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I hit a pothole and burst both passenger tires. S/d alignment be off on the left, right or either?

I hit a pothole and burst both tires on passenger side. New vehicle and it only has 9,600 miles on it. Insurance will pay if some damage other than just the tires. Rims are not bent, but alignment is off -.22 on the left. Adjuster said if alignment is off I would have to prove it was caused from hitting the pothole. If tire blowouts were on the right , could the alignment be off to the left or would it have to be on the right? Spoke with a tire dealership and they said it would be naive to think that the alignment problem was NOT caused by hitting a pothole hard enough to burst two tires. Any thoughts?

The insurance company will try to dodge paying for tires. I suggest you visit the pothole and take some good pictures of it. Did you file an accident report with the local police? If not, you might consider doing so, check with the police dept. Without a police report or other “evidence” of a mishap your insurance carrier will say they can’t tell how this happened.

You might also see if a good body shop can inspect the car looking for bent and or damage evidence. If the alignment is off significantly something might be bent. If there is not evident damage and the car can be aligned properly you might have to just live with the cost of 2 new tires. If your car is a Subaru or other AWD car you might need 4 new tires.

Some tires are more easily killed by a pothole than others. Those fancy big wheels with skinny sidewall tires don’t handle potholes well at all. Tires that are under inflated also can pop as the sidewalls flex and get “pinched”. The claims adjusters will make this your fault unless you can find a way to make this an “accident”. If you do, you’ll still pay a deductible and then they may jack your next premium. So, you might just end up paying the same or more even if you get some money on an insurance claim.

If you hit something hard enough to burst 2 tires then there’s a 99% chance some suspension components are bent.

Many times this damage will not be visible to the naked eye. It’s going to take a very careful inspection by a competent person to determine this.

The .22 doesn’t tell me much but I assume that is referring to toe. There’s also the camber and caster angles to factor in.
The adjuster is mechanically clueless and that’s the case with most of them.

As far as the accident is concerned after deductible and depreciation on the tires I would probably only get about $289. Ins agent said I wouldn’t lose accident free discount unless I had another accident. I have an awd sienna which has the run flat tires so my husband was concerned about the suspension. It was taken on a flatbed to the Toyota dealership(free for the first two years) and they said they did check for suspension damage and found none. They put both new tires back on the right side though. Tread depth of two on left was 7/32 and new is 10/32. Should they have put two new ones on the front or as you indicated for an awd vehicle s/d I have gotten 4 new tires?

My wife hit a pothole with her 2006 Sienna 2wd. The impact was enough to dent the steel rim. The tire had no visible damage at first, after a week a bubble appeared in the sidewall and it was replaced. I find it difficult to believe that your wheels didn’t sustain some sort of damage.

I think a second opinion is in order, preferably an independent body or suspension shop.

Good luck,

Ed B.

I believe an AWD Sienna should have 4 tires with very similar tread depth. Consult your owner’s manual to see Toyota’s recommendation. Since the tires were replaced by the Toyota dealer ask the dealer to state in writing that putting the new tires on the AWD Sienna will not damage the AWD system. Mismatched tires put excessive stress on the AWD transfer case and this is a VERY expensive repair if there is a problem. In can take years and many miles for the damage to be evident and if the van is near the end of the warranty period ask the dealer how long they stand by their recommendation?

If it were my AWD car I’d not feel comfortable with mismatched tires.

If you hit a pothole hard enough to blow both the front and rear tires, you need not only a four wheel alignment, you also need a good going-over by a good chassis shop. That’s hard enough to bend things.

You can put a claim in to who is responsible for the road. That does work some times.

Tthibs: “Tread depth of two on left was 7/32 and new is 10/32. Should they have put two new ones on the front or as you indicated for an awd vehicle s/d I have gotten 4 new tires?”


  1. The maximum allowable difference in depth tread is given in the owner’s manual.

  2. In older AWD vehicles a 3/32" difference in tread depth was on the margin; in the newer versions of AWD it is not a problem. See your owner’s manual.

  3. If you live in a large city you can have the new tires with 10/32" tread shaved to 7/32" tread. Where I live it runs $30-$40 per tire, cheaper than buying new tires.

  4. ALWAYS put the tires with the greater tread on the rear to avoid oversteer in wet conditions.