CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP)–Pothole season has officially arrived, which can wreak havoc on both your car and your wallet. 22News found out when we might start to see some repairs on the roads and what you can do in the meantime to minimize damage.

Potholes occur when water seeps into the ground and later freezes, which causes the pavement to expand & crack. This is why they often form during the winter but may not be able to be fixed until the spring.

“Pothole season is kind of an all-winter long affair,” said Mark Schieldrop, spokesperson for AAA Northeast.

Something New Englanders are all too familiar with. “It’s more of an emotional thing for me, when you hit that pothole, you know you just get jumped a little bit. It’s kind of stress-inducing,” said Joseph King of Agawam.

And AAA says they have a similar effect on your car. Schieldrop said, “In 2021 alone, potholes cost drivers 26.5 billion in related vehicle repairs.”

According to AAA, pothole encounters can wreak havoc on your car’s tires, wheels or suspensions, and on average it can cost around $300 for repairs. Municipalities typically use patches to fix potholes though there’s no long-term solution until it’s warmer.

“The cold patch is really a temporary fix, with the idea that a more permanent fix will come later. The hot patch actually can’t be below freezing temperatures in order to set and cure properly so folks have to wait until it’s warmer out,” explained Schieldrop.

It’s best to avoid potholes when possible, but if you can’t there may be a way to reduce the damage. “When you’re hitting the pothole itself, you want to ease up on that brake pedal and you want to try to keep your wheels as straight as possible,” said Schieldrop.

“For potholes, I’ve seen worse. It’s not as good as it could be, but it could be a lot worse,” said King.

Though potholes are a reality, damage to your vehicle doesn’t have to be if you follow these simple tips from AAA:

  • Check tires for proper inflation.
  • Eliminate distractions while driving and look ahead for roadway hazards.
  • Slowdown for puddles that may be hiding potholes while checking your surroundings for collision threats.
  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles in case you need to slow down or stop quickly.