Fed up with dodging potholes? A car mechanic gives tips on how to avoid the damage

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Fed up with dodging potholes? A car mechanic gives tips on how to avoid the damage

The melted ice and snow on roads around Montreal have given way to potholes that are making Montreal drivers wince.

The craters have been made worse by thawing roads and heavy snow-clearing equipment scraping the pavement. And for many, they're yet another obstacle to avoid.

But mechanic Junior Langlois, the owner of a Monsieur Muffler garage in Dorval, says potholes don't have to be injurious.

"If you're hitting them at the speed limit, in most cases, it's not as bad we would think," Langlois said on Daybreak Monday morning. 

Despite cars' unexpected resilience, Langlois said he has seen more cases of flat tires in his garage recently. 

"In the past week and a half, we've probably done as many flat tires as I did probably all of last season."

Langlois said there are aggravating factors that can make the damage worse. Here are some of the tips he shared on CBC Montreal's Daybreak. 

Don't turn as you're hitting a pothole

The most harm usually occurs when a tire hits a hole sideways because the suspension doesn't work as well when the wheel isn't straight, says Langlois.

This can happen when you're driving fast and see a pothole at the last second, try to avoid it, but end up hitting it anyway. 

If you can't avoid it, "just hit it straight on," Langlois said. 

It's not only easier to get a flat if you hit a pothole sideways, but it can also affect your suspension and alignment. 

But you have to hit it really hard for real damage to occur, says Langlois. Over time, though, driving into too many potholes can loosen up ball joints and tie rods.

Thicker tires help avoid flats

Langlois noted that many of the cars coming into the shop last week were more expensive ones, which tend to have wider mags and the trendier, thinner tires. 

That can be a recipe for flats because "lower profile tires don't absorb impact as well."

"We're seeing a lot of Mercedes, a lot of BMWs coming into the shop with flats," he said.

As for prevention, the city invites drivers to report potholes on its Resident Services app and it will try to go and fix them. 

Keep a safe distance

Langlois says the best way to prevent hitting potholes and the damage that sometimes entails is by driving more slowly and keeping a safer distance between cars. 

Those steps will allow you to better anticipate the holes and either avoid them or have time to slow down before hitting them. 

A wider distance from the car in front of you will also avoid you bumping into the other car, in case it brakes abruptly to try to avoid hitting one, too.

As for Langlois, he says he's decided to stop using his car altogether these days. He's been taking the train for the past month and a half to get to work from his home in Saint-Lazare because of the amount of road work, causing stop-and-go traffic. 

"It's longer, but it's a lot better."