Pot holes

Motorists may claim for pothole damage to their vehicles

Drivers can claim from Sanral or the responsible municipality

13 July 2022 - 13:05
By Motoring Reporter
A large pothole is shown in Rochelle Road in Greenacres, Gqeberha.
Image: WERNER HILLS A large pothole is shown in Rochelle Road in Greenacres, Gqeberha.

Potholes make roads undriveable and it’s a very real problem for vehicle owners. What motorists may not know is that they can claim for pothole damage to their vehicles, directly from the SA National Road Agency (Sanral) or the responsible municipality.

The motorist needs to provide the exact location where the accident or damage occurred, as well as a picture of the damaged car, the pothole and a wide shot of the road and surrounding area.

It is, however, not as easy as it sounds in spite of the recent ruling in the Free State in favour of a claimant for such damages. The burden of proof rests on the motorist to show the pothole had been there for a time and that the authorities were aware of it, and still did nothing.

Dewald Ranft, chair of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), says SA motorists face the risk of tyre and rim damage caused by these potholes, damaged roads and road construction. Apart from posing a serious threat to the safety of motorists, hitting a pothole has the potential to damage crucial vehicle components that will set you back financially to get your vehicle repaired.

Ranft says unfortunately it is not always possible to prevent damage, but it is advisable to know how best to solve the problem.

He says in 80% of the cases when you hit a pothole it is your rim, one of the most safety critical items on your car, that gets damaged and not the tyre. Rim damage can often lead to other problems such as vehicle alignment and suspension problems.

“Rims can be very expensive, particularly with the current exchange rate, and it is not always essential to purchase a completely new rim, provided that, if you elect to repair the rim, you use a reputable supplier.”

There are pothole insurance schemes such as the Pothole Assist by RoadCover.co.za. These companies manage your claim with the relevant roads authority if you damage your vehicle’s tyres or rims after hitting a pothole on SA roads for a monthly fee.

Ranft also says motorists should consult their local manufacturer or accredited RMI fitment centre first, to determine the extent of the damage and then ensure they are referred to a specialist rim repairer.

MIWA provides some useful tips on how to avoid roadside pitfalls and check damage:

  • Be extra cautious when there is water on the road as a pothole may be lurking beneath. Rather drive around the puddle.
  • If you do drive over a pothole do not slam on brakes as this could compound the damage to your vehicle or cause an accident.
  • Hold the steering wheel firmly when driving over a pothole to avoid losing control of the vehicle.
  • If driving at night, ensure your headlights are clean as dips and potholes are harder to identify in the dark. 
  • Do not swerve if you hit a hole as this could endanger other motorists and pedestrians.
  • If the tyre has deflated this is an obvious sign the rim is damaged.

If you live in Gauteng, the provincial government has launched a PotholeFixGP App, which allows road users to report poor road conditions and other maintenance issues that require attention. The app is only available on the Google Play Store but is set to be rolled out on the Huawei and Apple App stores in the coming weeks.

There is also the Pothole Patrol established by Discovery Insure and Dialdirect Insurance in partnership with the City of Johannesburg, which attends to potholes reported by citizens. An app can also be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Alternatively, WhatsApp “Hi” to 084 768 4653 or (084 POT HOLE) and follow the prompts.