It's that time of year: watch out for potholes

As winter's snows recede and the buds begin to emerge on the trees, the potholes begin to grow in the blacktops. The Cherry Blossoms bloom and the tires go "kaboom" as they drop in and out of a 6-inch crater, two feet wide and half a yard long.

Such spring events are inconsiderate of your tires, wheels and suspension, so State Farm has come up with a few guidelines on how you can minimize the impact and hopefully avoid as many potholes as humanly possible.

Also known as chuckholes or road craters, potholes can be found anywhere, but at this time of year, they're most prominent in areas known for ice, snow and freezing temperatures. The cycle of freezing and thawing allows moisture to seep into the road surface, causing the surface to crumble over time.

There's little anyone can do to prevent the deterioration of the roadway, but there are a few things you can do to protect your car and your wallet:

1. Limiting your travel to roads you know well could keep you from hitting a pothole and seriously damaging your car.

2. At night travel only on well-lit roads.

3. Slow down and you may have a chance to see the pothole before you hit it.

4. When you hit a pothole, inspect your tires and wheels for possible damage. Notice how your car handles afterwards? If it pulls one way or another and there’s a wiggle in the steering, get to a mechanic.

5. If a pothole is unavoidable brake before impact. Tires are damaged less when rolling than when skidding over a rough surface.

So far we’ve talked about cars only, but if you’re on a two-wheeled vehicle, potholes can take you airborne. Flying may have its pleasures, but this way the landings are catastrophic.

Slow down, watch for hazards, and stay aware of the traffic around you. It’s best for bikes to swerve around chuckholes, but it’s probably safer to hit one than swerve into traffic.

For more auto safety tips visit the State Farm Auto Safety Center.

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