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Here's Why Los Angeles Roads Are Hell on Wheels

Los Angeles roads are hazardous to your car’s health. If “40 miles of bad road” comes to mind wherever you travel in L.A., there’s a good chance your car has run into (or over) a tire-eating pothole. Unfortunately, along with epic traffic jams, potholes and L.A. roads go hand-in-hand.

According to a report (Oct. 4, 2013) by TRIP, a nonprofit national transportation research group, Los Angeles has the country’s greatest number of roads in need of serious repair among cities (with more than 500,000 residents), along with the highest annual cost to drivers — at $800 annually. Ouch!

If you do happen to hit a pothole (very likely), be sure to check your car for possible damage.

Pothole damage can mess up your vehicle in many areas:

  • Tire puncture damage or wear
  • Wheel rim damage
  • Steering system misalignment
  • Suspension damage, including broken components
  • Exhaust system damage
  • Premature wear on shocks and struts

Some car makers warn that your car’s airbags can actually go off if you strike a large pothole with enough force.

Filing a claim with the city

If your car has been damaged by a pothole, you owe it to yourself to file a claim with the City of Los Angeles. You can find a “Claim for Damages Form” online at the Office of the City Clerk.

Here are general guidelines to help when you file your claim:

1. Identify the exact location.

2. Take photos of the pothole and physical damage to your car.

3. List names and address of witnesses, doctors and hospitals.

4. Request street maintenance records for the past year from the Street Services

Bureau for the block where the pothole is located (in case your claim is denied at first).

5. Complete repairs to your car; save all receipts


File a claim with your insurance carrier

Your car insurance policy may cover damages to your tires or steering alignment under your collision coverage, if the damage is more than your collision deductible amount. However, filing a claim with your insurance company may not be the best way to go. It may make sense just to file a claim with the city, county or state agency liable for the bad stretch of road.

In Los Angeles, you can report a pothole or bad section of road. Call toll free at 1-800-996-CITY or visit the Online Services Request Form on the Bureau of Street Services site.

Los Angeles now has a free app to report non-emergency issues to local government, such as potholes, graffiti, missed trash collections, abandoned vehicles, downed trees, broken traffic lights, broken sidewalks, etc. There’s one for the Android and one for the iPhone.

Tips to minimize damage from potholes

  • Keep your tires properly inflated to give the proper cushion between the pothole and the rim of the tire. Overinflated tires cause the tire to ride very stiff and can cause suspension damage from slamming into a pothole.
  • Consult your owner’s manual or check the sticker on the driver’s door jam, for the manufacturer’s recommended tire inflation pressure (don’t use the maximum inflation pressure rating on the side of the tire).
  • Be on the lookout for potholes by leaving a “safety zone” of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
  • If you can’t avoid a pothole, slow down if you can, and don’t brake directly over a pothole (weight transfer to the front puts extra stress on the front suspension and tires).
  • The number and size of potholes are increasing, so be aware whenever you drive in L.A. Now’s a good time to check your auto insurance policy – you may want to change the amount of your deductible.

Has your car been damaged by a pothole? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section

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