Sneak Peek Inside Asphalt Plant; Spot Pothole Damage on Your Car

Updated: 03/14/2014 10:14 PM
Created: 03/14/2014 8:37 PM
By: Brandi Powell

As long as we have a freeze-thaw cycle in Minnesota, potholes will be a problem. So how do you know if you have a real problem on your hand after bottoming out?

Reporter Brandi Powell found answers on how to spot pothole damage on your car, and got a sneak peek inside the place where all of the pothole filling begins.

"We've got our hands full," said Chris Anderson, City of St. Paul Public Works Supervisor III.

They're bringing out what they call the hot mix. "That helps us out a lot, as far as stuff that's going to stick in the holes," Anderson said.

A whopping 1,300 tons of asphalt are going through the plant each day: up a conveyor belt, into a dryer, down an escalator, dropped into a bin, and onto a truck; all before it gets put inside a pothole.

But if a pothole isn't yet filled, your car can sustain damage. Nick Stoffel, Manager at Lloyd's Automotive in St. Paul, showed us a damaged wheel.

"This is what's left of a wheel and tire after it hit a pothole," Stoffel said. He said repairs can cost between $200 and $500, or more.

"The tire bottomed out and the edge of the wheel took the brunt, there, you can see where it bent that wheel," explained Stoffel, as he showed us a badly damaged wheel, where your tire would go flat right away.

Other damage is tricky to notice. "When you get home you might notice where there's a smaller little impact here," Stoffel described, showing us a slight bend on the wheel. Those, he explained, it can cause slow tire leaks.

But many pothole-woes can only be felt. "Usually if there's a shake or a vibration, and if it's pulling or if something feels loose, then I would think it's something more along the lines of the suspension or steering," Stoffel said.

You may have thought, there must be someone to blame for hitting those annoying potholes. As it turns out, insurance agents say it's your fault. "Generally you're not going to want to make a claim. If you make a claim it's going to go on your record as an 'at-fault' claim and you're going to have to pay your deductible," said Mark Sczepaniak, President of Insurance Depot in Blaine.

Until the potholes are filled, experts say “slow down” if you can in order to prevent damage.

If your suspension, for example, is damaged, and you decide you need to file an insurance claim, Sczepaniak said your at-fault claim can stay on your record for up to five years.

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