The UK’s Pothole Menace

  • There are an estimated two million potholes in the UK1
  • The chances of breaking down due to road defects is almost 30% higher than 20191

Potholes are the scourge of UK roads and are even celebrated in the UK and Ireland on National Pothole Day, on January 15th each year.

Currently, the Government has a £5-billion pot to tackle the problem until 2025, but it doesn’t seem to be getting any better… and with one estimate suggesting it will take more than £10-billion to repair the UK road infrastructure, it’s not likely to in the next few years.

The cause of the problem? There is no single cause, but increased, and often heavier traffic, poor construction and maintenance, as well as good, old-fashioned UK weather all feature in the top five.

And the UK is not alone.

  • USA has an estimated 55 million potholes
  • South Africa has around 25 million potholes
  • Italy reports that approximately 80% of streets in Rome are damaged
  • Australia’s pothole problem has been accelerated significantly by $4Bn due to La Nina

In fact, according to a global quality of roads ranking based on 141 countries, the UK ranked at number 37 with a score of 4.9, ahead of the average of 4.07. The highest ranking was Singapore at 6.5 points, and the lowest value was Chad with 1.9 points.

Potential Pothole Damage

According to the RAC’s Pothole Index, the most likely potential issues resulting from hitting potholes include:

  • Tyre Damage: Potholes can cause trouble for tyres, such as punctures, sidewall bulges, or even tyre blowouts if the pothole impact is significant.
  • Wheel and Suspension: When hitting a pothole with force, it can wreak havoc on wheels and suspension, with possible damage including bent or cracked wheels, misalignment, or damage to suspension components like shocks, struts, or control arms.
  • Steering System: Potholes can have adverse effects on vehicle steering systems, such as misalignment, steering wheel vibrations, or increased difficulty in steering.
  • Exhaust or Undercarriage: Particularly deep potholes can be harsh on the underside of vehicles, leading to damage in the exhaust system, oil pan, or other vital components under the car.
  • Loss of Vehicle Control: Hitting a pothole may result in a loss of control over the vehicle, making accidents more likely.


Related Reading: What Damage Can Potholes Cause To Your Car?


Reporting Potholes

Reporting potholes is something we all need to do. Councils often aim to fix a problem in five working days, subject to size/scale and depth, and where a damage claim arises, councils have a statutory defence that they can’t be held liable for a road defect if they didn’t know it existed.

Potholes can also be reported here:

Or for motorways and A roads managed by Highways England email or call them on 0300 123 5000 (24-hour service).

For potholes in Scotland:

For potholes in Ireland:

Claiming for Pothole Damage

A report by Citroen revealed that councils in England and Wales paid out £22.7 million in compensation to drivers to cover pothole damage.

To claim for damage to a vehicle the AA suggests writing to the responsible council. Including details such as the location of the pothole, a photograph of the pothole and the damage it caused, copies of repair, invoices and receipts may also support any damages claim.

If this doesn’t work, it may be possible to claim for the repairs through any comprehensive car insurance. However, car insurance companies regard pothole claims as “at fault”, meaning motorists must pay any excess charge and their no-claims bonus will be impacted.

Tyre, alloy wheel or even extended warranty insurance may cover the cost of certain types of pothole or resultant damage, but is unlikely to be covered by any service plans.

1 RAC Pothole Index July 20th 2023


Related Reading: How To Keep Your Brand New Cars Tyres In The Best Condition


If you’d like more information on vehicle warranty cover, that may provide some protection against pothole damage to certain vehicle components…

Your options for extended UK car warranty cover

We don’t want to complicate this, so we’ve kept it nice and simple. Here’s three great options for mechanical breakdown or electrical failure car warranty cover, that’ll give you all you need, including cover for wear & tear.

3-Star Car Warranty

Select this option if you want affordable cover for a long list of covered components. Gives you up to £7,000 claim limit towards the cost of parts, labour and VAT for the mechanical breakdown or electrical failure of covered parts.

4-Star Car Warranty

Select this option to cover a wide range of components on your vehicle, and get up to £7,000 claim limit towards the cost of parts, labour and VAT in the event of mechanical breakdown or electrical failure, or imminent failure identified during an MOT or service.

5-Star Car Warranty

Looking for comprehensive warranty protection? Our 5-Star warranty covers an extensive range of parts and offers up to £7,000 claim limit towards the cost of parts, labour and VAT for the mechanical breakdown or electrical failure of covered parts on your vehicle.


Related Reading: What Are The Most Expensive UK Car Repairs