New AAA report: Pothole damage cost $26.5 billion last year

AAA: Potholes Pack a Punch as Drivers Pay $26.5 Billion in Related Vehicle Repairs

New data shows 2021 was an expensive year for drivers who sustained vehicle damage from potholes


ORLANDO, Fla. (Mar. 1, 2022)—Americans battling the polar vortex will soon face a greater enemy—pothole season. A new survey from AAA found that last year 1 in 10 drivers sustained vehicle damage significant enough to warrant a repair after hitting a pothole. With an average price tag of almost $600 per repair, damage caused by potholes cost drivers a staggering $26.5 billion in 2021 alone.

To make matters worse, these same drivers often ended up with an average of two pothole-related repairs signaling that America’s roadways need immediate attention. As states receive an influx of funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, AAA urges government officials and departments of transportation to focus on improving road conditions, prioritizing those areas most in need of repair.

“In many parts of the country, winter roads will likely give way to pothole-laden obstacle courses,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering. “When a vehicle hits a pothole with any kind of force, the tires, wheels and suspension get the brunt of the impact and fixing any of those items is pricey.”

The Pothole’s Origin Story

Cracked and crumbling pavement is the perfect environment for potholes to form. Moisture collects in these crevices and as temperatures fluctuate, it expands and contracts due to freezing and thawing. This breaks up the pavement and, combined with the weight of passing cars, eventually results in a pothole. These concrete craters can wreak havoc on a vehicle’s tires, alignment, suspension and shocks. In the winter and spring of 2021, AAA responded to 1.8 million tire-related roadside assistance calls. While AAA does not identify if a roadside assistance request is the result of pothole damage, this number represented 11% of the total calls received in the winter and spring last year.

How to Save Your Car and Your Wallet from Pothole Damage

While potholes are a reality for many drivers, sustaining vehicle damage does not have to be. AAA recommends the following:

  • Check Your Tires, which includes tread depth, tire pressure, suspension and alignment
    • Tread depth—insert a quarter into the tread groove with Washington’s head upside down. If you can see the top of Washington’s head, start shopping for new tires.
    • Tire pressure—check this at least once a month using a quality gauge. Do so before driving when tires have been at rest and are not hot. Follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure found on a sticker inside the driver’s side door.
    • Suspension and Alignment—look for changes in vehicle handling, excessive vibration or uneven wearing of tires, all indications of a problem with the suspension like alignment or shocks. If your vehicle pulls to the left or right, have the wheel alignment checked by a trusted mechanic.
  • Keep Your Eyes on the Road, an alert and cautious driver is less likely to hit a pothole
    • Scan the road ahead for potholes and if it’s safe to do so, drive around any in your path.
    • Standing water or puddles may disguise a deep pothole. Avoid driving through standing water when possible but if you can’t, drive through slowly and treat them as though there may be potholes hiding beneath the water.
    • There may be times when you cannot avoid hitting a pothole. In that case, safely reduce your speed as much as possible and avoid braking abruptly, particularly as you go over the pothole as this compresses your suspension and adds extra force to the tire. Striking a pothole at higher speeds increases the chance of severe damage including knocking the wheels out of alignment, affecting the steering, and bending or even breaking suspension components.
    • If you hit a pothole, pay attention to any new or unusual noises or vibrations. If you detect something is off with your vehicle, take it to a trusted repair facility for a full vehicle inspection as soon as possible.


The Return of LAPotholes

Welcome back, LAPotholes.

It’s been two years since my last post here — not because the streets in Los Angeles have gotten better and all potholes are repaired instantly, but because the site was hacked. Hacked so bad, in fact, that I couldn’t even log-in to repair it — and the cost of professional help was, at that time, exorbitant. But things have changed and now, after COVID, I discovered a way to repair the site and then protect it myself at a very reasonable cost. So we’re back!

There’s a residential street  near the Hollywood Bowl that traverses one of the Bowl’s parking lots, with a pothole  just outside the driveway that was driving me nuts. I don’t live near there — but visit a friend in the area — and I wondered why no-one ever contacted the Bureau of Street Services to have it repaired. I guess sometimes we’re just too lazy or we figure someone else will do it.

Well, I finally filed an online service request and within 24 hours the pothole was fixed — but it was the wrong one! I had given very explicit instructions on where the pothole was located, but the crew went to another pothole around the corner, on Highland.


I filed the form again and, this time, they got it right. So there’s hope yet for all those unfilled potholes around the city,

Next up: street resurfacing.

There’s so many bad streets in LA., I wondered why, in my neighborhood, the city was resurfacing a street that had been resurfaced two years ago. Not only that, but the workers left much to be desired in terms of work habits — one morning they started at 6:30 am and another they damaged a street sign. See my email to Adel H. Hagekhalil, Executive Director, the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Street Surfaces:

1) This part of Hawthorn Avenue — between Gardner and Vista – was repaved a couple of years ago. I don’t know if this go-round was a “slurry seal” but the crews were here several days and the street was torn up and then re-asphalted.

2) A crew came by at 6:30 in the morning (6:30am in a residential neighborhood!) to take away their heavy equipment. It was a rude awakening.

3) One of my neighbors said that one of your crew members backed into a street sign and just left it on the sidewalk (see attached photo).

I have lived here all my life and the streets have just gotten BAD and WORSE — especially in Hollywood. Have you driven south on Highland Ave. from Sunset Blvd. to Melrose? Or North on Fairfax Avenue from Melrose to Fountain (this stretch might be in West Hollywood). Or North on Highland from Melrose to Franklin? Parts of La Brea between Melrose and Fountain are terrible — but South of Beverly it is fine. Try driving Wilcox North between Hollywood Blvd. and Franklin. Parts of Santa Monica Blvd. east of La Brea are murderous. Vine and Cahuenga south of Franklin rattle your teeth. That’s just a sampling. It’s been like this for years.

Another thing I’ve noted: Whenever a new house or apartment complex or mixed use complex is built, the streets nearby get destroyed by construction trucks. In particular, when trenches are dug for gas and water connections, the holes are never properly filled. Doesn’t the city have some provision whereby developers must return a street to its original condition?

Here’s his response:

Thank you for reaching out and explaining. My staff have researched the issue and should be responding to you later today with their findings. They are also addressing the early start which should occur unless it is an emergency. We will look at the streets you identified. I agree with you on the impact of heavy trucks on our roads. I am developing a policy/plan to address this as we did with the street and utility cuts.

I apologize for the early morning disruption our project may have caused you and this matter has been addressed with staff.

We have two processes in our pavement preservation program: resurfacing and slurry seal.  Street resurfacing, or paving, requires the removal and replacement of the approximately 2 inches of asphalt from the street creating a new wearing surface and can last for decades with proper maintenance.  As part of normal maintenance, slurry seal applications are applied to extend the service life of streets after it has been paved.  Our Pavement Management database and field inspections ensure streets are not resurfaced or slurry sealed prematurely.  We are using new technology in this area to help improve our service to the community by equalizing the condition of all streets in a neighborhood to include the recently paved sections on Hawthorn Av and Vista Pl this week. Our goal is that when we return to the neighborhood, they will be on the same maintenance cycle improving our efficiency.  I am currently having staff compile a status report to send to you regarding the other streets you have concerns about and also referring them to our maintenance division to inspect for interim repairs. This will also include information related to home construction projects or utility work.

I am very proud of the work we have done over the 3 years since I have taken over as GM. Our potholes response is better than ever with a turnaround time of 1.7 days. We have utilized data and public facing website share our paving program to prioritize paving and repairs to enhance public public safety.. We have addressed failed and concrete streets that haven’t been addressed before.


So far, however, none of the streets I mentioned have been worked on, and they are only getting worse — more redevelopment and more new construction just rips up our streets — so let’s see what happens.

The Hidden High Cost of Rampant Development

UPDATE: It’s been more than two years since this intersection was damaged — and nothing has been done about it. We’re going to file another complaint with the Bureau of Street Services.


The Hidden High Cost of Rampant Development

We all know the social costs of unfettered building development in Los Angeles – either new, multi-level apartment buildings or mixed-use edifices: the destruction of landmark buildings, displacement of long-time residents, eyesores on the skyline, horrible, additional traffic jams. Add to this list: the destruction of LA’s fragile street system. In almost any neighborhood where there is new building construction the streets around those sites have been pockmarked with potholes, rough pavement, rolling depressions, gigantic ruts, crocodile cracking and even small sinkholes. The cause – gigantic heavy construction trucks that wear down the asphalt. And road deterioration isn’t just limited to business districts or areas where multi-family dwellings (apartments) are being built – many side streets in neighborhoods where the nouveau riche have moved in and torn down old Spanish style homes and bungalows to build “modern” ugly, square, glass, steel and concrete edifices have had their streets destroyed by construction trucks. Take a trip down Gardner St. between Melrose and Beverly in the Melrose and Beverly Grove areas and you’ll know what I’m talking about. This neighborhood had been home to dozens of new homes and the streets are ruptured, rutted and damaged beyond belief. I’ve been told that speculators buy up these properties, build new homes, and then sell — or lease — them at a fantastic profit. And the city doesn’t seem to be able — or be willing — to hold these developers responsible for repairing the streets.

One of the most egregious examples of road destruction caused by construction is at the corner of Wilcox and Willoughby in Central Hollywood. For months now a new apartment complex is being built on the Northeast corner of that intersection — and the intersection has been destroyed. Check out the photos below — and the culprit.

We’ll keep checking the intersection to see if the street is repaired after  construction is completed.

The Hidden High Cost of Rampant Development

LA Potholes - The Hidden High Cost of Rampant Development

LA Potholes - The Hidden High Cost of Rampant Development

The Hidden High Cost of Rampant Development

A Destroyed Street in the Heart of Hollywood

UPDATE: Finally, after almost a year, the damaged street was repaired.




On April 19, 2018, I filed a Pothole – Small Asphalt Repair Service Request(Service Request # 1-1003222761) for the damaged street at Franklin Avenue just west of Wilcox Avenue in the heart of Hollywood. This stretch of Franklin is a very busy thoroughfare, a major traffic artery cutting through Hollywood (north of the-always-busy Sunset and Hollywood boulevards). Not only does it serve residents of the Hollywood Hills as an important east-west street, it is necessary for commuters traveling to the Hollywood Freeway and, during summer nights when the Hollywood Bowl is in session, its a very congested exit from events. The area in question is about 100 feet long, near Franklin’s intersection with Wilcox. There are mounds and dips for 100 feet and most cars need to slow down to 5 MPH to navigate the damaged area.

How was it damaged? Here’s an excerpt from a KABC report on September 14, 2017:

“For weeks, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power crews have been working in the area of Franklin and Wilcox avenues repairing the damage caused by a water main break.

On the morning of July 2, a 12-inch line ruptured, turning streets into rivers. But ever since then, the roads have been shut down, and residents dealing with street closures in the busy Hollywood neighborhood are frustrated.

So why is the repair job is taking so long? The Department of Water and Power says the line that broke was installed in 1916. Because of its age and the damage to the streets, officials decided to make some major infrastructure improvements.

‘It blew. Instead of going in just to do a temporary patch, we made a decision to go in and replace 3,000 feet of main that’ll keep us out of here for another hundred years’ said Donald Williams, LADWP district supervisor.”

The horrible damaged street near Franklin and Wilcox was the result of careless and improper repair of the street after the DWP tore it up to repair the water main.

So what happened to my request? The next day I received a Closed Status report from the Bureau of Street Services with the remarks:

“Referred to DWP for Large Asphalt repairs.”

Anyone familiar with the Los Angeles DWP knows the resolution of this issue: nothing. The DWP regularly repairs broken water lines, tears up streets, and improperly refills holes and damaged roadways (once, outside my home, the DWP came out to repair a sewage leak. Two days later a private company was out there, digging up the street again. When I mentioned to the workers that the DWP had just been there, one of the workers responded: “We love the DWP. Whenever they make a repair, they f— it up and we get called in to fix it right.”) (Plus, the DWP has an inordinate stranglehold on the city of Los Angeles: the city and its attorneys have been powerless in holding the DWP accountable in a scandal in which millions of dollars of taxpayer monies went missing at the agency, ostensibly a city-run agency but one that has become too big to control).

So, the street remains a disaster.


A Letter to City Attorney Mike Feuer

Dear Mr. Feuer,

My name is Stephen Padulsky and I am a Los Angeles resident. I am writing to express my extreme disappointment with the unkept roads in this city.

At 10:00am on Monday, February 27th, 2017, I was driving in Hollywood. While merging onto the Hollywood Freeway (101 North) on Cahuenga Blvd East I came across two very large adjacent potholes in the far left lane. Both the traffic and size of the potholes prevented me from rerouting my course and I, like many other cars, had to drive over them. Unfortunately, the impact immediately ruptured my front right tire. At that point I had already merged onto the freeway where I quickly pulled over to the shoulder to prevent further damaging my the axle (please see below image with reference to the location of where I pulled over; before exit 11A Barham Blvd).

Also, as you can see from the below picture, the tire is completely flat.

Fortunately, I have AAA which came within thirty minutes. However, I am now left inconvenienced by having to replace the tire. This is both a financial burden and waste of my time. The initial estimate for the repair is over $200 not including the service. Before moving forward I need to be reassured that I will be fully reimbursed for an easily preventable incident. There are so many potholes throughout this city that continue to cause wear and tear to my tires, fortunately, this is the first time it has caused irreparable damage. However, I would like to know that these potholes will be repaired in a timely manner. They are located in a high traffic area that I’m sure many drivers have experienced similarly scary encounters.As a tax-paying resident, the city has a responsibility to ensure my safety. I trust you as my councilman and therefore, in turn, you should demonstrate that my trust is valid and supported by your commitment to alleviating the burden this incident has caused me. I request that you provide an appropriate form of goodwill gesture to me in the form of full reimbursement for the repair. Many thanks, in advance, for your attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you and receiving compensation. I hope this can be resolved as quickly as possible for my sake and to prevent endangering the lives of other unsuspecting drivers.Attached please find an image with my best estimation of the location of the potholes (see purple pin). Unfortunately, I do not have an exact picture as I was unable to pull safely over in that area. But I recall them both being after the light at the Pilgrimage Bridge, approximately 100ft.

I contacted the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services to confirm if this has already been reported, but I haven’t heard back yet. However, according to Twitter, a driver reported a pothole on 2/26 in the same location, which BSS confirmed the location had been reported. I wanted to bring this to your attention as others have been affected.

Please let me know if you need any additional information. I would like to be reimbursed as soon as possible.Sincerely,

Stephen Padulsky

Pothole Incident on the 710

“My name is Sam Benedick.

On 2/8/17 at 12:10 pm I had a pothole incident.

I was going north on the 710.  In the second leftmost lane around a CORNER there was a gigantic pothole deeper than I’ve ever seen, I had no time to react safely so I went over it.  My tire pressure read low immediately and I heard rattling from the outside, knowing something was wrong.  A minute later I broke down on the right side of the 710 (safely, thank goodness) right before the exit To Willow St West.  I called AAA and they sent a tow truck out.

This was around the W Shoreline Dr entrance on the 710 North in the second leftmost lane, before the freeway becomes perfectly straight.”

Mr. Benedick’s right front tire was damaged; it needed to be replaced and then the car needed a front-end re-alignment. Total damages: $421.00.

La Cienega Pothole

Just bringing to your attention that there is a big pothole on La Cienega (when you drive northbound) right around 1200 S La Cienega. It caused me to have a flat tire instantly and put me in a dangerous situation.
The pothole will cause other people to have flat times. Please, fix it as soon as possible.

Elizabeth Michaels

L.A.’s Biggest Pothole: The City Attorney’s Office

Here’s a great letter from an LAPothole reader delineating her struggles trying to file a claim with the L.A. City’s Attorney Office:”Hi LAPotholes team,

Hope you’re doing well.

Really wanted to thank you for such a great and informative resource on potholes problems in LA city area.
Here’s my story I really wanted to share with you and other unlucky motorists who have happened to get into potholes at least once.

It’s been almost a year since I started fighting a losing battle with the LA City Attorney’s Office. 

I got into a pothole during afternoon rush hour of 9/15/2015 as well as at least 10 other drivers and claimed the damage two days after since I had to take care of replacing both of my right tires the day after the accident. This is where the information you’ve shared on your site came in handy and I’ve filed my claim at (thanks again). 

Due to some personal and professional business, I hadn’t had a chance to check up on the applied claim up until January, 2016. As a side note, I’ve never heard from the City Attorney’s office during that time either – the claim hasn’t been denied, neither was 
it approved. 

I’ve contacted the Office in January this year just to find out they’re not able to find the claim and was asked to contact them again in a couple of weeks. The back and forth continued for several months and every time I would hear that 
they either had problems locating the claim or it hadn’t been assigned to anyone yet – “please, call back in two weeks.”

Then again I was out of the game for a couple of months due to a big project at work and got back to bombarding them with calls in May when they finally informed me they didn’t have my claim. They advised I could send them the copy of my claim either via mail or fax. On 6/18/16 I mailed them the copy of my claim together with a copy of the dealership bill for replacing my shredded tires. Checked back with them in a three weeks, and guess what? Correct! They never got my letter (even though I double checked the mailing address with the employee I was taking to several times over the phone). The same day I faxed them my claim, got their confirmation on receiving and had to wait another two weeks until it got assigned to an investigator.

I reached out to the City Attorneys office on 8/1/2016 once again and discovered my claim had been assigned to Mr. Robert Arevalo, who I tried to reach out to during that day with no luck and ended up writing an email which I never got any reply to.

Finally today (8/22/2016) I was able to reach Mr. Arevalo by phone, who told me the fact I didn’t have any photos of the pothole attached to my claim didn’t benefit me and he would need to request street maintenance records, which is going to take another year! to be processed, since they needed a proof the pothole was really there. When I said I had witnesses among other drivers who got into the same pothole right before I did I was told they never got any claims from them (which is really strange because all the drivers I talked to were going to file the claim to get the reimbursement).

As a side note, I really didn’t take any pictures of the pothole since the manhole with a pothole around it happened to be right in the middle of a busy intersection (I got into it while turning left).

This week I’m planning to visit Street Service Bureau’s office and request street maintenance records. As I’ve found out you have to request the records in writing. Decided to go there in person since the letters have a tendency to get lost. 

I would really appreciate if you could share my story so other people who’re going through the same bureaucratic Hell on Earth at the moment could read it, find it useful and maybe share some advice.

Many thanks.

Best regards,


Keep plugging away, Julia. The key is persistence and documentation — you need to document every email, letter and phone conversation because the City’s Attorney Office “loses” so many emails and letters. Good luck.

Hard Landing Near LAX


There is a giant pothole on Arbor Vita Blvd. east of Aviation and before Barranca in Los Angeles 90045. (Near LAX)

It’s in the far right lane and measures about 4-6 feet in length, 2 feet wide and about 6-8 inches deep.

Observed on July 16 – not sure how long its been there, but looks very worn overall.

Thank you – Agnes