Britain’s battered roads are once again blighted by potholes following 2012-13 snow and ice, make sure every cloud has a silver lining.
Suspension systems, including coil springs, are especially vulnerable to pothole damage which now account for up to third of all reported mechanical problems according to market leader Killen. Spending cuts, budget shortfalls, and a huge backlog of potholes from the recent harsher winters means the future of the coil spring market looks positive. Water penetration and free-thaw action on busy road means potholes can form remarkably quickly once the road surface starts to break.
94%of English authorities believe they will have to make cuts to their highway maintenance services creating a vicious cycle where more and more of what’s left gets absorbed by patching potholes in what’s termed uplanned ‘reactive maintenance’. Estimates suggest a backlog of 12 years at a cost £140 million – spite of councils repairing over 2 million potholes each year.
Cutting budgets doesn’t always cut costs though. Vehicles suffering suspension damage from potholes may incur local authority liability for the cost of the repair. In 2012, councils in England and Wales paid more than £30 million in compensation and spent over 50,000 staff days processing the claims.
Coil springs themselves are under greater demands than ever as VM’s seek weight reductions on components. Cold weather can make the coils more brittle whilst salt and grit can be abrasive and corrosive accelerating the degradation process.