Skip to main content
pothole season

How to survive pothole season: A guide for fleets

April 25, 2023

After a sometimes brutal winter, spring’s warmer weather comes as a welcome relief — except for what it does to the road. April is prime pothole season, and every vehicle on the road is a potential victim.

While a pothole can form at any time of the year, they really “spring up” after winter. The wear and tear on the road from traffic causes small cracks in the asphalt that allows water to seep into the soil below. When the temperature drops low enough, the water freezes and expands, putting force on the pavement and causing it to rise. Once the temperature rises again there’s a little pocket beneath the surface that eventually causes the pavement to break. And so, spring means lots of potholes.

Even the best state department of transportation (DOT) has trouble keeping up with repairs on the highways, and truck stop parking lots can turn into tire-eating landmines. So drivers need to be aware of the road ahead of them. Even a small pothole can do damage to a truck and some of the larger ones present real danger.

How to help your fleet of vehicles get through pothole season

Pothole season can be challenging for fleets, as it can cause significant damage to vehicles resulting in costly repairs and downtime in operations. All the standard safe driving precautions become even more important when traveling a road riddled with craters.

Here are seven tips for how to get through pothole season unscathed:

1. Maintain recommended tire pressure at all times.

An over-inflated or under-inflated tire increases the possibility of incurring damage when a truck hits a pothole.

2. Keep a safe distance from other vehicles on the road.

If the road is damaged, the car ahead will probably slow down or swerve a bit. Truckers will need to be prepared for that behavior, and take it as an indication to be cautious when they come to that spot in the road.

3. Stay alert and be aware.

Keeping an eye on not only the road, but other vehicles and the environment surrounding the driver, will help keep the driver alert to the existence of potholes before it’s too late.

4. Take it slow.

A semi is not usually going to be able to swerve around a pothole on the highway, but slowing down can minimize the risk of serious damage.

5. Be vigilant about checking your vehicle in the case of interaction with a pothole.

Since there’s greater risk in incurring damage after hitting a pothole, it’s wise to take some time to check tires and wheels soon afterward. Damage may also occur from flying debris if a nearby vehicle hits a pothole, so it pays to be especially thorough in pre-trip inspections, too.

6. Report dangerous potholes.

In the case of potholes in truck stops, contact the manager, or the corporate customer service line. When you encounter highway potholes, contact the state DOT. They can’t fix it if they don’t know about it.

7. Expect road repairs during pothole season.

It probably won’t happen as quickly as drivers would like, but the potholes will eventually be repaired. Those work zones will almost certainly have an impact on traffic, so factor in extra time for the delays they cause.

Surviving the pothole season for fleets requires proactive planning, regular vehicle maintenance, and effective communication within fleets and with local authorities. By following these steps, your fleet can minimize pothole-related damage to vehicles and keep them on the road, reducing downtime and costly repairs.

Pothole damage can result in unexpected costs to your fleet

When it comes to fleet vehicles, pothole damage can vary greatly, ranging from wear on ball joints and struts, to misaligned suspension and flat tires, with repair costs ranging from $25 for a simple tire patch to as much as $5,000 for a full suspension replacement. It is reported by AAA, that damage caused by potholes has cost drivers a shocking $26.5 billion in 2021 alone.

If your fleet vehicle does sustain pothole damage, it’s important to document the scene, including the pothole and your vehicle, by taking photos. In some cases, depending on jurisdiction, the city, county, or state may offer reimbursement for pothole-related damages, so it’s worth checking with the local department to see if you can apply for reimbursement. On average, pothole repairs for fleet vehicles can cost around $600.

Insurance can potentially cover the cost of fleet pothole damage

In terms of insurance coverage, most insurance providers typically consider pothole damage as part of their collision policy, since the vehicle technically “collides” with the pothole. This means that the cost of the damage may potentially be covered by insurance. However, coverage depends on factors such as the location of the damage and whether it affects the body of the car or just the tires. To determine if you qualify for insurance coverage, it’s best to take your vehicle to your designated repair shop for a comprehensive damage estimate.

All fleet cards are not the same, and different types of fuel cards suit the needs of different kinds and sizes of businesses. View WEX’s fleet card comparison chart to see which fleet fuel card is right for you. 

Editorial note: This article was originally published on February 27, 2018, and has been updated for this publication.


Stay connected

Subscribe to our fleet blog and follow us on social media to receive all our fuel and energy industry insights. 

"*" indicates required fields

Learn how WEX can help with your energy transition