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Pothole Damage Deepens

Tue, 19 Feb 2008
Damage caused by potholes to the UK’s 33 million vehicles could have increased by nearly 50% last month, as January’s chillier temperatures kicked in, according to the latest figures from Warranty Direct.

The number of suspension or axle damage claims made on Warranty Direct’s 30,000 live policies leaped by 46 percent between December 2007 and January 2008. If that was replicated across the country more than 110,000 vehicles will have suffered pothole related wheel, axle or suspension damage during the coldest month of the year*.

Yet, despite the predictable deterioration of roads in the cold weather, Warranty Direct ( warns motorists to brace themselves for just as high a chance of suspension or axle faults in summer.

Winter’s heavy, prolonged rain and freezing temperatures generally causes more potholes to open up, as water gets into the seams of the road surface. When rainwater freezes and expands, it widens the crack that develops, while the constant pummelling of car tyres only hastens the pothole’s creation.

Meanwhile, in summer’s warmer temperatures, the UV rays that cause the oxidisation of the bitumen binder in the road are at their most destructive, causing the materials in the surface to lose their grip and delaminate.

As a result, data from Warranty Direct shows that July and August have regularly recorded the same level of suspension damage as the month of January.

“Most people would assume, quite rightly, that road surfaces are affected worst by winter weather,” said Warranty Direct managing director, Duncan McClure Fisher. “But this shows that motorists must be just as vigilant against potholed and poorly-maintained roads in summer.”

Warranty Direct has campaigned for years for the Government to change the ‘patch and mend’ mentality that has left a £1 billion shortfall in the road maintenance budget. The state of the UK’s roads costs the nation’s motorists an average bill of £320 million every year.

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