This winter started out nice and mild but then came the "blizzard of 2016," the big melt-down, several smaller storms, an arctic blast and then a warm-up. The result has been a huge new crop of potholes, large and small, popping up on roadways all over the Garden State.

According to Joe Erickson, an automotive services territory manager for AAA New Jersey, three types of potholes can cause different types of damage to your vehicle.

1. No Big Deal

Smaller potholes can be a nuisance, but not as damaging to your vehicle as larger potholes. Erickson said if you drive over a small pothole, you could have “something as simple as knocking the wheel alignment out, and that would need to be redone at probably anywhere from a $50 to $70 range.”

2. More Serious

However, Erickson said the larger craters left in the roadways following the freeze/thaw cycle could be more menacing. You could also wind up “damaging a tire or a wheel, which can, depending on the size of the vehicle, the size of the tire and the type of the wheel can range into the hundreds of dollars very easily.”

3. The Really Big Headache

According to Erickson, if you go over a really big pothole you can damage a suspension component, and “usually when you damage a suspension component you’re also damaging the tire, and or the wheel, so that could run into the thousand dollar range.”

He noted most of the potholes littering New Jersey roads are not very deep, and most towns are quick to fill the ones that have gaping holes. However, tire damage can still occur, and “tires are not inexpensive."

"The vehicle I drive, I know the tires are $200 a piece," he said.

Erickson also pointed out some car manufacturers are not putting spare tires in vehicles, so if something does go wrong and you can’t change a tire, that can be a real inconvenience.

If you drive on roads that do have potholes, he said you want to try and avoid them the best you can.

“Follow the vehicle in front of you at a three to-four car length, slow down, and if you’re going to hit the pothole, the slower the better,” he said.

A just-released AAA study finds two-thirds of American drivers are concerned about potholes on their local roads.

The study reveals pothole damage has cost U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the last five years, or approximately $3 billion annually.

Spokeswoman Tracy Noble said over the past several winters, AAA’s emergency roadside assistance has fielded over 50,000 tire related rescue calls in New Jersey alone.

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