What should I do if my car is damaged by a pothole?

Potholes can cause a lot of mechanical issues – but what should you do if you hit one?


Potholes continue to blight the UK’s roads. In fact, the RAC said in January that pothole-related breakdowns had hit a three-year high, with more than 10,000 callouts made during 2021 for problems caused by damaged road surfaces.

It shows that potholes are still causing misery for many drivers up and down the country. But what should you do if you hit a pothole and sense that it’s caused damage to your vehicle? Here, we’re going to go through the key steps to follow.

Stop and check

If you’ve hit a pothole and you believe that it has caused damage then it’s important to come to a safe stop and check your car over. Pull over at the next layby or safe place and give your vehicle a thorough visual inspection. Analyse the tyres and wheels for any damage, looking closely at the wheel rims themselves which are often vulnerable to pothole damage.

It’s also worth giving your car’s bumpers a look over just in case. If you’re able to get going again, check to see whether the steering fails to centre properly or if the car pulls to one side – this could indicate damage to the steering or suspension. You should also take note of any vibrations which appear after the incident.

Take down some details

A pothole on a road in Islington, London.

Though it might be tempting to leave the finer details until later, making sure that you take down some information from the scene of the incident can really help out later on. For instance, it’s worth taking some photos of the pothole itself and making sure you note down its exact location. Of course, if you’re going to do this make sure it can be conducted in a safe manner.

Remember however that trespassing on a motorway is a criminal offence, so you won’t be able to return and photograph a pothole if it’s located here. You can still try to be as accurate as possible when it comes to its location, though, so try to take down the roadside location post number closest to where the issue happened.

Try to estimate the size and depth of the pothole or use an item close to hand to judge it against. This can help to more accurately report it later on.

Tell the local authorities

A car passes a pothole in a road near Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.

It’s important that you let the local authorities know about the pothole which caused the damage. After all, you don’t want someone else hitting it and having a similar experience. Plus, larger potholes could lead to more serious incidents – so it’s paramount that you flag it up.

You’ll be able to find which local authority looks after the road in question by searching online, while larger A roads and motorways in England are looked after by Highways England. In Wales, you’ll need to contact Traffic Wales, while in Scotland you’re able to report potholes via the My Gov Scotland website. In Northern Ireland, the same can be done through the NI Direct website.

Sort the repairs to your car

Check your tyres

At this point, you’ll need to have the repairs to your cars sorted if the damage is critical. It’s a good option to get a number of quotes for the job required and keep a note of these too – it’ll all help later on.

Make sure that you keep hold of each receipt related to any work conducted. Ensuring that you’ve got as much information as possible at this point will ensure that you aren’t left out of pocket at a later stage.

Make your claim

Now, it’s time to submit a claim to your local council or road authority if you believe you’re due compensation. Send them copies of everything you’ve collected up to this point and make sure that they’ve got copies of the receipts for the work you might have had carried out. Your best bet is to search online for the correct local authority, where you’ll find an email or postal address to send these to.

If the authority believes it to be a valid claim, they’ll likely send you a damage report form. At this point, you’ll be asked for more information about the incident, as well as why you think the authority is responsible. They’ll also ask for the time and location.

Appeal if it’s required

If your claim is rejected and you think there are grounds to do so, then you’re able to make an appeal. You could ask to see the council’s road inspection report and resubmit your claim, for instance.

At this point, you could also speak to your insurance provider if the repairs you’ve had to make have been quite expensive.

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