A video circulating on social media shows vehicles repeatedly slamming into two large potholes in Mpumalanga. Whether the video is true or not, what you can be certain of is that if you are heading to holiday destinations during the Easter holidays potholes will be inevitable due to the higher-than-normal rainfall. Often these potholes can be even worse than those in more developed areas.
The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, cautions it is essential to be prepared for a pothole conundrum if you are travelling these holidays. “Particularly, if you are driving through long stretches between petrol stations and towns, you need to be prepared for the consequences of hitting a pothole for long enough to get you to the next town.
“The most important part of this is ensuring you have a spare tyre in good condition. Check that it’s properly inflated. While you should visit a tyre replacement centre as soon as possible, ideally, the spare should be good enough to not just take you to the next town but to your destination and home again.”
There are, however, other scenarios to consider. “It is possible to damage two tyres going through a pothole. In this scenario you need additional measures such as a tyre sealant. Some vehicles may even come with repair kits containing sealant instead of a spare tyre.
“Tyre sealants are only effective in certain circumstances. The damage can’t be bigger than 4mm in diameter and will not work if the rim is damaged. Research how your tyre sealant works to ensure you know what to do and have all necessary equipment. For example, some sealants may require driving short distances for the sealant to work properly and an additional stop to check if it worked. Several tyre sealers restrict speed and distance travelled and require more caution cornering and braking.”
Nowadays, it is common for cars to have donut or ‘Marie Biscuit’ spares or run flats instead. “These are designed to help you get to a place where you can repair the damage but they too require certain adjustments to driving to ensure safety.
“Donut spares are not meant to be driven faster than 80 km/hour because there is less tread and they have to spin faster. Additionally, you cannot normally drive more than 100km on this tyre so your focus should be to get to the next tyre centre as quickly as possible. Also be aware it affects other systems in your car such as handling, braking and cornering.”
Run flats have reinforced sidewalls that allow driving for a limited amount of time with no air pressure. “Ideally, you can drive no further 80km to the nearest repair centres. Run flats can also not be repaired and need to be replaced once damaged.
“Pothole damage can vary from minor to major and it is extremely important to know what your spare options are. The ultimate lesson, is to know your car and your tyres. Of course, it pays to research your route and be aware of the pothole situation beforehand to help avoid the situation altogether,” says Herbert.