Pothole problems damaging cars; swamping auto service shops

NOW: Pothole problems damaging cars; swamping auto service shops

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- As the weather clears up, South Bend’s pothole problem has not.

Many say the potholes have gotten worse. Not only are they causing issues for drivers, but also adding work to towing companies and service shops.

Cracked rims and blown out tires are stacking up at auto service shops across the area.

Zolman’s Tire & Auto Care has six locations across Michiana, including one shop in Niles. The company says all of those shops have lines of cars coming in with pothole damage.

One Mishawaka location alone saw around 300 cars just last week. That’s three times the business it normally will see in a week. Managers say this week isn't slowing down.

"It's still going strong,” said Michael Newton, retail sales and operations manager at Zolman’s Tire headquarters in Mishawaka. “What's also happened is because there was such a surge, some people couldn't get in. So they're going to other shops or coming to us. There was such back log that people are still coming in with their vehicles."

The city of South Bend says street crews are taking advantage of these warm days to work at filling in some of those potholes. Monday and Tuesday will be spent patching holes.

In the meantime, Newton says the best way to protect your car from the extensive damage a pothole can cause, is to slow down and eliminate distractions.

After hitting a pothole, there are some things drivers should look out for.

“The most common thing is usually people will feel it shake or a vibration or maybe a sound,” said Newton. “You might hear a clunk that you didn’t hear before. If you turn the wheel and it goes clunk clunk clunk, that’s usually a good indicator.”

With wait lists at several auto service shops, Newton suggests making an appointment ahead of time.

Drivers can also report a pothole by calling 311.

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