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Braking hard for potholes could cause more damage compared with maintaining speed – study

Braking hard is a natural reaction when seeing a pothole, but it could be causing more damage to a car instead.

Potholes can damage a wheel and tyre (eBay)
Pothole damage Potholes can damage a wheel and tyre (eBay)

Braking hard for a pothole could be causing more damage to a vehicle than carrying on at a constant speed, new research has found.

While hitting the brakes is a natural reaction to seeing a pothole ahead, this might actually be contributing to a car sustaining damage from a crater in the road.

Online marketplace eBay conducted a series of tests at the MIRA proving ground in Nuneaton which discovered that motorists should avoid braking hard as they drive through a pothole, particularly at speeds between 20 and 30mph.

Hannah Gordon, eBay expert, garage owner and star of TV series Repair Lot, said: “While braking hard is an understandable reaction to seeing a pothole ahead, doing so causes the nose of the car to dive, as the weight transfers to the front axle of the vehicle.

eBay conducted a series of tests to see how braking affected pothole damage (eBay)
Pothole damage eBay conducted a series of tests to see how braking affected pothole damage (eBay) (Stuart G W Price)

“This increases the load going through the front wheels and suspension, increasing your risk of sustaining damage. If possible, drivers should aim to steer around potholes altogether, or come off the brakes before their car reaches the affected part of the road.”

The RAC recently announced a rise in the number of pothole-related breakdowns, with 29,377 issues attended by the breakdown assistance provider. It represents a significant rise on the 22,095 pothole-related incidents attended in 2022.

Laura Richards, category lead for vehicle parts and accessories eBay UK, said: “Pothole season is typically at its peak in spring, after the lowest winter temperatures have done their worst to Britain’s roads, so drivers should be on their guard at this time of year.”