Spring in Saskatchewan means bent wheels, separated tires and air bulges for many drivers across the province.
The annual thaw brings with it potholes – a nemesis for drivers and maintenance crews.
“Any pothole is going to do damage to a vehicle no matter how hard you hit it,” Brett Wudrick, manager at A1 Tire and Wheel.
Wudrick told 650 CKOM he sees an increase in business every spring as drivers adjust to the new road hazards.
Vehicles are already dodging gaping chasms in roads such as Regina’s Quinn Avenue and Saskatoon’s Main Street.
Most common among the repairs are bent wheels and tires that separate from the wheel rim. He noted many drivers also experience tire bulges – which could go unnoticed for months.
“You could drive on it forever,” Wudrick said. “But it could be as simple as going over a sidewalk or something to make that tire explode on you.”
A bulge occurs when the tire pushes against the wheel rim during an impact, displacing the steel cords that help distribute air through the tire. Instead the air pushes directly against the outer rubber, weakening the tire from within.
“Once there is a bulge that tire is toast,” Wudrick said, advising drivers to physically check their tires after going over a pothole.
City crews prioritizing repairs
Brandon Harris, Saskatoon’s roadways manager, said crews are doing their best to keep up with calls to repair damaged roads.
Harris said staff are prioritizing what they classify as high-risk potholes.
“It depends on the context,” he said. “A smaller pothole in a high-speed area might be considered an emergency, while a bigger pothole in a low-speed area may not.”
Harris added crews have been hampered by using a temporary “cold mix” to patch potholes. Once the weather warms, they’ll be able to use a “hot mix” that permanently repairs the road.
Temporary repairs will be a thing of the past next winter though, when the city tests out a new machine that can heat the pavement surrounding a pothole – allowing them to use hot mix year-round.
“We’re going to start with one machine, work out the bugs, then expand the program,” Harris said.
“We’ll be able to fix problems permanently all year long.”