Niagara Gazette

Columns

March 28, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: Pothole carnage and cost of repair

Niagara Gazette — This time of year, roadways across America thaw out and reveal pockmarks in road surfaces that resemble the moonscape. The breakdown of road surfaces is a result of the expansion and contraction from heating up and cooling down, coupled with the stress of supporting vehicles day after day. As many of you know, vehicles sustain damage from driving through this rough terrain. How do you know if your vehicle has been damaged by potholes and, if so, what is the cost of repair? Here are some tips to help identify any problems and the expense of repair.

STEERING WHEEL SHIMMY: This condition is characterized by a quick back and forth motion of the steering wheel at a particular speed or all the time. If shimmy only shows up at a particular speed, chances are that a wheel weight was thrown off from the shock of going through a pothole, resulting in wheel imbalance. If the wheel is shaking at all speeds and intensifies as you go faster, most likely either a wheel is bent or the steering linkage is loose.

• WHEEL BALANCING: $10-$20 per wheel. Ask if the shop offers lifetime balance. If they do, it’s worth having all four wheels balanced so that you can have the tires rotated and rebalanced free of charge every 6,000 miles or six months, whichever comes first. This maintenance practice promotes longer tire life.

WHEEL REPLACEMENT: Wheels vary in cost factor. They can cost anywhere from $50 to $500. Check with your local dealer’s parts department for exact pricing.

WORN STEERAGE LINKAGE: This repair can run anywhere from $100 per installed tie rod to $700 for a complete steering rack replacement.

VEHICLE WANDERS: Whenever you hit a bump, the vehicle either jumps left or right in an uncontrolled manner. This condition is often caused by worn ball joint/s, bad shocks or struts and/or strut mounts, or a broken swaybar or links.

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