We all know the sound — that vicious clunk your car makes when it hits a pothole.

Potholes start to form in winter and spring as temperatures rapidly change. First, snow and ice melt and seep into the pavement. Then, when the temperature drops again, the water freezes and expands, cracking the road and opening up a pothole.

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

States with the worst potholes

Minnesota has the worst potholes in the nation, with California, Washington and Indiana close behind. Our team of analysts looked at Google search statistics since January 2023. We found that Minnesota has more searches for pothole-related complaints than any other state. Wyoming, West Virginia and New Hampshire have the fewest pothole issues.

State Rank Search index average
Minnesota 1 95
California 2 80
Washington 3 58
Indiana 4 39
Michigan 5 35
Missouri 6 27
Pennsylvania 7 25
Idaho 8 24
New Jersey 9 24
South Dakota 10 24
Maryland 11 21
Colorado 12 20
Illinois 13 20
Nebraska 14 19
Virginia 15 19
Tennessee 16 17
Ohio 17 16
Florida 18 15
Kentucky 19 15
Massachusetts 20 15
South Carolina 21 15
Vermont 22 15
Texas 23 14
North Dakota 24 12
Arizona 25 12
Iowa 26 11
Utah 27 11
New York 28 11
Alaska 29 10
Louisiana 30 9
Georgia 31 9
Hawaii 32 8
Kansas 33 8
Oregon 34 8
Delaware 35 8
Nevada 36 8
Rhode Island 37 8
Wisconsin 38 8
Arkansas 39 7
Oklahoma 40 7
Connecticut 41 6
North Carolina 42 6
Montana 43 5
New Mexico 44 5
Maine 45 4
Alabama 46 3
Mississippi 47 2
New Hampshire 48 0
West Virginia 48 0
Wyoming 48 0
Methodology: QuoteWizard analyzed search data for pothole-related complaints and repairs for each state from 2023. The search index average is rounded and represents the number of queries in a particular state compared to other states.

Cities with the worst potholes

Certain cities are particularly plagued by potholes. Los Angeles has the biggest pothole problem in the nation, but three cities in Washington state are also high on the list.

City Rank Search index average
Los Angeles 1 77
Minneapolis 2 45
San Francisco 3 36
Spokane, Wash. 4 33
Yakima, Wash. 5 32
Sacramento, Calif. 6 27
Duluth, Minn. 7 25
Bowling Green, Ky. 8 21
New York 9 18
Fresno, Calif. 10 16
Seattle 11 15
Wheeling, W.Va. 12 15
Boise, Idaho 13 15
Idaho Falls, Idaho 14 15
Fargo, N.D. 15 13
Grand Junction, Colo. 16 13
Springfield, Mass. 17 13
Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 18 12
San Diego 19 12
Colorado Springs, Colo. 20 10
Albuquerque, N.M. 21 10
Tucson, Ariz. 22 10
Reno, Nev. 23 9
Savannah, Ga. 24 9
Evansville, Ind. 25 9
Indianapolis 26 9
Tulsa, Okla. 27 9
Omaha, Neb. 28 9
Atlanta 29 8
Philadelphia 30 8
Syracuse, N.Y. 31 8
Detroit 32 8
Rockford, Ill. 33 8
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 34 7
Jackson, Miss. 35 7
Rochester, N.Y. 36 7
Anchorage, Alaska 37 7
Burlington, Vt. 38 7
Champaign, Ill. 39 7
Kansas City, Mo. 40 7
Richmond, Va. 41 7
Santa Barbara, Calif. 42 7
Youngstown, Ohio 43 7
Des Moines, Iowa 44 6
Grand Rapids, Mich. 45 6
La Crosse, Wis. 46 6
New Orleans 47 6
Salt Lake City 48 6
Davenport, Iowa 49 6
Florence, S.C. 50 6
Methodology: QuoteWizard analyzed search data for pothole-related complaints and repairs for each state from 2023. The search index average is rounded and represents the number of queries in a particular city compared to other cities.

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 will likely cost you hundreds of dollars to repair your car. The good news is that, according to AAA, it probably won’t cost you much more than that.

  • The average repair bill associated with a pothole mishap is $306.
  • In 64% of cases, the repair bill is $250 or less.
  • For 30% of people, the repair bill is between $250 and $1,000.
  • Only 6% of incidents result in a bill over $1,000.

Of course, how much you pay to repair pothole damage to your car depends on the make and model of your vehicle, as well as a number of other factors. For instance, 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 when it comes to car repairs after a pothole encounter. That’s because having the right kind and amount of car insurance prevents you from handing over a lot of your hard-earned cash 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 their car if they get into an accident. Usually, that means hitting another car or another car hitting you. But collision coverage also steps in if you damage your vehicle by hitting a guardrail, lamp post or — you guessed it — a pothole.

Something to keep in mind: 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 will be lower. Go with a lower deductible and your rate will be higher. If you want to learn more about collision coverage 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.
  • Also check that your tread grooves are deep enough. 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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