is likely the same as other damage this has done to my car.

And that’s what we uncover in this guide. Do potholes really damage your tires? Do they cause any additional damage to your vehicle? How to identify such damage and fix it? In this guide, we’ll clear any and every doubt regarding these questions. 

What are Potholes, and How Do They Form and Grow Over Time?

First of all, let’s clear the basics and understand what potholes are and how they are formed. These road irregularities can vary widely in size, depth, and shape, ranging from small depressions to larger craters capable of causing significant damage to vehicles. Tire damage from potholes poses a severe hazard as they can lead to accidents, vehicle damage, and discomfort to passengers.

Potholes can arise from a combination of factors, including:

Weather conditions: 

Extreme fluctuations in temperature, particularly in colder weather can contribute to the formation of potholes. When water seeps into cracks in the road surface and freezes, it expands and causes the pavement to crack and weaken. Subsequent thawing and refreezing exacerbate the damage and notorious potholes are eventually formed. 

Wear and tear: 

The continuous traffic flow can also form potholes. Heavy vehicles, like trucks, tractors, buses, etc, can gradually wear down the surface of roads and lead to the development of cracks and fissures. Over time, these cracks can widen and deepen, eventually resulting in the formation of potholes. Additionally, the repeated stress of vehicle tires passing over the same areas can accelerate pavement deterioration.

Poor road maintenance: 

If your country’s government isn’t considerate, that can also lead to pothole development. Everything has a lifespan and an expiry date. Proper maintenance is required for longevity. This includes load-bearing roads as well. Inadequate road maintenance practices, such as delayed repairs or patchwork solutions, can exacerbate the formation of potholes. Failure to address existing cracks and fissures allows water to penetrate the pavement, accelerating deterioration and increasing the likelihood of pothole formation.

How Does Driving on Potholes Impact Your Tires?

Now, let’s address the central question and see how driving on potholes can damage your tires. 

Punctures and cuts:

When a vehicle encounters a pothole, the sharp edges or debris within the pothole can puncture or cut the tire’s tread or sidewall. This immediate damage can lead to air leakage and tire deflation, potentially resulting in a flat tire. Over time, if these punctures accumulate, they can significantly affect the structural integrity of your tires. 


A sudden and massive  pothole wheel damage can exert excessive force on the tire, causing it to burst or “blow out.” A blowout occurs when the tire rapidly loses air pressure due to a puncture or structural failure, leading to a rapid deflation of the tire. Blowouts can be particularly dangerous, as they can result in loss of vehicle control and increase the risk of accidents, especially at higher speeds or in heavy traffic conditions.

Uneven tread wear:

Moreover, hitting potholes can also contribute to uneven wear patterns on the tire tread. Driving and using the tire causes tread wear every day, and that’s normal. But, uneven tread wear is abnormal and it can even cause potential damage to the suspensions. They also make the ride uncomfortable and make it shaky and noisy at high speeds.  When one of your tires aggressively hits a pothole, it can damage the tire and cause uneven tread wear. 

Reduced lifespan of tires:

If you face potholes now and then, they’re bad for your tires. The cumulative effects of these repeated encounters significantly shorten the lifespan of tires. In each such unpleasant encounter, your vehicle’s tire faces stress and suddenly. This can accelerate tire wear and degradation and lead to premature tire failure. The reduced tire lifespan can be a bit harsh on your pocket as well.  

But Potholes Don’t Only Damage Your Tires!

If you thought tires were the only thing affected by such unpleasant encounters, think again. Potholes can also cause significant damage to other vehicle components, including Bent or cracked rims, Alignment issues, and Suspension damage.

Hitting potholes with sufficient force can cause significant damage to the wheels (rims) of a vehicle. You can even bend or warp the rim. In more severe cases, the rim may crack or fracture, Additionally, potholes can also affect the alignment of a vehicle’s wheels. The force of hitting a pothole can knock the wheels out of alignment, causing them to point in different directions or tilt at improper angles. This can cause uneven tire wear, steering pull, and handling problems. Additionally, misalignment places additional stress on suspension components and may lead to premature wear and damage if left unaddressed.

Preventive Measures to Minimize Tire Damage

Alright, there’s a problem. And you have to find the solution. In this simple scenario, we have to minimize and prevent tire damage. Here’s how you can achieve this:

Drive Safely:

You must drive safely and avoid any road imperfections. Your vehicle is like your friend, and you should care for it properly. If there’s a visible pothole, try to drive the other way around it. If the whole road is filled with imperfections, try to change your route.

You should also be vigilant for signs of deteriorating road surfaces, such as cracks, patches, or uneven pavement. Paying attention to road signs, traffic patterns, and weather conditions can help anticipate potential pothole hazards and allow drivers to take appropriate precautions.

Maintain Your Tires:

Well maintained tires can easily withstand some puny potholes. For this purpose, maintaining proper tire inflation is critical, as it assures tire integrity and performance. You should routinely check your tire pressure using a reliable pressure gauge and inflate tires to the manufacturer’s recommended levels. Underinflated tires are more susceptible to damage from potholes, as they lack sufficient cushioning and support to absorb impacts effectively.

Moreover, regular tire rotation is also essential promoting even tread wear across all four tires and maximizing tire lifespan. Experts recommend rotating tires every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, but you should consult the user manual to find out these digits.


In a nutshell, hitting potholes can cause damage to your tires and other vehicle components. They can cause immediate harm, such as punctures, cuts, and blowouts, as well as long-term effects like uneven tread wear and reduced tire lifespan. Additionally, potholes can also damage other vehicle components such as rims, alignment, and suspension, further compromising vehicle safety and performance.

To avoid all these misfortunes, simply don’t drive over potholes. Always prefer a well-constructed road and pay attention to road signs, traffic patterns, and weather conditions. These factors can help you choose your route wisely. Additionally, proper tire maintenance will ensure that your tires withstand the pothole damage!