We all know the sound. That vicious clunk, clunk your car makes whenever it hits a pothole.

Potholes start forming in winter and early spring temperatures change frequently. First, snow and ice melt and seep into the pavement. Then, when the temperature drops again, the water refreezes and expands, cracking the road and opening up a pothole.

Even a seemingly small pothole can produce a surprisingly large amount of damage. According to AAA, U.S. drivers spend nearly $3 billion a year fixing damage caused by potholes.

States with the worst potholes

Michigan has the worst potholes in the nation, but Indiana, Rhode Island and Washington state aren’t far behind. Our team of analysts looked at Google search statistics over the last year. We found that Michigan has more searches for pothole-related complaints than any other state. Wyoming, Nebraska and Delaware have the fewest potholes.

States with the worst pothole problems
State Rank Search index average
Michigan 1 44
Indiana 2 41
Rhode Island 3 41
Washington 4 38
Vermont 5 32
Pennsylvania 6 31
New Jersey 7 30
Ohio 8 29
Tennessee 9 29
New York 10 28
Illinois 11 21
Massachusetts 12 18
Georgia 13 17
South Carolina 14 15
California 15 15
Maryland 16 14
Florida 17 13
Colorado 18 12
Missouri 19 10
Connecticut 20 9
New Hampshire 21 9
Oregon 22 8
Texas 23 8
Alaska 24 8
Virginia 25 8
South Dakota 26 7
Idaho 27 7
Montana 28 6
Iowa 29 6
Minnesota 30 6
Kentucky 31 5
Maine 32 5
Kansas 33 5
Mississippi 34 5
Nevada 35 5
Wisconsin 36 5
Arizona 37 5
New Mexico 38 5
West Virginia 39 5
Arkansas 40 4
Louisiana 41 4
North Dakota 42 4
Oklahoma 43 4
Alabama 44 4
Hawaii 45 4
North Carolina 46 4
Utah 47 3
Delaware 48 3
Nebraska 49 2
Wyoming 50 0
Methodology: QuoteWizard analyzed search data for pothole-related complaints and repairs for each state over the last year. The search index average is rounded and represents the number of queries in a particular state/location compared to other states.

Cities with the worst potholes

Certain U.S. cities seem to have particularly big problems with potholes. Nashville, Tennessee has the biggest pothole problem in the nation but three Washington state cities are in the top ten.

Cities with the worst pothole problems
City Rank Search index average
Nashville, TN 1 57
Spokane, WA 2 50
Yakima, WA 3 49
Philadelphia, PA 4 40
Seattle, WA 5 39
Grand Junction, CO 6 35
New York, NY 7 32
Kansas City, MO 8 29
Los Angeles, CA 9 24
Burlington, VT 10 21
Lafayette, IN 11 16
Reno, NV 12 15
Indianapolis, IN 13 12
Springfield, IL 14 9
Wheeling, OH 15 9
Detroit, MI 16 8
Traverse City, MI 17 8
Albany, NY 18 7
Missoula, MT 19 7
Portland, OR 20 7
Lansing, MI 21 7
South Bend, IN 22 7
Rochester, MN 23 7
Tucson, AZ 24 7
Columbus, OH 25 6
Chattanooga, TN 26 6
Buffalo, NY 27 6
Milwaukee, WI 28 6
Rochester, MN 29 6
Grand Rapids, MI 30 5
Fargo, ND 31 5
Jackson, MS 32 5
Youngstown, OH 33 5
Boston, MA 34 5
Charleston, WV 35 5
Bowling Green, KY 36 5
Cincinnati, OH 37 5
McAllen, TX 38 5
Pittsburgh, PA 39 5
Fresno, CA 40 5
Lexington, KY 41 5
Minneapolis, MN 42 5
Monterey, CA 43 5
Syracuse, NY 44 5
Providence, RI 45 5
Corpus Christi, TX 46 4
Davenport, IA 47 4
Greenville, NC 48 4
New Orleans, LA 49 4
Sacramento, CA 50 4
Methodology: QuoteWizard analyzed search data for pothole-related complaints and repairs for each state over the last year. The search index average is rounded and represents the number of queries in a particular state/location compared to other states.

How potholes hurt your car

How can a hole in the road cause so much financial drama? Consider that a pothole can do everything from damage your tires to ruin your suspension, including:

  • Pop your tire
  • Damage your wheel rims
  • Ruin the engine or exhaust system
  • Throw off your alignment
  • Ruin your car's shocks and struts

Potholes impact some people more (and more often) than others

Watch out if you’re between the ages of 35 and 44. Recent research indicates potholes may be out to get you. Drivers in this age range reported more pothole damage than any other age group, with almost one-third of drivers saying they’ve dealt with pothole damage in the last year.

Potholes also seem to strike twice — or more accurately, thrice. According to AAA, once your car has been damaged by a pothole, it’s likely to happen at least two more times in a five-year span.

Here’s how much you can expect to pay for pothole repairs

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to pothole damage. The bad news is that it’s going to cost you hundreds of dollars. The good news is that according to AAA, it probably won’t cost you much more than that.

  • The average repair bill associated with one of these pothole mishaps is $306
  • In 64% of cases, the repair bill is $250 or less
  • For 30% of people, the related bill is between $250 and $1,000
  • Only 6% of incidents result in a bill that’s over $1,000

Of course, how much you pay to repair pothole damage depends on the make and model of your vehicle as well as a number of other factors. (Just replacing a tire can cost you anywhere from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the vehicle you drive.)

Car insurance and pothole issues

Insurance plays an important role here too. That’s because having the right kind and right amount of car insurance keeps you from having to hand over a lot of your hard-earned cash when it comes time to pay for these repairs.

What’s the right kind of auto insurance in this instance? Collision coverage.

When most people think of collision coverage, they think about protecting themselves if their car gets into an accident. Usually that means hitting another car or another car hitting yours. Collision coverage also steps in, though, if you damage your vehicle by hitting a guardrail, lamp post or — you guessed it — a pothole.

Something to keep in mind here: what you pay for collision coverage depends on your deductible. Go with a higher deductible (what you pay out of pocket if you file a claim), and your rate or premium will be lower. Go with a lower deductible, and your rate will be higher. If you want to learn more about collision and other forms of auto insurance, read our “Car Insurance Basics” article. Check out our article about deductibles too.

Experienced pothole damage? Let us help you find the right coverage!

A few pieces of pothole advice

Finally, here are some ways you can protect your car from potholes:

  • To minimize pothole damage to your vehicle, make sure your tires are properly inflated.
  • Make sure your tread grooves are deep enough too. If they’re not, buy new tires.
  • If avoiding a pothole isn’t possible, slow down, keep your foot off the brake pedal, and try to straighten the steering wheel before impact.

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